Showing posts with label Homosexuality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homosexuality. Show all posts

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sacerdotus Is Stupid

A gay theist (gaytheist?) on the internet attempted to refute my recent post explaining why I'm an atheist. He claims it was "easy" and that I show a lack of understanding of science and philosophy! Ha! Nothing can be further from the truth. It's he who lacks in-depth understanding of physics, philosophy, religion, and atheism, and a refutation of his "refutation" was really easy for me, albeit just time consuming.

But since I'm off work for the next few days and I'm bored at home (it's freezing outside!) let me for the record refute his pathetic attempt at a refutation.

Here's his attempt at a refutation of my argument number 1. My original arguments can be read here.

1) The traditional notion of god isn't coherent

He responds:

The author here runs on a strawman argument. He simply does not understand the concept of God. The author assumes that God is subject to his terms or the terms of the understandings of man; that is to say, how we perceive and understand everything. He claims that theists resort to special pleading to address what he claims to be contradictions. However, he is doing exactly that. He argues that change requires times and fails to back this up. We know from cosmology that there was no time prior to cosmic inflation. Time is a product that came into existence after the "big bang." Despite this, a change did take place. If change did not take place, there would have been no "big bang" event. Moreover, the author fails to understand that God is a being, not a mere concept. This being is beyond all, transcends all. No theist, no atheist, no theologian or pope can ever truly understand God or explain Him. St. Augustine tried and experienced a vision of his angel as a young boy who was at the shore trying to put the ocean in a small hole in the sand. The boy went to and fro collecting water in a shell until St. Augustine stopped him and inquired as to what the boy was trying to do. The boy said he was trying to put the entire ocean in the hole he dug. St. Augustine brushed it off as a something that came out of a babe's mouth and explained that it was not possible for the ocean to be poured into a small hole. The boy replied that neither can he put the entirety of God into his mind.

Every time I'm told that a person has "refuted" atheism I'm sadly disappointed. This is one of those times. Here I'm clearly saying god is subject to logic. As I clearly wrote in the post, "god cannot do the logically impossible or be the logically impossible." These aren't my terms and conditions, or the limitations of human intellect, this is our ability to be logical. Deny this, and you throw all of logic out the window. That includes your ability to logically "prove" atheism false - or anything else. That change requires time is obvious and certain. To change requires two states of being that cannot exist at the same time, otherwise you'd get a contradiction: A = ¬A. This is logically impossible. That this guy doesn't understand that means he fails logic 101, and that means his assessment of the rest of the argument fails. This is why I like to get all theists to agree beforehand that god is not beyond logic. I do this because - exactly as I predict - theists resort to special pleading to explain away god's inconsistence. When he says god "is beyond all, transcends all. No theist, no atheist, no theologian or pope can ever truly understand God or explain Him," he is resorting to special pleading. If you can't coherently explain god, you can't coherently say god exists. This guy fails to do that. His response to argument 1 completely fails and did exactly what I predicted.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Toxic Masculinity From A Man's Perspective — Let's Go There

Author's note: I've been wanting to write more about social issues and sexuality for a while now. And since I just wrote a long follow up to why I'm an atheist, I thought I'd give atheism a rest for a little but. So I'm going to be focused on non-atheism and non-religious topics for a bit.

Just about a year ago I became aware of the term "toxic masculinity." While I had not been familiar with the term, I was aware of the concept. It's something I've been dealing with basically all my life. So what is it?

According to Wikipedia,

The concept of toxic masculinity is used in the social sciences to describe traditional norms of behavior among men in contemporary American and European society that are associated with detrimental social and psychological effects. Such "toxic" masculine norms include dominance, devaluation of women, extreme self-reliance, and the suppression of emotions.

According to Geek Feminism,

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

The "toxic" denotes a distinction between masculinity simpliciter. There's masculinity, and then there's toxic masculinity. In other words, some masculinity is good, and some masculinity is bad. (More on this later)

I definitely agree that there are common attitudes among men that are extremely destructive. I grew up in New York City and was exposed to the thug culture where you had to always be strong, never show any fear, and be willing to kick someone's ass at the drop of a hat if they disrespected you, otherwise you were a "pussy" or a "fagot." Now luckily I never went too deep into the thug culture, but I know from experience how utterly destructive it is.

Thug culture exemplifies the very worst of toxic hyper-masculinity. Every boy and man is trying to be the toughest muthafucka out there. No one's nice out of fear it will be confused with weakness. You can never show any emotion, vulnerability, or weakness of any kind. Women are to be used and abused to enhance the male ego and gratification. Homophobia is ubiquitous: gay males, or perceived gay males are to be bullied, harassed, mocked, and beaten up. The most aggressive, sexist, sociopathic male gets the most respect. It's insanity.

That was the culture I experienced growing up and I hated it. It was toxic masculinity on steroids. While other varieties exist to varying degrees, there are common threads: men must be strong, aggressive, unemotional, womanizing, competitive, and avoid doing things commonly associated with femininity. 

