Friday, July 31, 2015
As reported by Pew.
Interesting. I can see why San Francisco's low, but I didn't really expect Boston to be so low because I associate it so strongly with Catholicism. But I guess its low rate of Christianity is because Catholicism is dropping so fast and it historically made up such a large percent of the population.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
This should be an interesting post.
My coworkers play the lottery and dream of being millionaires, as we all have. I too entertain that fantasy but I never play the lottery. I know the odds of winning are so low that it's not worth playing. But suppose I won 100 million dollars. What would I do with it?
Here's what I'd do.
First, I'd quite my job. I like my job. I like my coworkers. It pays decent and it's relatively low stress, but it's only something I do for the money. If I had 100 million dollars, I'd have no need for it.
Second, I'd give some money to my family. I don't know exactly how much I'd give to each family member, but they'd get enough money to live comfortably for a while. I don't know about distant relatives though. I have some relatives I only see every ten years or so and I'm not sure if I'd give them any money. This would be an open question.
Third, I'd get a really nice apartment in Manhattan. I'm not sure where I'd live. Midtown is nice and full of luxurious apartments, but downtown in Greenwich Village has some beautiful brownstones and is closer to the party scene and the cultural attractions. Either way, I'd have a nice spacious bachelor pad.
Forth, after I settled on a nice apartment, since money wouldn't be an issue, I'd pursue my dream of becoming a philosopher. I'd study all the things I find fascinating: metaphysics, ethics, the philosophy of mind and science, logic, political philosophy. I'd study history, sociology, religion, and politics. I'd take writing classes. I'd study science and various different humanities. I'd study secularism, which is now a thing. Once I got a degree, I'd go back and get more degrees, over and over again. I'd be a perpetual student. As new interests develop, I'd go study them. I'd eventually amass several PhDs. I'd probably go to universities here in New York, like NYU or Columbia, but I'd consider travelling. And I'd write. I'd write books. I'd use my knowledge to lecture and talk and devote myself to activism. Most of what I'd do would be to support the secular community and the progressive politics I hold. I'd become an expert in all the relevant fields. It would be fucking awesome!
It was a nice time with the fam' but I'm happy to be back in New York City. I'm such a new yorker that I get homesick very easily. When you grow up in one of the largest and most exciting cities in the world, almost every other city pales in comparison. Portland Oregon is a cool town, but it's a dinky suburb compared to New York City. I do like the fact that it's very liberal and quite atheistic. None of the people that I met there believed in god. They had all either been raised without religion or had given it up by the time they finished college.
Even my 9 year old nephew is a skeptic. He thinks god, religion, and spiritual beliefs are nonsense. He thinks the story of Moses and the Exodus is "stupid." I definitely see a little of me in him. (I was once that 9 year old skeptic debating my devoutly Catholic grandmother on god and evolution.) I told him that if anyone tries to tell him god exists they're making it up, and are most likely motivated by the goal of trying to tell him what to do and using god to justify it. There is no good evidence god exists or that any religion is true and it all comes down to faith claims. I'm not too worried that he's going to become a theist anytime soon. I think that once you realize religion and theism are bullshit, it's hard to go back. On top of that, my sister is not a traditional theist at all.
Anyway, I'm back and will be blogging again, hopefully more frequently rather than less frequently. I have several blog posts pending, including my lengthy review of chapter 2 of Edward Feser's book The Last Superstition. I also recorded a video of me talking to a street preacher who was a former male stripper and claims to be ex-gay. The audio and camera angles aren't perfect but it should be fun to turn it into a blog post. There's much more on the way as well. Stay tuned!
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Man I love blogging. I'd do it full time if it weren't for work and that pesky thing known as a "personal life." But I will have to take a slight break because I'm on vacation and I only get to see my family once a year. I have several new blog posts pending, including one on how to infer ontology that is part of an ongoing conversation with Luke Breuer, and one about the definition of religion, which will become a handy link whenever I get into the inevitable dispute of its cumbersome definition.
Also, my long awaited review of chapter 2 of Edward Feser's critique of New Atheism, The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism is almost done. I've already reviewed the preface and chapter 1, but chapter 2 took me a lot longer than expected because it's really heavy on philosophy and my goal is not just to review and critique Feser's book, but to summarize it so that readers will understand the metaphysics upholding his religious views. That means that my reviews will be lengthy, but they will serve as online resources for those who want to learn and hear a criticism of his book which few people have done before. I'm putting the finishing touches on it now and hopefully this will be done by the end of the month. Chapter 3's review is almost done too and should follow relatively shortly afterwards.
