Sunday, December 29, 2013


"Delusion is the child of ignorance."
Bhagavad Gita

Stedman is at it again

Chris "Faitheist" Stedman has once again lodged his head straight up his own ass. Apparently, the very notion that some atheists want to let others know that Christmas doesn't have to always be celebrated for religious reasons is an act of "war". It doesn't matter that people have held celebrations during this season long before Christianity came into existence. Pointing out such socio-cultural/historical facts makes atheists the bad guys. Congratulations you fucking pinhead, you have just successfully reinforced a number of myths and stereotypes about atheists.

Unfortunately, it is not simply a matter of Stedman being an ignorant fool, which in many instances he is, but rather about deep seated biases. In his Decemeber 21st CNN Belief Blog post "Why atheists should quit the 'War on Christmas’" he states among other things:
"The American Atheists maintain that their latest entry in the annual “War on Christmas” saga is a message to other atheists that they are not alone...Which raises the question: If the goal truly is to reach isolated atheists, why does the advertisement read as a dig at Christians? A better billboard for American Atheists’s stated aim might read: 'Don’t celebrate Christmas? You’re not alone.'”

He knows the reasons given for such campaigns but refuses to accept them. Why? He seems to blindly accept the old canard that atheist are by their nature immoral and untrustworthy. He also seems to be operating on various double-standards. Most biblical scholars, many of them believers, long ago conceded that December 25th is not anywhere near the birthday of Jesus. So how can any literate intelligent theist continue to insist that the season belongs solely to them? Yet, Stedman seems to be championing the incredibly arrogant and bigoted view that if you don't celebrate the way an ever shrinking segment of Christians insist on then you shouldn't celebrate anything. And even if a fraction of the shit he's spewing has any truth to it why should atheist be viewed as the main protagonists?

Like usual Stedman hasn't got a fucking clue what he's talking about.

Fragments without Philosophy or Substance

"Philosophical Fragments" is one of handful of blogs on Patheos that I read on a fairly regular basis and have always found the title a bit misleading. Very few of the pieces I have come across involve any deep thinking.
A recent piece, "The Good of Believing In God", provides an excellent example of what a misnomer the blog is. Johnny Moore's December 15th piece starts with this little gem, "Atheism might be in vogue, but it — for sure — hasn’t helped history as much as Christianity.  Believing in God is not only among the most reasonable ideas in history; it is among its most helpful."

Only two sentences in and the piece is already off to rather pathetic start. Even if atheism could be said to be "in vogue" why would it matter? The idea is pretty absurd given that atheists are still considered the most disliked and distrusted minority in the US and the media never fails to promote any number of myths and stereotypes about atheists. It is also rather ridiculous to insist how history might have played out. There is no way to know such a thing. As a thought experiment such speculations can prove valuable but the rest of the piece makes it clear that is not what Moore is doing. He also never backs up his rather definitive statement about the God concept being reasonable or helpful. It is a highly debatable supposition with evidence being available on both sides.

So what is his point? I have no idea why he bothered with this beyond taking an opportunity to attack atheists. Another revealing sentence comes at the start of his third paragraph. "Although atheists might concede that there is no transcendent meaning to life, they are more than willing to take advantage of modern medical know-how to maintain their meaningless existence for as long as possible." Did you catch his rather disingenuous slight-of-hand? If an atheist doesn't agree that there is a one-size-fits-all universal meaning of life (i.e. God) then such an atheist can't possible find any meaning in life at all. The implication is, of course, that we are hypocrits simply because we don't fall for his childish conflation. His reasoning never gets any better.

There are plenty of fragments provided. Nearly all are in essence logical fallacies. In a rather short space Moore relies on, among others, double-standards, misrepresentations, and special pleadings.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


"Magic, it must be remembered, is an art which demands collaboration between the artist and his public."
E. M. Butler
The Myth of the Magus


Kimberly Winston provides more example of how the notion that religious people are more giving than non-religious people is bullshit. "In season of giving, atheist groups’ charity rebuffed" gets into some of the technical reasons this idea of religious givings superiority is a myth but leaves out a few as well. She also doesn't bring up some of the underlying philosophical problems with the stereotype. At various times I have pointed out problems with the methodology sued by some of the studies that have been conducted in this area as well as the reasons different groups give to "charity".

I wrote about this type of thing back in August 2012, "Generosity: A Perennial and Misleading Question"

Religion is Subjective and Amorphous

As I have frequently pointed out, when people insist they know the "true" religion you can usually safely assume that they are either ignorant, delusional, a liar, or any combination of those three. This seems especially true of Christianity. I'm pretty sure it is due to the fact that despite claims to the contrary there isn't a single Christ figure. The New Testament agrees on very little and tends to alternate between being vague, convaluted, and contradictory.

I will admit that when I come a cross pieces like Marcotte's "5 Ways the Christian Right Perverts Religion to Push Inhumane, Unfettered Capitalism" and Howerton's "Is the Duck Dynasty #StandwithPhil Outrage Really About Christian Values" they do sometime make some decent points related to ethics and morality in general. However, their connections to religion are often shallow and baseless. They almost always are premised on the author's preferred interpretation of the faith in question.

So remember, there are "No True Scotsmen."

Sunday, December 15, 2013


"By 'miracle' I mean a supernatural intervention in the natural order to cause things to happen that would not happen naturally. I argue belief in miracles in this sense tend to make it impossible to investigate nature: how do we distinguish natural events from supernatural interventions without assuming that we already know the course of nature? From a scientific viewpoint unexplained phenomena are just that - unexplained. If we suppose that they are explained by miraculous intervention, we are less likely to look for natural causes where we do not now find them, but the process of looking for undiscovered causes is helpful to scientific and medical progress."

Paul Gomberg
"Section II: Uncertainty and Scrutiny in Science - Introduction"
What Should I Believe: Philosophical Essays for Critical Thinking

The Catholic Church is Anti-gay

Michael O'Loughlin's entire HuffPo piece, "The Catholic Church Isn't Anti-Gay, but Are Its Bishops?", is based on a rather foolish conflation. What he seems to be trying to say is that the average self- described Catholic isn't anti-gay. On that point I agree. The majority of people who identify as Catholic are not homophobic and don't seem to have an interest in telling others how they should live their lives. That is not the same thing. The average Catholic has no power or influence when it come to either the church hierarchy or the church's doctrines.

The Catholic Church as an organized religion is indisputably anti-gay. The hierarchy and doctrines still insist that homosexuality is a sin and that equal rights for gays (including but not limited to gay marriage) is unacceptable. That is the church's official stance and it routinely meddles in politics to enforce that view. Anyone who cannot see that being anti-gay is a complete moron.