There are a couple of things to say about toxic masculinity as I see it from a male perspective. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Curious Case Of John Doe

Kevin Spacey was in one of my favorite movies of all time, Seven. In it, he played a fanatically religious serial killer who killed his victims according to the seven deadly sins of gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, pride, envy, and wrath. The movie is an absolutely brilliant masterpiece of story, cinematography, set design, acting, and editing all coming together.

Recently, as I became fascinated with religion I started seeing Kevin Spacey's John Doe character in Seven in a new light. Spacey has been accused of sexually assaulting men as well as some teenage boys for decades going back to the 1980s. He used the opportunity to come out as a gay man, revealing inadvertently that he'd been repressing his homosexuality for decades, at least publicly.

I always thought the character of John Doe in Seven was a little gay, and I've now begun to think that his Catholic religious fanaticism — which unambiguously takes a hard line stance on homosexuality, could be the reason why he killed in the name of his religion.

Oftentimes, repressed homosexuals who live in conservative religious communities and families become more fanatical and more fundamentalist than anyone else, like pastor Ted Haggard who railed against homosexuality only to be found paying men for sex. They're trying to prove themselves pious because of their internal struggle with their sinful desires. I imagine John Doe was most likely in that same situation: a repressed homosexual laden with guilt and confusion driven to violent religious extremism in an effort to prove how pious he is. There's probably scores of ISIS recruits in the same situation given how common this thread is.

And it seems that the real Kevin Spacey may not be that different. The recent allegations that he's been sexually assaulting men and teenage boys I think stems partly from his repressed homosexual desires. According to one account, Spacey invited a teenage boy over to his place and who he invited to sleep in his bed and when the boy refused and slept on the couch instead, he woke up to find Spacey holding him. This sounds to me like a gay man longing for male companionship, but doing it all the wrong ways perhaps because he can't come out of the closet.

Would Spacey have done such things had he just came out as gay earlier? Is his behavior a result of repressed homosexuality, or is it just a predatory sexual appetite like Harvey Weinstein's? I don't know. I'm totally speculating here. Certainly being gay in and of itself doesn't entail wanting to sexually assault men and boys. It's an aberration. 

The movie Seven doesn't go into such ideas so this is extra speculation on a non-extant movie character, but it could explain John Doe's behavior, and it could be the reason why he killed the way he did.

In that case John Doe's sin wasn't envy, it was lust.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

I Would Let Milo Speak On Campus, Under One Condition

A week ago the "dangerous faggot" Milo Yianopoulos was scheduled to speak at Berkeley University in California and some students violently protested and set fire to parts of the campus in opposition to him speaking there. This was widely reported in the news, and even the president tweeted that he'd withhold federal money from the campus if the university didn't allow free speech.

Much has been said about the kerfuffle, from how intolerant the Left is, to how all this protesting just raises Milo's profile, to how hateful his speech is. But I have a proposal. If I were the head of a university making the decision on whether or not an alt-righter like Milo gets to speak on my campus my policy would be this. I would allow Milo to speak on one condition. If he wants to speak on my campus, the format will be a debate. That's right. He can spew all his nonsense talk about how "Catholics are right about everything," but not in a way that it goes unchallenged. It's a debate or nothing. That's it.

I'm sure Milo wouldn't have a problem with that. Would he? The thing is, the Left indeed has lost the ability to debate and defend their views. They rely far too much on feelings and persecution complexes. The Left needs to learn how to debate again. And I'd use this as an opportunity to find the person who can best debate Milo and make it a must-see spectacle for all.

That just brings up one question: who's the best person on the Left to debate the dangerous faggot? I'd love to debate him, but I'm unfortunately a nobody. So this is an open question for me. Anyone properly debating him must be familiar with his arguments. Some generic Leftist who doesn't "get it" would be destroyed. Perhaps Kyle Kulinkski of Secular Talk? Hmm.

Just a thought.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Both Mainstream Political Options Totally Suck

And now for some political rants....

So this week we learned who the republican and democratic vice presidents are going to be. Donald Trump has picked Indiana governor Mike Pence as his running mate, and Hillary Clinton picked Virginia senator Tim Kaine as her running mate.

A few thoughts.

First, Mike Pence is a very socially conservative tea party favorite who denies climate change, evolution, and was even against the medical consensus that smoking causes cancer. He's about as bad as Ted Cruz is on religion and socially conservative issues. Earlier this year he signed a bill in Indiana that would have made it mandatory that aborted and miscarried fetuses be given a funeral and are either cremated or buried. Luckily it didn't pass. He supported a law that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians due to religiously held beliefs, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Then when it became controversial he backtracked on it. But still, you can see where his heart is. Pence is a deeply religious social conservative, and as a secular liberal that scares me. Combine this with Trump's arrogant disregard for facts and strong arm bully tactics, this could be a very frightening combination that I do not want to get near the White House. Trump will almost certainly appoint Supreme Court justices that want to restrict abortion rights, violate the establishment clause, and support "religious freedom" bills.