Then I have other topics potentially in the queue, including a critique of David Wood's reasons for being a Christian, which I think are really bad, a post about indoctrination and whether or not all teaching of children amounts to some form of indoctrination, a post about what I'd do with $100 million dollars, and maybe a post about whether "Only God can provide an adequate rational foundation for morality and unalienable human rights," as one theist tried to claim to me recently.
Also, I'm open to suggestions. If there are any topics that you'd like me to write about, I'd be open to consider them, depending on the topic and how much research it will involve. So, if you'd like, leave suggestions in the comment box.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
I can say, speaking as a man in his early 30s, technically a millennial, that it is fairly easy to get sex today. I think this is in large part due to the fact that our society has progressed to the point where female sexuality is liberated enough where modern women are owning their sex lives and doing it on their terms, and not the terms traditional society wants them to. This has inevitably resulted in it now being easier to have sex than perhaps ever before.*
I think that this overall is a good thing, but I recognize that there are probably genuine concerns and arguments that can be raised about potential negative effects. I'm not against traditional monogamous relationships and marriages, I'm for diversity for those who do not feel that the traditional model works for them. I think we would all agree that cheating is bad, but instead of doubling down and going back to that traditional long-term rigorous monogamy model, instead another view, the one that says making short-to-medium term relationships and polyamory more acceptable would be the best way to handle the fact that many people feel a strong desire to cheat, and often do. That way, we can be more honest about what we want and don't have to all pretend like we're all looking for marriage and kids, which many of us don't want.
I'm not even the kind of person who practices things like polyamory, but the principle here is what matters, and that is a society acknowledging a relationship spectrum where many views are accepted, instead of just the traditional life-long marriage model.
*I could be totally wrong on this and I have no way of telling how easy it really was get sex in all other places and eras.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Many Christian apologists will not accept the idea that biblical slavery in the Old Testament was indeed slavery. They think it was all voluntary indentured servitude, or something like it. Here's a quote from A History Of Ancient Near Eastern Law on slavery (emphasis mine):
A citizen could not be enslaved against his will if independent or
without the permission of the person under whose authority he was
if a subordinate member of a household. The only exception was
enslavement by court order for commission of a crime or civil wrong. Although in practice economic circumstances would often force a person into slavery, in law his act was, strictly speaking, voluntary. The foreigner, by contrast, could be enslaved through capture in war, kidnapping, or force, unless protected by the local ruler or given resident alien status. In the latter case, protection still might only be partial. As a proverb puts it: "A resident alien in another city is a slave."
To drive the point even further so that there is no confusion over whether this applied to Israel:*
188.8.131.52 Foreign slaves could be acquired by war, purchase, or birth. If a besieged city accepts the offer to allow their surrender, the people serve as tribute labor (Deut. 20:11). Should the city not surrender, men should be killed at capture rather than turned into slaves; women and children can be taken as booty (Deut. 20:12-14).
184.108.40.206 Foreign slaves bought from the surrounding nations or from foreigners living in Israel do not go out: they are inherited as property (Lev. 25:44-46).
The Christian or Jew who wishes to deny that some Biblical slavery was indeed real life slavery, little different from the kind we had in the antebellum South, and condoned by their god, Yahweh, is in utter denial.
Friday, July 3, 2015
On July 4th, America will celebrate its Independence Day. And on Independence Day, it's important to remember the greatest Englishman who ever lived. That man was none other than Thomas Paine. He wrote Common Sense, a strong polemic in favor of American independence which helped inspire the American Revolution. He spoke out against slavery at a time when it was a radical view. And he criticized the English monarchy, which caused him to flee to France where the French revolution was underway. After refusing to support the execution of King Louis XVI, he was imprisoned by the revolution and nearly executed. While imprisoned he began work on perhaps his greatest known book, The Age of Reason, a strong critique of religion, which still today remains one of the best critiques of theism. Paine, however was a deist, which was a popular view among intellectuals in the 17th and 18th century. He was progressive way beyond his time, and arguably wouldn't have much trouble fitting in in the 21st century. So remember him this 4th of July.
"I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church."
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit."
Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
There you have it folks. At the trial of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple living in Virginia who were charged with violating the state's racial integrity law, this was the "logic" cited in the case by the judge. If there ever was a clearer example of why we need secularism, this is it.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
I don't think I really have to tell you that Mormonism is a false religion, but just in case you had any doubts, or just in case you wanted to know why it's false, David Fitzgerald provides a wonderful presentation showing why Mormonism is not only false, but utterly ridiculous.