It Isn't Odd

This past week an atheist wrote a short piece for CNN Belief Blog that revealed how even atheists can inadvertently perpetuate myths and logical fallacies about themselves and other atheists. Mark Schacter wrote about his recent book of photography that happens to focus on, and is titled, Houses of Worship.
He opens his piece with these sentences, "I don’t believe in a divine presence, nor do I subscribe to any organized religion.  And that, perhaps oddly, is why I am drawn to the mystery of faith."

Wait, someone is drawn to something they don't understand? That's odd? How many people take an interest in things simply because at the time they can't understand them? Being interested in something that seems mysterious or unexplained is perfectly normal. There is nothing odd about being fascinated by ideas, events, or people you don't understand. In fact, curiosity is the driving force behind science.

So why label this drive "odd"? It seems to be a knee jerk reaction to the topic of religion. People, including some atheists, still find the need to put the institution of religion on a pedestal. Religion is an aspect of culture no better or worse than any other. It shouldn't be given such special treatment. The old myth/stereotype that atheists are non-believers simply because they don't understand religion the way believers do also seems to be playing a role. It's bullshit. We've proven on more than one occasion that non-believers are more religiously literate than believers.

The piece I refer to is Mark Schacter's December 7th Belief Blog post "An atheist photographer focuses on faith"

I do Listen. Do you?

I'm pretty sure that Mr. Werleman doesn't listen. He certainly doesn't listen to atheists and I doubt he's paid that much attention to the Pope either. Like so many others he is blindly assuming that empty rhetoric will amount to action. It hasn't so far. His December 11th Alternet piece, "Why Atheists Should Listen to Pope Francis", is a thinly veiled excuse to attack nonbelievers. The piece oozes all sorts of slimy misrepresentations, double standards, and flat out lies.

"Atheists like to talk about building a better world, one that is absent of religiosity in the public square, but where is the atheist movement, as defined by the some 2,000 atheist groups and organizations in the U.S., when it comes to dealing with our third-world levels of poverty? Not only is the atheist movement absent on this issue, it is spending thousands of dollars on billboards that make atheists look like assholes, at the same time Catholicism is looking hip again. "

Not sure which "2,000" groups he's refer to but off the top of my head I can name three online locations he could have easily perused and discovered that virtually everything in the above is a steamy pile of shit. Atheist Nexus, Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Freethought Blogs all do an ample job of demonstrating that nothing Werleman thinks about atheist is based on reality. All three routinely advocate giving to various charities/non-profits. It is also interesting and revealing that when theists push messages in the public sphere it is perfectly fine but when atheists do the same we are the "assholes." FfRF recently interviewed one of the individuals responsible for the current billboard campaign. She clearly indicates that they are aimed at atheists not theists. It is to help those who feel isolated and alone gain a sense of belonging. That's being an "asshole"?!

Fuck you Werleman! You're little more than a hypocritical double-standard wielding bigoted scumbag.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


"The Master said, 'when we see men of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see men of contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.'"

It's Not Just Christians

I have pointed out in the past that my intention is not to single-out any specific faith for criticism. I tend to focus on Christianity for practical reasons. It is the religion that I am surrounded by and the one that dominates the culture I live in. A piece I recently read reminded me that sub-sets of Muslims can be just as ignorant, delusional, and hypocritical as various sub-sets of Christianity or any other religion. A recent post on the Pak Tea House, "Atheism and Faith",  by Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi made me laugh quite a bit. I'm by no means the only one to find his piece both absurdly funny and irritating in its promotion of double standards, stereotypes, and sheer stupidity. The comment section seemed to be dominated by those who found Mr. Kundi's piece incredibly childish and pointless.

I should have stopped reading after the very first paragraph since it was an excellent summary of what followed. Unfortunately, I did read the whole thing. Feel free to follow the link in the Pak Tea House piece's title but be prepared for a mind-numbingly idiotic rambling piece of shit. If you don't want to wast your time read just the first paragraph since the rest can easily be extrapolated form it;
"I am a believer in one God. But I am always fascinated by atheist because it seems fantastic that they could reject the idea of God despite the inadequacy of science to explain physical world around us with certainty. To understand their argument I am always eager to meet an atheist with a hope that some new information will be revealed to shake foundation of my faith. But most of the time I hear the same arguments again and again. Religion has always argued that faith has certain element of irrationality to it although Quran has presented the idea that science will eventually find God."

Sex in the streets

Did the title of this post catch your attention? How about this for a statement, far-right stalwart Justice Antonin Scalia has now endorsed the right of every consenting adult to fuck anywhere they are comfortable doing so. That's right, if you apply even the most basic logic to his recent comments regarding public prayer that conclusion is perfectly reasonable.

An article in the December issue of Church & State, "Showdown At the Supreme Court", reviewed the hearings related to Town of Greece v. Galloway. According to the piece;
"Scalia asked questions along similar lines, saying that even when elected officials are acting in their official capacity, they’re still citizens with the right to invoke a deity.
'They are there as citizens…,' he opined. 'And these people perhaps invoke the deity at meals. They should not be able to invoke it before they undertake a serious governmental task such as enacting laws or ordinances?'”

See  how that works? If a government official can do something in the privacy of their home they should be able to do it in public as a government representative. Considering all the sex scandals surrounding even the most conservative figures it is clear that they most certainly do have plenty of sex. By Scalia's line of reasoning they should now feel empowered to screw right there in town hall. Yes, I realize this is a logical fallacy. Arumentum ad absurdum (aka Reductio ad absurdum) but that is actually my point.

Scalia's rationalization is absurd and has no bearing in reality. Government officials while fulfilling their functions as government representatives are by definition no longer acting as private citizens. That's the whole point. Government has no right to endorse or impose religion on anyone. It clearly states as much in the Constitution. Basically, Scalia and the rest of the right wing assholes who dominate the Supreme Court have once again revealed themselves to be ideological hacks who don't give a shit about the Constitution. I hope I am wrong but I am assuming that Galloway is going to lose.

Versus: a Blog with Great Potential

It looks like Patheos is going to be adding a new blog to its already sizable roster. "Versus: The Debate Blog at Patheos" has a great deal of potential. I know nothing about Andrew Murtagh but he seems sincere in his attempt at starting open honest discussions/debates. I have read quite a bit from Adam Lee so I am hoping that he does take Murtagh up on his invitation to engage with him. I am a little unclear on how this blog will actually work but it sounds like it would be a good approach if each set of post involves two or more of the current stable of Patheos blogger from across their "channels." I intend to keep my eye on this one.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


"People think they understand what is being asserted, but on inspection a considerable degree of vagueness enters. It is hard to make literal sense of much theological and religious discourse, which is the reason that religious apologists, when pressed, resort to claims of ineffability concerning the central religious subject-matters and the inability of human minds to grasp them."

A.C. Grayling
The God Argument

Is "God" the Source of All Things, or Not?

I'm going back to yet another one of my refrains. It seems to be necessary to revisit a number of comments I've made since theists never seem to learn or accept. Theists really do not appear to believe, at least not to the extent they think, even a fraction of what they claim. Connor Wood has once again scribbled some rather idiotic drivel on his poorly named Science on Religion blog. The title alone,"Religion makes you prejudiced. God doesn’t.", should make any critical thinker shudder with its stupidity.