On the democratic side, things are no better. Senator Kaine is everything Bernie supporting progressives like me were fearful of. He's another boring, status-quo establishment politician, with a track record way too favorable to the donor class. He supported giving president Obama the ability to fast track the TPP (trans-pacific partnership trade agreement) which would, among other things, make it easier for corporations to sue the US government for profit losses due to environmental standards. The Clinton campaign has said he would officially come out against the TPP, but he has reportedly praised the TPP as recently as Thursday, making his opposition to it about as sincere as Clinton's is, which is to say he's full of shit. He signed a repeal of the estate tax in Virginia, something conservatives have been vying for. He has also supported bank deregulations. In all, he's a corporate friendly centrist democrat, far from the progressive that many of us had hoped for.

So where does that leave me? I'm in a fix here. I'm not excited about either ticket. They both suck to be honest. I've been thinking that I should vote for the lesser of two evils but I'm being pulled in the direction of voting on principle. There is the Green Party alternative Jill Stein who basically has the same platform as Bernie Sanders. Many Sanders supporters I know will be voting for her. It is hard to see myself voting for Clinton that serves as a vote against Trump. I've even heard a liberal friend of mine say Trump will be better for the country than Clinton. I'm skeptical about that, but it's possible. I'm going to have to wait until November to make my decision.

The interesting thing is that this year, unlike any other election year we've had in recent history, the republican party's platform is to the left of the democratic party's platform on trade and some economic issues. Perhaps what the democrats need is to get their asses handed to them in the general election so that the party realizes establishment candidates like Clinton and Kaine who aren't real populists aren't what the American people want. This will be an interesting general election.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Religiously Unaffiliated More Likely To Support Same Sex Marriage And Legal Abortion

It's no surprise that belief in god has consequences in how you vote and what views you hold. Given how the religiously unaffiliated are now the single largest voting block in the US, as well as the fastest growing, this will steer the country in a more liberal direction on social issues in the future. We're even beginning to see that as some Republicans are starting to soften up to issues like homosexuality for example. As a social liberal, I can only see this as good. Here is some of the poll data courtesy of PEW regarding the views of the unaffiliated.

The religiously unaffiliated vote overwhelmingly democratic:

They are much more likely to think abortion should be legal and favor same sex marriage than the religiously affiliated and general public:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Quote Of The Day: Homosexuality In Nature

Today's quote comes from a blog by Larry Arnhart called Darwinian Conservatism that I found through Secular Outpost. He makes a natural law case for homosexuality and gay marriage, and in it lists some facts regarding homosexuality found in nature. It is quite surprising how much we've documented. This is a great resource for anyone who denies there is evidence of this.

Scientists have observed homosexual behavior in 471 animal species--167 species of mammals, 132 species of birds, 32 species of reptiles and amphibians, 15 species of fishes, and 125 species of insects and other invertebrates (Bagemihl 1999, 673). Scientists have also observed that same-sex pairs have successfully reared young in at least 20 species. In some cases, one or both partners are the biological parent(s) of the young they raise together. In other cases, the partners adopt and care for young without being the biological parents (Bagemihl 1999, 23-26). Moreover, in some cases, the same-sex couples seem to be more successful in their parenting than opposite-sex parents.
We also now know that homosexuality is biologically natural in that it arises through the interaction of many biological factors in the early development of fetuses and children--genes and sex hormones shape the body and the brain in early life so that people are naturally predisposed to become heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual. Monozygotic (identical) twins are more concordant in their sexual orientation than dizygotic (fraternal) twins, which clearly shows a genetic contribution to homosexuality That the concordance between monozygotic twins is about 50% suggests that while there is a genetic influence, there are also other biological factors involved. And while there is no single "gay gene," there are probably many different genes interacting with one another in various ways that influence sexual orientation (Poiani 2010, 55-96). Explaining the biology of animal homosexuality requires a complex multicausal model (Poiani 2010, 401-425).


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My thoughts On The Anti-LGBT Laws

Recently, several American states, almost all of them in the South, have passed so-called "bathroom" laws against transgendered persons from being able to use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with. The laws, they say, are intended to protect women and girls from being victimized by men who will dress up like women just to enter a female bathroom for the purpose of assaulting or harassing them. To date, I don't think there has been a single case of such an incident ever being reported in the US.

But regardless of lack of evidence that there are men dressing up as women to victimize women in bathrooms, these "bathroom" laws were passed and I don't think many of these conservative lawmakers have fully realized the consequences of these laws they're passing. At least one potential problem came to my mind immediately once I heard about them.

Meet Buck. Buck Angel that is. Buck is a trans-male — he was born as a female but identifies as a male. He has a vagina. Under the new bathroom laws, Buck, and all other trans-men who were born female, would be legally required to use the women's bathroom. How do you think women are going to react when they see trans-men like Buck in a women's bathroom? They are going to think a man has entered and some of them will call the police. And trans-men like Buck might get arrested over and over again and each time have to prove their birth gender by showing the police their vagina. That is a very degrading and humiliating prospect when the obvious solution is to let them use the bathroom of the gender that they identify with. I'm not sure the lawmakers have considered this. And I'm not sure that they realize such a policy could make it easier for real men to enter a women's bathroom since they could be posing as a trans-male. There are also many trans-women out there that can pass as a natural woman and for me seeing one in a men's bathroom might give me a second look. I personally have no problem with trans-women in a men's bathroom, but not all men might be.

