Sunday, October 25, 2015


"Psychological well-being is not determined by the presence of one type of emotion but by a diversity of emotions, both positive and negative."

June Gruber
"Sadness is always bad, Happiness is always good"
This Idea Must Die

Perception doesn't change Reality

Any experienced social scientist knows that by themselves self-reported results don't mean all that much. They are great for getting broad basic information and in helping determine further areas of study. The Pew Research Center is excellent at this type of broad swath data collection. Unfortunately, their results are all too often misconstrued and abused. A recent Religious News Service piece is a great example of this bogus approach. Cathy Grossman's "Do science and religion conflict? It’s all in how you ‘see’ it" does a disservice to one of the recent surveys conducted by Pew. The title isn't too bad but the writing implies things that are blatantly false. Just because a large number of people are able to reconcile conflicting ideas or institutions does not mean the conflict is not there. I have previously written about this issue. Check out my November 6, 2011 post "Science Vs. Religion" Despite people's desire to pretend there is no conflict I have yet to come across a well supported argument that counters the fact the two are opposed to each other by their very nature.

Rhetorical or not

I do understand that in many instances when a theist asks a question like the title in a recent Watching God post, "Should Christians Watch Horror Movies?", it is meant as a rhetorical device as it is a genuine inquiry. However, I find such questions to be by their nature ignorance laden. Anyone who values critical thinking should see just how foolish these questions tend to be. The answer is always what the theist asking prefers it to be. There are no definitive well founded answers. There cannot be any given the completely subjective amorphous nature of supernatural based concepts.

Paul Assay goes through the motions of reviewing some of the common reasons given for supporting or opposing watching Horror movies among Christians but it is notable that he never gets around to a rather obvious problem with allowing horror movies. They tend toward the absurd. If anyone among the theist crowd ever made a push to dismiss them on this point they run the risk of exposing their beloved religious beliefs to the same critique. That's a far larger problem than any of the others Assay does note.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Conflating Religion With Morality

David Gushee seems to have trouble following the train of thought he himself initiates. In "Do the Democrats have a moral agenda for 2016?" he does note how superficial politicians can be when talking about religion. Sadly, that's about the only thing Gushee gets right. Throughout the piece he tacitly accepts the all to prevalent view that religion automatically translates into morality. It doesn't. He never seems to realize that his conflation of the two only serves to reinforce a blatantly false and dangerous myth. It should also occur to anyone with any sense of history, reason, and decency that mixing religion into politics has almost always made things worse.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Not heartwarming, at all

I frequently come across fluff pieces that many seem to think are heartwarming and inspirational. I don't doubt that is at least part of the author(s)' motivation for writing them but I actually find them rather disturbing. In a number of these scary human interest stories the element that transforms them into supposedly inspirational tales is religion. A recent entry on Huffington Post, "How 6 LGBT Catholics Kept Their Faith -- Despite Being Shunned By The Church", is a prime example.

If you replaced "LGBT" with housewives and the "church" with wife-beaters how heartwarming would the story still be? The underlying principal is the same. A group of people are standing by those that harass, denigrate, and abuse them. It's despicable not inspiring.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

No such "peace" has been made

The Fortune piece entitled "The Pope makes peace between science and faith" is patently absurd. Not only does the author fail to provide any arguments to support the claim the piece routinely slips into a whole slew of logical fallacies. Almost nothing stated stands up to even the slightest fact checking or critical thinking. Reading this short bit of tripe is rather tedious and painful. Kluger starts with a number of cheap shots at atheists and never gets much better in his reasoning. And, of course, a key point never seems to cross his mind.

The very idea that the head of one of the largest Christian denominations could ever bridge the gap between science and faith is ludicrous. For whom is Christianity named? The Christ figure is the antithesis of science and critical thinking. Who in their right mind can truly reconcile the notion that a person can spontaneously raise themselves from the dead? No one who really respects the scientific method can accept the resurrection stories. What about the miracles? What about the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. According to Catholic teaching the Eucharist literally, not symbolically, becomes the body of Christ the moment the priest blesses it. Since when is magic part of Science?

Sorry, Jeffrey Kluger, but you are a complete moron if you think the Pope's agreeing with scientific consensus on a few specific topics qualifies as making "peace between science and faith."