Initially, it is possible to cut him some slack. The God concept isn't really of a single version. However, the first sentence of the second paragraph clearly states, "We’re not talking about a living Abrahamic God, though – instead, we’re talking about the semantic concept of God." Since he is writing about the more abstract version of the God concept what little wiggle room he would have had vanishes. The moment you accept the notion that God is the supreme being and therefore both perfect and all-powerful the title becomes a rather foolish and deluded contradiction. God must be the source of absolutely everything. If prejudice exists, and it certainly does, then God is the source.

Whether theists like it or not the belief in God's perfection places all responsibility with God. Whether something is good, bad, or indifferent does not matter. If it exists then it is the result of God. Whether "religion makes you prejudiced" or not is a moot point in the face of the abstract version of the God concept. God would automatically be the source of both religion and prejudice equally.

As is often the case, Mr. Wood can't even manage to apply the most basic principles of critical thinking and logic. The whole piece is just another example of how little theists understand their own beliefs or bother to think beyond the most superficial approach to "reason."

Bad idea, slightly better location

Conservative Catholics can be such whiny assholes. Now they're pissing and moaning about US Vatican Embassy being moved. There shouldn't be an embassy at all! Grow the fuck up. These are the same assholes who will go on about their "religious" rights when what they really care about is their power and influence. If Catholicism is focused on "spirituality" why does it so often behave like a political organization? What other religion has an embassy? These over-privileged bastards will never be satisfied.

It is also interesting to note the overlap between conservative Catholics and fiscal conservatives in the GOP. If they are so interested in slashing budgets and reducing government should they be salivating at the possibility of consolidating two separate embassies into one. Oh, that's right, they are self-serving liars and hypocrits.

The Stupidity of Adam and Eve

In his New Republic piece, "Scientists Try to Reconcile Adam and Eve Story, Whiff. Again.", Jerry Coyne does an excellent job dismantling the Adam and Eve narrative. He not only points out a variety of reasons why the "literal" story is idiotic crap but also shows why it is just as stupid in symbolic/metaphoric terms. Unfortunately, many theists will never fully give up on such fucking ridiculous garbage. To some degree Christians can never fully distance themselves form that type of supernatural superstitious absurdity. All the basic doctrines that make Christians an identifiable religious group rely on them. Adam and Eve are so intimately bound to original sin and therefore Christ's "sacrifice" and "resurrection" that there is very little to salvage without it. The only possible work-around I can think of is to focus entirely on Jesus as a symbol of ethics and morality stripped of all the supernatural elements. Of course, that would rely on a whole other set of delusions to make it work (unique ethics, historicity, single figure).

Sunday, November 24, 2013


"You cannot do anything with knowledge unless you know where it stops and the costs of using it."
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
"The Idea of Negative and Introgenic Science"
This Will Change Everything

Good idea, bad location

About a week ago there was a short piece on Religious News Service that once again called for dialogue between believers and non-believers. It is a sentiment I certainly agree with. However, I have always found it a little disturbing and possibly telling that when theists propose such things they always want it to take place in church. "Free Thought Exchange brings atheists to church for dialogue" is just a recent example of this emerging trend. It will never be nearly as successful as theists claim they want it to be so long as they insist it occur in places that many atheist are simply not comfortable. The sad thing is that there is absolutely no need for creating such an impediment to open honest discussions. There are many venues that could be used where neither party would feel unwelcome or ill-at-ease.

An Interesting Contradiction

A recent piece by Nick Sexton on HuffPo was very interesting in its approach. Throughout "'The World Would Be a Better Place Without Religion' -- A Sentiment Common on College Campuses" Sexton relies entirely on personal experience/anecdotes to try to distance what the average theist may or may not believe from what the religion they belong to promotes. To some degree he has a valid point. However, that point can only be taken so far before it not only loses any meaning but also turns into an outright contradiction. Why do individuals belong to a religion they disagree with most of the time? And, how does that let the institution of religion off the hook for any and all unethical/immoral doctrines and practices? It doesn't.

Such odd and indirect contradictions are both interesting and difficult to explain. Having a dark streak to my sense of humor I also find such things amusing. The last sentence of Sexton's third paragraph was particularly notable:
"When large religious institutions promote oppressive ideals, it is the fault of power-hungry, hateful individuals -- not the fundamentals that are most central to the religion."
It never seems to occur to Sexton that some of those "individuals" not only include prominent leaders within a religion (at one point he refers to the Pope) but central or founding figures as well. How can Christians excuse/reconcile the New Testament passages in which Jesus reveals himself to be a hateful and homicidal asshole?

Simply separating what the average believer actually believes from the teachings and policies of the religion they profess to follow does not in any way negate the horrible aspects of religion. If anything it makes the problem more complicated. It also does nothing to disprove the idea that the world would probably be better off without religion. Sexton's piece is interesting primarily for the questions that come to mind while reading it. In and of itself it is rather pathetic. Even setting aside that it is completely constructed on personal anecdotes, it is riddled with various logical fallacies.

Cowardly Costco

I have to admit that when I first heard about Costco labeling the Bible as fiction I was pleasantly surprised. For a big box chain to do something that would undoubtedly lead to controversy is rare. I was both amused and impressed. The sad truth is that any objective person should not be surprised or upset by such labeling. What sacred text is fact based? Why shouldn't it be labeled fiction? Just because people deem something important or wish to believe something does not automatically make it true.

Rather quickly and predictably Costco apologized. As it turned out the labeling was unintentional. It was an isolated mistake that probably would have gone mostly unnoticed. The only reason it was not corrected without incident is because another arrogant self-righteous asshole had to throw a hissy fit.

Oh well, at this point I have come to terms with living in a society that places little value on reality.

A couple of the articles related to this incident:
'Fiction' Label On Bibles At Costco Shocks Pastor [UPDATE]

Costco Apologizes for Labeling Bibles as Fiction

Sunday, November 17, 2013


"Guardianship is not to give an order but to give one's self"
Nyika (Kenya and Tanzania) Proverb

Right-wing Pundit + "Satire" = Ignorant Asshole

"Why do you Christians always throw the Bible in my face?" seems to have been a rather feeble attempt at lampooning secularism. All Matt Walsh manages to accomplish is to show what an ill-informed malicious dick head he is. There are many instances where genuine satire does use exaggeration/hyperbole and tries to reveal at least a few absurd aspects of a given topic, event, or individual. What Walsh doesn't seem to comprehend is that there has to be at least a tiny grain of truth for the attempt at satire to build on. His whole piece is built around myths and misrepresentations. This is by no means surprising if you've read any other pieces on The Matt Walsh Blog website.