That's one reason why I think these anti-LGBT bathroom laws are not made with common sense in mind and will very likely lead to unintended consequences. North Carolina's law goes even further and prevents local municipalities from passing their own laws preventing these bathroom laws; Mississippi's law allows any person or business to deny services to same-sex couples, people who engage in premarital sex, or transgendered people under the guise of "religious freedom." They also allow employers to fire employees merely for being gay.

Oh Mississippi, you never fail to show the world how regressive you are.

This also means that I could be fired for being an atheist if my employer wants to on religious grounds. And I can be fired for having a sexual relationship out of marriage. This is madness. Since many theists often accuse atheism of being a "religion," then shouldn't I be able to fire Christians or deny them services based on my sincerely held "religious" belief that Christianity is immoral? Would any conservative law maker take that seriously?

When you offer a service to the general public, you must serve the general public. I'm a vegetarian. I'm against eating meat. And at my job I'm required to help companies that sell meat products make more money, enabling more meat eating. This is against my personal beliefs. But do I refuse to offer services to these companies? No. I even had to help a Christian company whose mission it is to strengthen faith in Christ make more money through the company I work for recently. Did I protest and refuse to support them on account of my anti-theism? No. I did my job. I don't make personal choices against customers at work. I was hired to perform a service and I perform that service for everybody regardless of whether their business conflicts with my personal beliefs. If I find that my beliefs conflict with the duties of my job, I should either quit or be fired. So the cashier who won't checkout pork products or alcohol products because they conflict with their beliefs should either quit their job or be fired. And the county clerk who feels it is against their beliefs to issue a marriage licence to a same sex couple should either quit or be fired. We all have to sometimes enable those who do things that violate our beliefs due to our jobs. And prepending the word "religious" to those beliefs doesn't make them any more important.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

An Atheist Reviews The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New Atheism (Chapter 4 Scholastic Aptitude - Part 2: Natural Law)

Natural law

I really suspect, at some level, that religion for many people today exists primarily as a means to justify their desire to control other people's sex lives and social interactions. It seems as if all the previous chapters and arguments were really just to lay the foundation for natural law ethics, whose proponents are totally obsessed with sex, as is the Catholic Church historically (and many religions in general). But first, Feser scoffs at Richard Dawkins' molestation incident when he was a boy and the "truly creepy vibes" he gets from a possible secular education standard which might be led by Dawkins' totally normal yet "blasphemous" views on sex that say, in part, "Enjoy your own sex life (as long as it damages no one else)". Oh my! How "creepy" of Dawkins to advocate for guilt-free consensual sex! The horror! No. The truly "creepy" views on sex are of course best exemplified by Feser's Catholic Church, given its obsession with chastity, homosexuality, and its massive pedophilia scandal. But anyway, to the heart of it:

The "nature" of a thing, from an Aristotelian point of view, is, as we've seen, the form or essence it instantiates. Hence, once again to hail in my triangle example, it is of the essence, nature, or form or a triangle to have three perfectly straight lines. 
When it comes to biological organs, we have things whose natures or essences more obviously involve certain final causes or purposes. So, for example, the function of final cause of the eyeball is to enable us to see. But suppose someone's eyeballs are defective in some way making his vision blurry. In that case, to wear sunglasses isn't contrary to the natural function of eyeballs; rather, it quite obviously restores to the eyeballs their ability to carry out their natural function. 
...whether homosexuality has a genetic basis the question is largely irrelevant. For it is quite obvious that the existence of a genetic basis for some trait does not by itself prove anything whether it is "natural" in the relevant sense. To take just one of many possible examples, that there is a genetic basis for clubfoot doesn't show that having clubfeet is "natural." Quite obviously it is unnatural, certainly from an Artistotelian sense of failure to perfectly conform to the essence or nature of a thing. And no one who has a clubfoot would...find it convincing that the existence of a genetic basis for his affliction shows that it is something he should "embrace" and "celebrate." Nor would it be plausible to suggest that God "made him that way," any more than God "makes" people to be born blind, deaf, armless, legless, prone to alcoholism, or autistic. God obviously allows these things, for whatever reason; but it doesn't follow that He positively wills them, and it certainly doesn't follow that they are "natural." So, by the same token, the possibility of a genetic basis for homosexual desire doesn't by itself show that such desire is natural...Even if it is established beyond a reasonable doubt that there is such a basis, with respect to the question of naturalness of homosexuality, this would prove exactly zip. (133-134)

Whew. Couple of thoughts. Why wouldn't a genetic basis for something be natural? If failure to perfectly conform to the essence or nature of a thing makes it unnatural, then almost everything we do and have is unnatural. The whole problem once again is trying to argue what you can do for triangles, for humans. Triangles are simple shapes defined a certain way. Humans are much more complicated and irregular to be compared in such a way. What is the perfect form, essence, or nature of a human being? David Hasselhoff? Brad Pitt? Michaelangelo's David? Joseph Smith? The Islamic prophet Mohammad? Or is it Jesus? He was supposedly celibate. Does that mean all sex is unnatural? No Catholic says that, but it would seem to conclude from the concept. Of course, I reject the whole conception of "natural" in this sense and many of us do too. "Natural" means of nature; it means existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind. There's a simple logical argument to show how god cannot merely allow natural defects, he must cause it, and whatever he causes he must positively will since god cannot cause something he doesn't will:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Religious Believers: If You're Against Church/State Separation, Here's How It's Gonna Work

In light of the recent uproar over the refusal by Rowan County clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licences to anyone in her county due to her "deeply-held" religious belief against same sex marriage, and her subsequent jail time, I've been motivated to write about an idea I've been entertaining on what a legal system could look like if government and religion were in business together.