One of the most blatant examples of this dumb-fuck's mentality can be found in the third paragraph. "If it comes from RELIGION, as a secularist, I must hate it. If it’s been heavily influenced or transformed by RELIGION or RELIGIOUS people, I must hate it." That's not secularism! It isn't even close. There is nothing in "secularism" that says you have to hate anything. The basic premise is that since religion is completely subjective and potentially derisive it should be kept out of government/public policy as much as possible. That is not anti-religious let alone hateful. Unfortunately, like many of Walsh's brand of conservatism anything that does not fit his preferences must be evil and ruthlessly attacked. It is also alien to such a mindset that anything can ever be more complex than a soundbite or stereotype.

Even though it is true that some who support secularism are hostile to religion (myself included) that does not necessarily have anything to do with secularism itself. It should be noted that one of the most prominent secularist organizations, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State*, is run by a Christian reverend. Anti-religious sentiment is not innate to secularism. Many secularist happen to either be religious themselves or have respect for religion as a whole. Personally, I do not but that has very little to do with why I am a secularist. I firmly believe in equality and freedom. As a libertarian, Walsh also likes to claim that he believes in such things. Too bad he doesn't behave in a manner consist with such views.

*for the sake of disclosure I feel it necessary to point out that I have been a member of American United for quite some time.

Neither Charitable or Compassionate

The Kansas City Rescue Mission has revealed itself to be at least as bigoted as it it claims to be charitable. Unfortunately, incidences like the one reported recently in the Kansas City Star, "Atheist volunteers turned away by Kansas City Rescue Mission," are not that uncommon. The Kansas City Atheist Coalition was interested in helping distribute Thanksgiving meals to the poor and elderly. Knowing that a particular Christian group already had such a program they thought it made sense to offer their aid rather than start a similar program from scratch. It makes perfect sense if your main goal is to help people. The so-called "Rescue Mission" wouldn't have it. Instead they revealed themselves to be selfish hypocrites far more concerned with recruiting members and perpetuating myths and slurs about atheists than actually helping their fellow human beings. They are by no means representative of all Christians or religious people but there are still way too many such self-righteous malicious assholes around. 

"Religious Liberty" in Bizarro World

A November 11 posting on the National Review's blog The Corner provides yet another excellent example of how truly distorted a certain sub-set of conservatives sense of reality can be. Wesley Smith's "California Against Religious Liberty in Business" is a pretty good glimpse into the bizarro world that some conservatives insist on living. His seven paragraphs can be summed up rather quickly. In his warped and fucked up thinking by merely not allowing employers to force their religious views on those they employ the government has infringed on their religious rights. Apparently, if you have enough money and influence you can not only force others to live by your own religious beliefs but you can falsely label it "religious liberty."

Sunday, November 10, 2013


"It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people."
Good Omens: A Novel
Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

Even Vegetarians love Pizza

"Even vegetarians love pizza" has as much meaning and purpose as this bullshit short piece from CNN Belief blog: "Even atheists love this Pope." Some atheists do seem to be impressed by Pope Francis. So what? Not all of us are enthralled by him. I don't understand why so many have given him so much credit. This latest example is rather telling. "Hell, even atheists love him - as shown by the surprising displays on affection tweeted after the Pope publicly embraced a severely disfigured man on Wednesday." Really?! Are people's standards that low. How can you not feel for a severely disfigured person in obvious need of comfort? The Pope did what any decent human should have done in that circumstance. Why all the praise? It certainly doesn't change my views on the Pope. He is a human being and as such has good and bad qualities. Overall, that does not make him an exceptional person and it certainly doesn't distinguish him as the leader of one of the world's largest religions.

Atheists as a whole do NOT love this pope!

Ignorance and Bigotry love Company

It never ceases to amaze me how truly ignorant people are when it comes to atheists/atheism. Unfortunately, many of these clueless individuals find the need to write/talk incessantly about atheists. Two recent, but by no means unique, examples annoyed me quite a bit. Both the Allergic Pagan's (Patheos) "Being an atheist just ain’t what it used to be" and HuffPo John Carlson's "Remembering Albert Camus and Longing for the Old Atheism" are chock-full of bullshit and bigotry.

John Halstead of Allergic Pagan is the more disturbing since the piece is largely about his own son coming out as an atheist and that he himself comments on sometimes identifying as an atheist. He clearly does not get it. Being an atheist is not like picking which outfit you want to wear that day. You believe or you don't. You are an atheist or you are not. Though, that is a minor point in comparison with some of the other ridiculous things he comes up with. Halstead is disturbed that his son will accept "...materialism that bleeds the world of beauty and meaning and everything that makes life an interesting adventure." Does this dipshit not ever pay attention to the news? Didn't we just go through this bullshit with that bitch Oprah? Big hint, moron, there is NO beauty or wonder without materialism. What are you marveling at if you can't sense it in any way. All those feelings and emotions are produced by the brain. The brain is a physical/material organ. His piece is loaded with all sorts of similarly ill-informed biased myths and stereotypes as well as a multitude of logical fallacies.

Carlson was not quite as annoying since the title made it pretty clear what I was in for. It is yet another piece that has picked up on a fairly recent tactic being used by critics of atheists/atheism. They want to seem reasonable and civil by "praising" or "respecting" the "Old Atheism" while denigrating or dismissing the "New Atheism." It is a crock of shit from start to finish. First it creates a blatantly false dichotomy. The ideas and arguments of atheists haven't really changed that much. The only verifiable distinction between the "old" and "new" has to do with media. The mainstream media, though still rather biased, is willing to talk/write about atheists more than they ever have in the past. It is also now possible for atheist to get published by large publishing houses. Not that long ago only small niche publishers would touch the works of an atheist. That is the only noticeable difference, assuming you actually pay attention to what atheist say and write rather than pretending you do. I have a sneaking suspicion that many who claim to have read the works of this or that atheist have not actually done so.

The second major problem with this contemporary canard of theists is that it is often grossly inaccurate. To be honest, I'm not that familiar with Camus so I do not know whether Carlson is misrepresenting him or not. I do know that other critics have used long-dead atheists to similar ends. One I am familiar with is Nietzche. Numerous critics have presented very opinionated and flimsy interpretations of Nietzche's work for the sole purpose of attacking contemporary atheists by contrast. It's an odd tactic but seems to be growing in popularity among certain circles. It is not an example of sound literary criticism or any intellectual endeavor. It is simply bigotry dressed up.

Why these assholes find the need to go on about things they clearly do not understand or have any interest in understanding is both confusing and annoying. If you want to engage in discussion and debate or just learn about an unfamiliar demographic that would be one thing. Doing that involves real inquiry not making up shit based on what you prefer to believe.

A Group of Clergy Deserving Praise

I do not have any problems with the average theist. It is religion as an institution that I tend to distrust and despise. My criticisms are generally aimed either at a specific set of theists or else at the doctrines, policies, and hierarchies of specific religions (or the sects/denominations within a religion). However, I do believe in giving credit where it is due. The 50 clergy noted in the Philadelpia Inquirer's "Methodist ministers defy church at same-sex union" certainly deserve to be commended. It is not merely that they have risked their positions within the church, and therefore their livelihoods. A considerable part of individual clergy's identity is wrapped up in their religious affiliation. Being stripped of their position as clergy and potentially being expelled from the faith itself could be very traumatic. These individuals have shown a great deal of courage and resolve in standing up for both civil rights and for basic human decency. So long as religion continues to exist I am grateful that at least some clergy will put the well being of people above that of religious dogma.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


"The kind of fraud which consists in daring to proclaim the truth while mixing it with a large share of lies that falsify it, is more widespread than is generally thought"
Marcel Proust

Catholic Idolatry

I find it very amusing that many Christian denominations have always looked down on pagans and various non-Christians for things like idolatry. This is amusing in part because it is so blatantly hypocritical. A fairly recent Catholic Herald article on the Pope is a really good demonstration of how self-deluded and full of shit the Catholic Church is, at least on this point.

How any Catholic can square the contents of the CH article "In front of Fatima statue, Pope Francis entrusts the world to Mary" with the basic idea of idolatry is beyond me.

Just for clarification the Chambers 21st Dictionary defines idolatry as follows:
noun (idolatries)
1. the worship of idols.
2. excessive, love, honour, admiration or devotion.
idolatrous adjective.
idolatrously adverb.
[13c: from Latin idololatria, from Greek eidolon idol + latreuein to worship.]"

Religion really does warp people's ability to reason and think critically, especially about their own beliefs.

Not Ideological?

Why do people give Pope Francis so much credit? He has yet to match anything he says with positive actions. In fact, he frequently acts in opposing ways. All the talk about being friendlier to women and homosexuals seems to have been pretty well negated by his actions. He has stated definitively that the Vatican will not even consider ordaining women (In the Catholic church only the clergy have power). He has excommunicated a priest who advocated for homosexuals.

With those examples in mind, head lines like "Pope Francis describes 'ideological Christians' as a 'serious illness'" come across as outright farcical. How the fuck is the Catholic Church itself not ideological? It isn't as if the church bases its doctrines and policies on objective criteria. Only a completely clueless and delusional ass could make such a blatantly hypocritical statement. By his own words in combination with a basic understanding of the term "ideological" there can be only one conclusion. The Pope is very ill!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


"A stupid man's report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand."
Bertrand Russell
The History of Western Philosophy

Self-delusion is not Proof of anything

Even though I do find many of the pieces on Salon interesting, I do not place much confidence in their accuracy. A handful of recent pieces seem to be outright silly. One piece I had a good laugh over was Kerry Eleveld's "GOP civil war! Poll shows Tea Party disdains religious right." Kerry has definitely partaken of the Tea Party Cool-aid. Just cause a handful of Tea Party goofballs say something does not mean it matches reality. All you have to do to see through this bullshit is review the past and present darling of the so called "Tea Party" movement. If these groups disdain the religious right so much why do they support candidates that either have direct links to, or frequently pander to the religious right.  Allen West, Christine O'Donnell, Eric Cantor, Ted Cruz....are all lackeys (champions if you are of that mentality) of  the religious right. Another good example of the disconnect between such polls and reality can be found on the various websites maintains by these groups. If Eleveld had spent even ten minutes with Google she should have been able to find a handful of such sites. Scroll through and you will find any number of religious right mouthpieces.
Here's an example (less than a minute to find), on Tea Party 911 you can find there officially endorsed candidates. The first one listed is Matt Bevin who notes his backgrounds is "...built on a bedrock of strong Christian values..." Even though he has not yet placed much emphasis on his positions on social issues publicly it seems a bit too coincidental that they line up precisely with those of the religious right.

Basically, not only is the "tea party" a faction of the Republican Party it is also allied with the religious right. Those that claim to disdain it while upholding its position are just demonstrating how idiotic ignorant and hypocritical they are.

Actually, Atheists Can't be Pigeon-holed

Why is it that the very same individuals who can't be bothered to take the time to look up a basic definition or conduct the slightest fact checking feel free to expound on the traits/qualities of various topics, concepts, and groups of people? The Republican Party's hostility to both atheists and secularist is not news. It is a long standing trait of the party. However, CJ Werleman's piece in Salon, Atheists can’t be Republicans, is pretty damn foolish. I may not understand why any self respecting atheist chooses to belong to the Republican Party but the fact remains that there are both atheists and secularist in the Grand Old Party. Atheists can be Republicans. It seems just as idiotic as homosexuals and women choosing to join a group that is drenched in homophobia and misogyny, but they join and remain in the party all the same. It is an interesting title anyway given that Werleman does point out how diverse atheists are as a whole.

It also escapes me how CJ can make such blatant calls for us to "grow up." What are we being immature about? Because we don't find the need to brow-beat each other into conformity with a specific set of political norms? I'd also appreciate more clarity on the "image problem" he imagines we have when it comes to Islamophobia. It is a common enough charge but has little validity. Sure, some atheists have said some stupid things but I have yet to see how it rises to the level of controversy the media keeps insisting on. If any such critics ever took the time to look beyond sound bites and attempt to put things in context they'd discover that most of the atheist, though not all, have well thought out arguments regarding not only Islam but religion in general.

Debating from Ignorance

The repercussions from Oprah's recent televised stupidity involving the distance swimmer Nyad may end up leading to some positive discussions but that does not mean that she is herself a legitimate partner in such discussions/debates. She is, in fact, one of the worst possible candidates for such an exchange. I feel it necessary to clarify a little. I am biased when it comes to Oprah. I have for quite some time considered her to be a vile, ignorant, and arrogant media-whore.

My first impression of her from watching her talk show a few times in the 80s has not changed much. My soon to be sister-in-law convinced me to watch a few episodes with her. The first one I saw outright infuriated me. There were a few women she had brought on stage supposedly to speak out about rape. Both were rape victims themselves. When Oprah didn't get the answers she wanted as quickly as she wanted she badgered them until they broke down in hysterical sobs. The second show wasn't much better. A woman who suffered from chronic intense migraines was brought on to talk about the condition. Oprah did the same thing. The woman had just explained she was having trouble focusing on the questions because her meds weren't working very well. Rather than give her a moment to collect herself Oprah chose to viciously verbally attack her. For years after that I refused to pay any attention to her rising career.

After college a friend of mine convinced me that she had changed and was doing a lot of great things in regard to promoting history and literature I gave her a another shot. As it turns out nothing had really changed. Most of what she was peddling was not real history. Her episode on the then recent release of the movie Amistad was an excellent example. She was promoting the idea that all Americans of African ancestry were descendants of slaves. Though I agree that slavery is a shameful aspect of our history that should never be forgotten or excused I DO NOT agree with promoting false history to achieve it. Any one with an interest in history could easily discover that her claim was a blatant lie. For example the first African-Americans to end up in Virginia were indentured servants not slaves. There is nothing in the historical record that indicates they were treated any differently than the "white" indentured servants. Granted, such servants were treated like shit but it doesn't seem to have had anything to do with their ethnicity (authority and economics mattered). What of those individuals who migrated before and after the end of slavery? Were they ot real Americans? She has since established a rather terrible track record for promoting all sorts of faux-history and pseudo-science.