Imagine if the government legally forced every religious person to live according to the rules of their religion so that they had to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. They would not be allowed to pick and choose which religious rules they wanted to live by or force others to live by. It would work like this. Everyone would have to register their religious affiliation with the government. For whatever religion you register with, special laws would apply to you on top of civil laws from that religion. So if you register as a Catholic, it would be illegal for you to divorce, or to use any contraception, have abortions, masturbate, have any sex outside of marriage, and even watch pornography. Your internet service provider would have to block pornographic websites from being accessed. If you register as a Muslim, it would be illegal to eat pork, drink alcohol, eat during Ramadan, have any sex outside of marriage, watch porn, and daily prayer would be mandatory.

All the special religious rules would be laws that each member of the religion would have to adhere to, under penalty of the law. Failure obey these laws would result in anything ranging from a fine, to a prison sentence. Your religion would be displayed on your state issued ID, so a liquor store clerk would be able to see if you were Muslim and trying to buy alcohol, and a convenient store clerk would be able to see if you were a Christian and trying to buy condoms, and they would be obligated to refuse to sell it to you. All the regular secular laws that exist would still apply to everyone, but the religious laws would apply in addition to them for registered religious adherents. If the two were in conflict, there'd be a general preference for secular law over religious law, so if someone's religion allowed human sacrifice, or wife beating, it would still be illegal for them.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Same Sex Marriage Legal In All 50 US States

Last week the US Supreme court legalized same sex marriage in all 50 states. While most people cheered, some fear that this was an assault on Christian values. Many of us, including me, thought the decision was inevitable, especially given the trends in recent years around the world towards legalization.

I care very little about the feelings of conservatives who don't like the decision. I care about them about as much as I care about Southern white racists who were upset over passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that forced the end of segregation. Is that to say that Christianity will be illegal, as some on the right are suggesting? Of course not. Americans are free to believe and practice whatever religion they want, so long as it doesn't violate basic equality and civil rights, like same sex marriage.

But, when ever you say that to a conservative, the usual reaction they give you is that the Supreme Court's decision will pave the way for bestiality and pedophilia, because hey, people who want to have sex with animals and children can't have their "rights" denied either, so the logic goes. But it's not a logical conclusion. The reason why we don't allow adults to have sex with children is because children are not old enough to legally consent to sex acts. This is because they are not old enough to make the decision, and they are less able to think of and handle the consequences of sex. This is why we don't allow children to drive cars: they are less capable of handing the responsibility. Children are also more easily taken advantage of by adults because their immaturity makes them more easily coerced, which opens up the greater possibility of abuse. The same basic idea applies to animals, and that's why animals cannot consent to sexual acts or marriages. So gay marriage is not going to pave the way to bestiality or pedophilia, as any proponents of those views would not be able to use the same arguments that support same sex marriage.

It's been a really bad week for conservatives. First ObamaCare survives, and now same sex marriage is legal nationwide. The court even ruled against Confederate license plates in Texas. If I were a conservative Christian, I'd feel like I just got kicked in the truck nuts. They're on the losing end of a culture war and they know it. The party that claims to represent them, the Republican party, needs to seriously evaluate itself. It simply cannot win on the socially conservative views it holds at a national level, and increasingly at a local level. But I suppose that's just one more reason for me as a liberal to celebrate.

Monday, June 22, 2015

"The Homosexuals" CBS Report - Nearly 50 Years Later

Back in the year 1967, CBS ran a special on homosexuality. Nearly 50 years later, with same-sex marriage now legal in 22 countries and growing, and dramatic progression in public opinions, it is quite shocking to watch the documentary in retrospect.

1967 was the Summer of Love. It was one of the pivotal years in the counter culture, where social change was rapidly challenging ideas of normalcy. Although free love was out in the air, most homosexuals in the country were in the closet, as were I'm sure most atheists. Every state except Illinois criminalized consensual homosexual behavior.

The documentary explores the attitudes and laws surrounding homosexuality. In particular is the widespread view at that time that homosexuality is due to childhood upbringing, and not the result of biology. One voice of rationality in the documentary is the writer Gore Vidal. "It is as natural to be homosexual as it is to be heterosexual," he says. "It is a completely natural act since the beginning of time."

Think about this. In 1967 the vast majority of Americans, and indeed the vast majority of the people of the Western world, thought homosexuality was unnatural. Today, a majority of Americans, 60%, think same-sex marriage should be legal. And 51% of Americans think homosexuality is something one is born with, up from just 13% in 1977. Vidal's views, shocking then, are the way most Americans think today. Why? Because he had rationality and evidence on his side. Given enough time, the truth will eventually become realized.