However, she is not the only one guilty of being an ignorant ass in the various comments and arguments that have sprung up around her exchange with Nyad. A recent piece on the International Business Times website, "Can Atheists Still Be Spiritual? Oprah Prompts Debate", is a pretty good example of how much of the "debate" is a bunch of drivel. It all seems to hinge on being completely ignorant of even the most basic terms and concepts involved. The big one, of course, is the idea being associated with "Spirituality." The simple answer is that atheists probably can't be "spiritual." The problem with pointing that out stems from the fact that the term is being misused and pressed into perpetuating a number of myths and biases. Spirituality is a religious term that cannot be separated from its supernatural underpinnings. Nyad screws up by accepting the term. Awe and wonder are not really synonymous. You can find wonder and beauty around the world without accepting any supernatural bullshit. There shouldn't really be a reason to debate the point that atheists are human beings. That is what assholes like Oprah seem to be trying to do. They want to make us seem less than human by insisting we can't have feelings and emotions like theists. So long as "debates" are set up this way there is no real point in engaging such blindly ignorant bigoted morons.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored."
Aldous Huxley

Can a Mythical Figure make Predictions?

Even if you make the huge assumption that King David was an historical figure there are still problems with Joe Badens CNN Belief blog post "How King David predicted modern Judaism." One major flaw is that "King David" didn't say or write anything about himself even if he did exist. Every passage related to David in the Bible is attribute to other authors. Most scholars long ago figured out that even the psalms he supposedly penned were most likely written by others after his supposed life time.

As for the "prediction" Badens claims, that is also nonsense. His own writing refutes the notion.
"The Israel we know today is a nation that David created virtually out of thin air. Before David, there were two territories, Israel to the north, and Judah to the south."
How does merging two previously established territories qualify as "virtually out of thin air"? Any King seeking to consolidate power would do the same. That is simply a natural progression of political power that is not innately religious let alone unique to a specific religion. A handful of paragraphs later Badens adds an even more telling comment,
"We tend to think of Israel in biblical terms: the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the land of the 12 tribes. These concepts were created in the wake of David’s reign."
So, he admits to certain aspects of the Biblical David being fabricated* but fails to question those elements he's counting on for the pieces main premise. How convenient.

The piece never gets any better. None of it is supported by known history. In some ways it is rather impressive how ignorant and delusion Badens is regarding a number of fields of study. Most of the concepts and themes he brings up can be explored from Archeology, Anthropology, Sociology, Psychology, Theology,... He doesn't managed to adhere to the basic research principles of any of these fields. All of which can provide at least partial insights on the rise and establishment of Judaism. Inconveniently for Badens main point is the fact that Judaism predates the sections of the Bible that David is referenced in. There is also a considerable amount of debate about how different Pre and Post-Temple Judaism really is and whether those differences are as significant as they have traditionally been accepted to be.

*Yet another topic I have commented on previously.
Speaking of Faux History (7-16-11)
Family Values with a side of Indigestion (7/28/12)
"History" in the Bible (3/10/13)

On Occasion Answers are Simple

Even though it rarely works out that way, there are sometimes very simple answers. A recent American Buddhist Perspective blog post recently asked a fairly routine question: "Buddhism: religion or philosophy?" It's a religion. Buddhism by its basic principles is a supernatural based belief system, which therefore makes it a religion. It may be true that it is one of the more philosophical religions but that does not make it any less of an organized religion.

Mr. Whitaker throughout his piece seems to make comments to the effect that he knows this already. Throughout he seems to be trying to reconcile himself to the possibility that it could be equally both. I disagree mainly because it ignores a number of common critiques of common theistic assumptions. It doesn't matter if religions are capable of being a specific way if it is possible to be that way without any religious elements. He talks about reducing Buddhism to "techniques" which is the same half-assed argument used in promoting Yoga in public schools. "Yoga" the way many people "practice" it is a matter of technique/method devoid of its original religious overtones. That isn't really Yoga. Essentially you are mixing calisthenics with meditation. It does not require any supernatural beliefs let alone a belief system. Adapting meditative and relaxation techniques from Buddhism does not make you a Buddhist.

If individuals adopted some but not all the various religious based principles along with the methods then you might have more of a debate/question. That does not seem to be what Whitaker is talking about. Buddhism is by its nature a religion. It is just as attached to supernatural thinking and concepts as any other faith.*

I have previously written about Buddhisms supernatural underpinning;
How Atheistic is Buddhism? (12/31/11)
Buddhism and the God Concept (2/24/13)

The Stupidity of Low Standards

Even though the first few paragraphs may imply that the question in James Tabor's recent post may have some merit it doesn't take much to figure out that it is utter nonsense bordering on idiocy. "How Christian Is the New Testament Book of Revelation?", is a question that to some degree destroys itself. Which religion draws any authority from the New Testament? That's right the answer is Christianity. If you applied Tabor's incredibly low standards consistently then the New Testament is itself not "Christian." There are no unique or original elements contained in what most consider the truly Christian half of the Bible.

So why ask the question? Most of the Gospels (the entire Bible, in fact) are loaded with all sorts of incoherent and even horrifying passages. Revelations is one of the most problematic books in the New Testament for far too many reasons to cover in a single post. The point is that many modern "scholars" and apologists are constantly trying to find ways around such problems. As far as I can tell this is the only real reason for Tabor's piece. Distancing your preferred Faith from unpleasant aspects in one section of scripture while preserving the rest is not a new tactic. Others have tried it and many more will try it. It is intellectually dishonest and ultimately a failure.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


"I count religion but a childish toy,
And hold there is no sin but ignorance."
Christopher Marlowe

"Gay rights vs. religious rights"

I keep coming across the notion that by accepting gay rights you automatically must be infringing on someone's religious rights. Bullshit! There is s simple way to demonstrate that this tactic aimed at fighting the slow steady move towards equality for homosexuals is complete nonsense. Simply swap "homosexual" for any other identifiable group of people (ex. African Americans or Jews). If it doesn't sound reasonable anymore then how is it okay when aimed at homosexuals?

A couple fairly recent posts try to go after homosexual equality by making specific points.
Religious News Service "Gay rights vs. religious rights: 7 issues to watch"
Patheos "When religious liberty clashes with gay rights"
None of them stand up to any scrutiny. For the most part all the various arguments can be boiled down to two very bogus premises. First, they rely on the assumption that religious people somehow have, or should have the right to impose their views on others. They do not! These "points" also rely on the assumption that homosexuals and/or the government is somehow going to force people to participate in the lives and activities of homosexuals. They can't. I have yet to hear anything about there even being a desire to do such a thing. If an individual feels their religion forbids gay marriage they do not have to participate in one or have anything to do with it. As for the idea that someone should have the right to refuse services to gays that is no different than refusing services to any other group. If your service is offered to others (rather than expressly private) you forfeit the ability to pick and choose based on broad categories like gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc.

There is no innate conflict between gay rights and religious rights when it comes to civil law. Only the most ignorant, narrow minded, bigoted assholes could cling to such a bogus stance.

Jesus still hates himself

Though there are any number of claims that can be made and supported by scripture about Jesus there are a few that are outright ludicrous. The notion that Jesus hates religion is both incredibly silly and very ignorant. This is not because you could cherry pick and interpret scripture to back the claim but more that you have to have scripture to enforce the claim in the first place. The earliest information, in fact the only information, about the Jesus figure comes from religious texts. Without religion (specifically Christianity) Jesus ceases to exist. Even if you make the huge assumption that there ever was an historical Jesus, the Christ figure would still be completely unknown today without religion.

"'Jesus (still) hates religion’: An interview with YouTube sensation Jefferson Bethke", a recent post on Jonathan Merritt's blog, is still a pretty interesting interview to read. I genuinely like Jefferson Blethke despite is naive and ignorant take on Christianity. His YouTube video, which I've written about previously (May 17, 2012 Naive, Idealistic, and Ignorant, but not Controversial) , is worth watching. I have also previously commented on the bogus notion that Christ can exist separate from Christianity (December 21, 2012
Actually, Christ does Need Christianity). I would point out that the reverse is not true. Christianity can survive even if its adherents finally accept that Christ is a myth.

"God's will" is our will

Timothy Dalrymple's recent Philosophical Fragments post is loaded with not only fragments but lots of philosophical holes. "Mistaking God's Will for Our Own" has numerous problems in its logic. He fails at establishing a basic premise to start with. How can any human or group of humans even come close to determining what God's will is? He himself notes that we are imperfect while God is perfect but fails to take that notion to the next logical step. We can't know "God's will." In practice God's will has to be our will. It can never be anything more than our own biases and interpretations that creates this "will." So form start to finish God's will is our will. If that is a mistake then it is an innate mistake that cannot be otherwise.

This, of course, only matters if you fail to see the huge assumption underlying the whole argument: God exists. No one has yet provided any proof that God actually exists. Basically God is a human fabrication and therefore leads to the same conclusion anyway. God's will is our will. Religious people can dress it up in any number of arguments they want but the result is the same. Theists choose to believe in God just like they choose the type of God they prefer and the "religious experience" they want. God and religion are a convenient set of ideas that can be used to reinforce and justify what individuals and groups want to be true whether they are or not.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


"Delusion is the child of ignorance."
Bhagavad Gita

In poor taste?

I don't necessarily disagree with the commentary that putting a cross emblazoned cracker on top of a burger is in poor taste. Personally, I would agree with such statements for a more specific and technical reason. It is literally tasteless. The cracker is without flavor. As for the insistence, especially among Catholics, that it is "crass and offensive" I find it ludicrous and rather hypocritical.

I say especially Catholics primarily because their own doctrines claim that the eucharist* literally becomes the body and blood of Christ. What is more crass and offensive; creating a burger in homage of a band you happen to like or believing that you are eating the actual body of another person? Even doing this symbolically I find rather creepy and disturbing. So, Christians who is really being rude and offensive? I'll taking poking fun at a patently absurd ritual over knowingly ritualizing cannibalism.

*An actual consecrated wafer and wine rather than a pretend one. Assuming, of course, you don't see the whole ritual as a twisted and perverse fantasy.

Yes, Jonathan there is Context

In a recent Religious News Service post Jonathan Merritt once again does an incredibly shoddy job of reporting what he claims is the "woeful silence of the American church in the face of a global epidemic of Christian persecution." His blog post entitled "Three reasons the American church is ignoring Christian persecution" is really just warmed over Christian Right persecution paranoia. He takes a few grains of truth from widely exaggerated, misleading, and biased sources and then repackages it as if he actually knows what he is talking about. His main source seems to be the deeply flawed piece by Kristen Powers at the Daily Beast. He makes references to a number of puff pieces and out right hack jobs from sources like USA Today and The Hudson Institute. He doesn't seem to have bothered to do even the most basic fact checking of a single one of his sources. This would be bad enough if they were drawn from reasonable researched sources but not one of his sources has any credibility when it comes to investigative reporting. In fact, a few of them are routinely exposed as bigoted liars.

There are far too many problems with both his sources and his own writing to do them justice on a simple blog post so I will focus on one very important one: context. For Merritts piece to actually have any merit (yes, the cheesy pun is intended) the "facts" would have to be put in context. Sadly, it is true that somewhere in the world you can find ample evidence that one religious group or another is being persecute and even killed. This should not be allowed. However, making such hyperbolic claims about Christians being persecuted when put into context actually has the opposite of effect of what Merritt seems to intend. It debases the piece to absurdist theatre. When you look at both who is being persecute and who is doing the persecuting, Christians are the least victimized of all. What about Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, or the countless indigenous faiths?

Not one of Merritt's 3 reasons stands up to any critical examination. In a global context it comes across as pathetic satire. If you narrow to a North American context it would be more accurately characterized as the school yard bully complaining that a few students refusal to give up their lunch money without being beaten led to his getting a bruised fist. And, no I am not justifying or rationalizing Christians being persecuted. Again, no one should be persecuted. If your Religion happens to be "the" dominant faith* on the face of the planet complaining about being abused when you have done little to help those being similarly abused comes across as being a pampered cry baby.

*No one in their right mind can possibly claim otherwise given that the overwhelming majority of individuals and groups that dominate the world's social, economic, and political institutions are Christian.

"12 'blasphemous' artworks censored or vandalized by angry believers"

I have written about this sort of thing in past. I don't necessarily want to go through it again but felt that the Religious News Service piece referred to in my post title was well worth taking a look at.

"12 'blasphemous' artworks censored or vandalized by angry believers"

It's sad that even a fraction of believers from various religions find it necessary to do this kind of shit.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


"Trust a witness in all matters in which neither his self-interest, his passions, his prejudices, nor the love of the marvelous is strongly concerned. When they are involved, require corroborative evidence in exact proportion to the contravention of probability by the thing testified."
Thomas Henry Huxley

Myth + Myth = History on HuffPo

Despite the bullshit title, "Synagogue In Mary Magdalene's Hometown Offers Clues About Judeo-Christian Worship", roughly half of the this HuuffPo piece is legitimate. It talks about an archeological site that could reveal some interesting and insightful finds related to 1st Century CE. The other half is basically pandering drivel. Not only is there no evidence at this site that can be associated with either the Jesus figure or the Mary Magdalene figure there is no such evidence anywhere else. They talk about them as if they are well established historical figures. It is also a bit irritating that they throw in a bunch of links pretending that it gives the piece more authority. If they actually went to something of substance that might help their case but links like the one attached to "an exact death date of April 3, 33 A.D." simply go to other HuffPo produced nonsense.