What can sound crazy and shocking can sometimes become normal, and attitudes on homosexuality are a perfect example. The myths and fallacies surrounding many aspects of human sexuality that are often upheld by ignorance and religion come crumbling down once the facts can breathe.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Religion Is Declining In The US, But Why? Here's A Few Explanations

Most atheists and secularists cheered this past week when the new PEW Religious Landscape survey made news showing the increasing secularism and the decreasing levels of religiosity in the US. Between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of Christians in the US decreased from 78.4% to 70.6%. The percentage of "nones" or the religiously unaffiliated, increased from 16.1% to 22.8%. And the number of atheists and agnostics increased from 4% to 7.1% according to the survey.

Nearly every Christian denomination decreased in numbers and the unaffiliated now outnumber the number of Catholics (22.8% compared to 20.8%) making them the second largest identifiable religious affiliation after Protestants, who now are less than half of the population 46.5%.

If you're a secularist like me this news is fucking awesome. It means we're winning, religion is losing, and the tide has clearly turned in our favor. It's felt that way for a while now. I live in a very secular part of the country so my gauge is a bit skewed, but it is very rare for me to meet people who believe in god and who are openly religious about it. It seems as if more and more, religion just isn't visible.

This recent trend towards secularization began in the early nineties, however, it has sped up tremendously in the past 10 years. But now the question sociologists and political scientists will be asking is: why? Why is the US, which for a long time bucked the trend towards secularization in the Western world, starting to rapidly secularize now? I have a feeling that the answer is very complicated. Luckily we have Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College to help make things a little easier. He specializes in secular studies and has written about the subject in great detail. Zuckerman has listed several possible explanations why the US is secularizing today. Here's his explanations of the increased secularism. In no particular order:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Islam Is A Big Problem And The Numbers Show It

Once again Islam is in the news for reasons that have to do with violence and a clash of ideals with Western freedom of speech. Last week, two Islamic terrorists broke into the headquarters of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and coldly executed several of is cartoonists and editors, killing a total of 12 people, including a police officer of Algerian descent. The motivation for the attack appears to be in retaliation of the paper's numerous cartoons portraying the Islamic religion and their prophet Mohammad in ways they consider offensive.

In the aftermath of the killings, thousands around the world have staged marches supporting Charlie Hebdo and free speech. "Je Suis Charlie" (I Am Charlie) became their motto. Pundits and talking heads from around the world have come out and given their two cents on the attacks and the problems with terrorism, immigration, and conflicting values the West faces with Islam. When people are killed over cartoons, it is every free speech advocate's duty to make those cartoons seen as much as possible. I really wished Hitchens were alive today as I have no doubt he'd have a lot of interesting things to say about the matter.

Someone who's opinion I also respect, and who is still alive, is Bill Maher, and he said over on Jimmy Kimmel recently, "I'm the liberal in this debate. I'm for free speech. To be a liberal you have to stand up for liberal principles, it's not my fault that the part of the world that is most against liberal principles is the Muslim part of the world." Another person whose opinion I admire is Sam Harris. He said on Real Time a few months ago (in a debate that got a lot of attention) that there are about 20 percent of Muslims who are sympathetic to the extremist tactics employed by terrorists. He was challenged over those numbers, and so I decided to take a look into the data that Maher, Harris and others often cite that shows disturbingly large percentages of Muslims worldwide holding beliefs that are antithetical to common liberal Western values.

In his criticism of Islam, Maher often cites a well publicized study conducted by the Pew Forum about the opinions of Muslims in various countries on a wide variety of issues, focusing on religion, politics, and morality. The study has raised some eyebrows in how alarmingly high the numbers of Muslims are who think that sharia (Islamic) should be the law of the land, adulterers should be stoned to death, and who think the penalty for leaving Islam should be death. But the numbers are a bit deceiving and Maher tends to exaggerate them when making his point, allowing his critics to an open door to attack him.

Let's take a look at that survey and crunch some numbers. I want to see if we can assess the overall extent to which Muslims around the world view sharia and and hold ideas that conflict with common Western values.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

I'm A Sam Harris Fan

At a cocktail party last night I ran into philosopher Massimo Pigliucci and we had a nice little conversation on philosophy and science. Talking philosophy is very different when you're talking with an actual philosopher who knows their shit. I brought up free will because it's one of my favorite subjects to talk about and I mentioned how I'm a big fan of Sam Harris. "Nobody's perfect," Massimo replied (he's a vocal critic of Harris). Like Harris, Massimo rejects libertarian free will as he says just about every respectable philosopher does, and says that he's "some kind of compatibilist." I told him of my struggles between compatibilism and hard determinism and mentioned how I think Harris, who's a well known hard determinist, makes a reasonable case defending the position. (Harris wrote a short book on it called Free Will.) This prompted Massimo gave me his thoughts on why he thought Harris' view on Free Will was wrong.

Even among atheists, I find myself occasionally defending Harris against his haters.

I first came across Sam Harris probably back in 2009 when I became obsessed with watching debates on YouTube between theists and atheists. I liked his ability to poke fun at religion and to use humor to expose the absurdity of religious belief. He's a controversial figure, even among atheists. He's got his fans, and he's got his haters. I'm a Sam Harris fan. I don't agree with him on everything, but I do tend to agree with him more often than not.