Had Bennett-Smith stuck to the actual details of the dig the piece would have been pretty interesting and worth reading. Throwing in so much speculation about figures that only exist in scripture transfer what could have been a piece about history into a campy childish tale on religious myth and fantasy.

"Racism" as a Convenient Gag

The original Guardian post by Nasrine Malik was bad enough but when Alternet chose to re-post it they made it slightly dumber and more bigoted. And, yes, Malik's "Message to Richard Dawkins: 'Islam is not a race' is a cop out" is very prejudiced. Despite her attempt to project her own biases onto Dawkins and other atheists the fault lies at her own feet.

From the very first paragraph she rather lamely tries to conflate criticisms of Islam with racism.
"Of late, a new variation of the old chestnut 'I'm not racist but …' has emerged. It goes: 'I've got nothing against Muslims, it's Islam I hate'. Otherwise known as the 'Islam is not a race' argument."
Right away she makes a number of common mistakes prevalent among theists. Even if she cannot distinguish the individual believers from the the religion they follow does not mean that Dawkins and the rest of us can't see the difference.

She quickly follows this up with a definition of racism that does not support her main premise. Malik makes a feeble attempt at rationalizing how this definition should be reinterpreted. There are a variety of problem with her line of thinking but I will focus on one very telling one. Her standards of reasoning are so low that by accepting her preferred interpretation of "racism" there can be no legitimate criticism of Islam so long as there is even the slightest bit of ethnic diversity among individual Muslims. In effect, she is arguing for an "old chestnut" of her own. It goes: Religion must be respected and revered by all simply for being religion. Bullshit!

The HuffPo title for the re-post, "Why the New Atheists Need to Stop Slamming Islam", is worse than Malik's own title yet it is slightly more honest. It comes closer to what seems to be the real purpose for its writing. They want to be able to tell atheists to shut-up while holding the moral high ground. None of the lame excuses for claiming that criticizing Islam is racist actually apply to atheists alone. Just the opposite is the case. Even if you can find non-atheist critics that Malik's caricature of racism applies (sadly there are quite a few) it still has nothing to with with atheists. Virtually all the arguments/criticism Dawkins has made can still be made if every Muslim on the planet magically turned into white upper middle class men (like Dawkins). I can't think of a single criticism made by myself or other atheists that use race let alone rely on it. So, where's this "racism" she wants to smear us with?

Makes me wonder if a prominent black atheist came to Malik's attention would she make the same argument? Maybe she should seek out an interview with someone like Jamila Bey. It seems to me that in this instance it Malik who has the preoblem with prejudice and bigotry.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


"That's all religion is -some principle you believe in... man has accomplished far more miracles than the God he invented. What a tragedy it is to invent a God and then suffer to keep him king."
Rod Steiger

An Idiot's Deal

Rachel Held Evans does seem to be a nice enough person but she has proven on more than one occasion that she is equally clueless and rather willfully ignorant. Here recent piece, "Hey atheists, let’s make a deal", is so loaded with false equivalencies, double standards, and outright bullshit it's hard to decide where to start. To make it simple I just start at the beginning.

Her very first paragraph states, "Famed atheist Richard Dawkins has been rightfully criticized this week for saying the 'mild pedophilia' he and other English children experienced in the 1950s 'didn’t cause any lasting harm.'" Notice she doesn't bother to mention who has been criticizing him. She never bothers to mention that some the earliest and most vocal critics have been atheists. I have myself read some rather scathing takes on Dawkins latest stupid comments by among other P.Z. Myers, Greta Christina, and Ophelia Benson. She can't mention that since a huge chunk of her narrative relies on falsely implying that we atheists don't go after are own when they act like assholes. We do.

She quickly follows this nonsense up with,
"Dawkins is known for pushing his provocative rhetorical style too far, providing ample ammunition for his critics, and already I’ve seen my fellow Christians seize the opportunity to rail against the evils of atheism.
As tempting as it is to classify Dawkins’ views as representative of all atheists, I can’t bring myself to do it."
Here we get a twofer; a false equivalence combined with a myth. Later she brings in Pat Robertson as a sort of Christian counterbalance. But there is no equivalence. Dawkins never sites atheism as a reason or justification for his comments. What does his atheism have to do with it? How can any decent rational human being even consider tarring all atheists with the comments of one individual who just happens to be an atheist? Robertson has not only said far worse but always justifies it with Christianity. He even quotes scripture (you know, that stuff all Christians claim to be sacred to them). As for Evens not bringing herself to tar atheists, ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING?! That's pretty much the whole point of the piece. That's what the "deal" in question is about.

After proposing her deal not to throw Dawkins in our face if we don't throw Robertson in Christian's faces she comments, "Believe me. There are plenty of Christians who raise hell every time Robertson says something homophobic or a celebrity pastor somewhere says something misogynistic." Who? I have heard some, usually liberal leaning theists, offer rather mild criticism but "raise hell"? I can't think of a single critic of Robertson who did try playing the "True Scotsman" gambit at some point during their milk-toast criticism of him. They always try to distance themselves by implying if not outright claiming Robertson isn't a "true Christian." Of all the atheists I've read that berated Dawkins, not one even suggested he isn't actually an atheist.

She continues her string of false equivalences and double standards two paragraphs later with,
"What if, instead of engaging the ideas of the most extreme and irrational Christians and atheists, we engaged the ideas of the most reasonable, the most charitable, the most respectful and respected?"
Now I freely accept that Dawkins in the past few years has made some rather stupid comments but I fail to see how they rise to the level of "most extreme." They certainly are nowhere near as heinous as the things Robertson and any number of other Christian leaders have spewed. And what exactly is it about Robertson's views that any "Christian" can really refute? He has on numerous occasions quoted verbatim from the Bible. But, no we can't engage in a way that might actually question the very underpinning of Christianity without being label all sorts of ugly things. Scripture is the foundation of Christianity whether Christians want to face it or not.

Towards the end she rambles on about Dawkins not being representative of atheists and throws out the names of some atheists she seems to like. It's a nice little sop but does nothing to diminish that fact that the whole tone and outlook of the piece is built on and perpetuates a variety of myths and stereotypes. It is also rather pathetic that her main points depend on double standards, logical fallacies, ignorance that borders on delusional.

What deal? Does she really think others won't continue to tar and feather atheists on the flimsiest of excuses. She can't even acknowledge that she herself is guilty of doing the very thing she's asking others not to do. Then again, our criticism actually have a basis and we don't have a problem policing ourselves. We will continue to behave rationally and ethically whether or not theists choose to follow our example.