For example, I totally agree with him when it comes to Islam and the negative effect its beliefs have on people who are inspired by it to commit violence, oppression, and acts of terrorism. There is no doubt in my mind that violent verses in the Koran inspire terrorists like those in ISIS to behead infidels and take female sex captives. And political correction, especially among liberals, is preventing us from having an honest conversation about the relationship between Islam and violence, terrorism, sexism and homophobia.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Christianity and Homosexuality

The topic of homosexuality continues to be a hot button issue among many Christians. Most liberal Christians have accepted homosexuality as a natural aspect of human nature that is not harmful or sinful and have moved on. Most conservative Christians however, still think homosexuality is a sin that is unnatural and an abomination, and should either be discouraged or outright punished. Then there are Christians in the middle of this spectrum who are somewhat undecided on whether it's a sin per se,  it's unnatural, or should be tolerated.

Personally, the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality always showed me what a farce Christianity is. There are many reasons why. From within the conservative Christian mindset, I ask why god would create people who only desire a form of sex that god has deemed an abomination, and that possibly warrants the death penalty? This never made sense to me. So the conservative Christian often responds by saying that god didn't make anyone gay, rather, gay people "choose" to be gay through sin out of free will. This makes no sense either given the evidence. One cannot "choose" what sexually arouses them. I cannot make myself get an erection from something that does not naturally turn me on. I either get aroused, or I don't. I don't choose what sexually arouses me. So why would a heterosexual man, who is sexually aroused by women, one day "choose" to only get an erection by other men? That just doesn't happen. Homosexuals are wired to be sexually aroused by the same gender and is not something of their choosing.

So, the fundamentalist position on homosexuality is obviously false. Homosexual desire is not due to willful sinning, it's something innate. And that leaves us with the moderate position within Christianity, who rejects the fundamentalist's view that homosexuals are just straight people who are willfully sinning and recognizes that it's an innate part of human sexuality, but are not willing to go as far as the liberal Christian and say that homosexuality is just as normal and good as heterosexuality. That is, they still think it's a sin and against god's will, even though they acknowledge it's put into the "design" of human beings by god.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

An Atheist Reviews The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New Atheism (Preface)

Feser starts out the preface of his book going on a long tirade about the "metaphysical absurdity and moral abomination" of same sex marriage. He bemoans the "sexual libertinism and contempt for religion" that has been allowed to become common and public and no longer the "private eccentricities of a decedent elite". In doing so he comes off sounding a lot like Archie Bunker did when seeing the effects of feminism and the civil rights movement, and to me it's very off-putting.

Feser would fit right into the Fox News spin machine. In fact, he could be the spokesperson for the religious right. He's angry that homosexuality is now tolerated to the point where gays have the chance to marry each other (the horrors!). He's angry that belief in god is no longer the default position accepted by academics, scientists, and philosophers. He's angry that the New Atheists and "secularists" have ushered in the "near total collapse of traditional morality," as he phrases it. The bottom line is that Feser is very angry with the way things are and the way things are headed. And I can totally see why. If I were a conservative Christian, I'd be pissed at the direction Western culture is headed. "Traditional" values are being replaced by "progressive" values, traditional religion is being replaced by non-religion and atheism, and the cultural and legal power structures that have allowed religious conservatives a stronghold on society and politics for so long are collapsing. While this is all music to my ears as a progressive and an atheist, it's no wonder people like Feser are pissed.

Feser's conservative Catholic attitude towards morality, society, science, and philosophy are exactly why I'm an anti-theist and hold religion in contempt. The kind of theist Feser represents is what motivates me to spend the hours that I do trying to refute and help destroy the religious worldview that I think poisons the mind and is harmful (not to mention false). Feser not only contends that belief in god is perfectly rational when seen in its best light, he maintains that atheism is logically impossible. Secularism, he says, "ought to be driven back into the intellectual and political margins whence it came," because it's a "clear and present danger to the stability of any society". The thing is, Feser never actually defines secularism in the preface and seems to use it interchangeably with atheism. So it's not clear what he's arguing against and he seems to think his audience will just know that secularism means something tantamount to atheism, which is untrue. But nonetheless, these are bold claims and Feser knows it, and in the following chapters he will try and justify them all. For now, he just seems to need to get his disdain for New Atheism off of his chest.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Generational Divide On Attitudes About Sex

55% of Americans now think that same sex marriage should be the law of the land, but when you look at it demographically from an age-point perspective, you can see a clear generational divide. 78% of 18-29 year olds think it should be legal but only 42% of those 65 years or older think so.

But more than just same sex marriage, the older and the younger generation are divided on basic attitudes on sex that have long persisted. The Sex Positive movement, with the help of the internet (or perhaps because of the internet?), is helping to shape progressive, positive and healthy attitudes towards the most taboo subjects on sex. It is bringing the long held myths about sex and its many quirks and kinks out into the light from a perspective that doesn't look at it with shame and embarrassment, but instead examines all forms of sexuality from the clarity of reason and science.

And the older generation is slowly catching up, although they're where the younger generation was a generation or two ago. Many of our old-fashioned attitudes about sex persist because of religion, and it is no surprise that many in the Sex Positive movement reject traditional theism. The older generation is much more religious than millenials are and their attitudes about sex perfectly correlate with their religiosity. Older, mostly religious, Americans tend to hold old-fashioned attitudes and myths about sex and sexuality, while the younger and increasingly secular and non-religious Americans are embracing progressive views on sex at dramatically high rates. Gallup recently ran a poll that showed 72% of those 18-34 think premarital sex is morally acceptable, while a smaller (but still majority) 56% of those 55 and older think it's morally acceptable.

It is clear in which direction views on sex are blowing and we're never going back, lest radical Islam somehow triumph. Aside from that, it appears the Western world is steadfastly sailing towards a complete abolishment of traditional, often religious based views on sex that have persisted for millennia. I'm all for free and open reasonable perspectives on sexuality that are free from myth and all forms of ignorance, especially dogmatic antiquated religious ignorance, and it recently occurred to me that I should be more vocal about it. So expect in the future more posts addressing the divide between progressive and conservative views on sex and sexuality and where I stand on the issues.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Few Notes On Spirituality & "Beloved"

I just got back earlier this week from a week-and-a-half long vacation in Oregon. I had attended a music/art/spiritual festival called Beloved and I also got to see my mother, sister and my eight year old nephew. At Beloved, I got to spend several days camping with thousands of free-spirited hippies, many of whom take their spiritual beliefs very seriously. And I have to say it was a very enlightening experience. I spend my time around mostly secular people who rarely, if ever, show any strong outward signs of religiosity - even those who believe in god. So after speaking and spending time with several thousand people who'd probably self identify as "spiritual," I have gained a new perspective.

I wasn't there to preach to anybody. In fact I kept my atheism in the closet the whole time. I was there to learn. I was there to absorb. I was there to warmly educate myself on a slice of humanity that I rarely encounter. "Beloveds" as the attendees are called, are free-spirited hippie types, who mostly feel very passionately about the earth, the environment, humanity and humankind's connection to the spirit world.

On the first night, around the "sacred fire" where at night I would sit to warm up from the cold mountain air, one of the hosts gave a speech about fire. He spoke of the ways in which fire is misused, such as in war, and spoke of the ways it should be properly used. Then we were all instructed to give thanks to all four directions, north, south, east, west. I played along and participated, hoping that there would be a strong emotional response in me, but there wasn't. I seem to have an adverse reaction for group rituals. To me, anything that appears religious or cult like, such as group rituals, makes me uncomfortable. On the second day, we did another group prayer. We were asked to think about those suffering in the world and I did get an emotional response. It wasn't the group prayer that I think did it, it was my empathy for those suffering. I've had emotional moments like that all by myself and so I know the way my body and brain react. Group prayer or singing still isn't my thing. Even Sunday Assembly didn't quite rub me the right way. I was amazed however at some of the people attending who really seemed deeply and sincerely connected to whatever spirits they believed in.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

William Lane Craig Argues For Same Sex Marriage (Sort Of)

On a Q & A a while back I think William Lane Craig inadvertently made the case for legalized same sex marriage! It happened on a question regarding, "Could God's Moral Commands Be Improved?" The questioner asks whether the commands god gave the Israelites could be improved upon. And Craig responds that, "God’s commands can be contingent upon the realities of the human condition relative to the times and places of the recipients of those commands," and that there is "a distinction between moral law and civil law." Craig continues, "Ancient Israel under Moses was a theocracy: God was the head of the government. We don’t live in a theocracy, so many acts which are deeply immoral (like adultery) are not illegal."

So here Craig seems to draw a distinction that what may be wrong in the eyes of god should not always be illegal. He seems to agree, writing:

Even though adultery is not illegal in a non-theocratic society, it remains a sin that that is deeply immoral in God’s sight. Since we live in a non-theocratic society, we should not try to make everything that is immoral also illegal.

But now the obvious question arises. If adultery is a sin in the eyes of the Christian god, but should not be illegal, then what argument does the Christian have against same sex marriage being legal? If a Christian like Craig can excuse adultery, which seems to cause far more damage to society than SSM, then he should also support the legalization of SSM since after all, we like in a non-theocratic society.

Now I know Craig is against SSM, but what defense does he have that allows legalized adultery, but not SSM? Is it because our society is "sexually promiscuous" as he says in the Q & A? Well homosexuality is promiscuous too. Does SSM cause more harm? Arguably adultery causes more harm because one is being deceived and it ruins marriages and families. Does it violate nature somehow? Craig has even acknowledged that homosexuals do not choose their sexual orientation, so homosexuality should be in god's plan, for some reason. Craig's arguments against SSM are laughable and pathetic, and deeply embarrassing for a man so well educated in philosophy. His attacks on SSM are the result of his absurd Christian worldview, which is why I could never accept it as the truth. Given Craig's apparent acceptance that secularism is a good thing that we "should" have, to me, it means that theists should be fine with SSM becoming legal since they hypocritically already support lots of other "sins" of lesser consequence being legally permitted.


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