Showing posts with label gay marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gay marriage. Show all posts

Friday, November 25, 2016

We Are Still A Liberal Country

November 8th was not a referendum on liberal vs conservative values. First, it's important to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million votes and counting. Second, this election was not about the traditional social issues like same sex marriage and abortion. It was about jobs, trade, and immigration. Now yes, while it's true that building the border wall and deporting illegal immigrants is a strong conservative view, immigration is not a typical social issue in the same way that same sex marriage and abortion is.

So as a socially progressive liberal, Trump's election didn't really phase me. The American people are not turning the clock back on decades of social progress and going back to the close minded views of the past. More Americans will be moving towards liberal views on same sex marriage, abortion, marijuana legalization, and more Americans are will be becoming increasingly secular in the coming years. Our attitudes on political correctness, long associated with liberals, will probably have to be reconsidered in light of Trump's win, but that's something I personally support.

It is true that legally speaking, many policies and laws can regress back to past decades. It is possible that a Supreme Court packed with conservative justices can roll back certain progressive decisions that might effect us for decades. And that's scary. We might see creationism back in the schools, the 10 commandments back on public court houses, and Roe v Wade struck down. So there will be no doubt many epic legal challenges over the next 4 years due to Trump's win and my friends and I are already talking strategy about what we may need to do. This is a time for action. Let's hope Trump's win unites atheists, secularists, and liberals like never before. It's time now to set aside minor disagreements and to focus on the big battles up ahead.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Election 2016 - Who I'm Voting For & My Election Prediction

This Tuesday is election day and I find myself for the first time in a troubled situation. There is no one on the ballot that I really support. Unlike in 2008 and 2012 where I was a pretty strong Obama supporter, this year there isn't anyone I'm enthusiastic about.

Obviously this election is different than most years because of Donald Trump. It's the first time we have a major party candidate who has no political experience I think since George Washington. He's rambunctious, foul-mouthed, unconventional, and a little crazy — to say the least. Trump becoming president is terrifying on so many levels. He lies through his teeth so blatantly and with such utter disregard for truth that he's taken the concept of the "lying politician" to a new level. Indeed, his brain seems to be impervious to facts. He's proposing filling the Supreme Court with Scalia clones, which if another justice dies in the next four years will tip the court conservative enough to reverse Roe v Wage and Obergefell v. Hodges, effectively turning abortion and same-sex marriage back to the states. Trump has no serious knowledge of the way government works, or the world, and he as all but the most simplistic understanding of the political issues our next president is going to have to deal with. He's a wild card, unpredictable, capable of undermining our democracy and stability, and his VP pick Mike Pence is one of the most conservative members of the Religious Right in the nation.

If Trump is going to win he has a narrow margin in the electoral college. Here's a possible winning scenario for him. Trump would have to win Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan. If not Michigan, he'd have to win Pennsylvania. He also has to win Iowa. Or if he loses Iowa, he has to win New Hampshire and all the typically Republican states. Hillary Clinton just has to win just two of those states and Trump's done. The electoral college heavily favors democrats.

Click the map to create your own at

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).


Sunday, May 22, 2016

George Carlin Was Wrong On Voting

I've been running into many people lately who say voting is a meaningless process when I bring up politics. One guy I was talking to recently brought up George Carlin who was very critical on the voting process (among other things). George Carlin said repeatedly in his standup gigs and on TV and other media outlets that voting is pointless because the game is rigged, the country's ruled by a small group of people who have all the real power, and they've set up a system to give you the illusion that you actually have a choice when you go out and vote, but you don't.

Now look. I'm a huge Carlin fan. I love his stand up and his general philosophy. He's genuinely funny as fuck. But he's wrong on voting. First, let me say that I partially agree with him that there are people running the country who don't give a crap about regular working folks like me. This is not to say that there's some secret conspiracy, like the Bilderbergs, or the Illuminati. There is some truth to that but I'm not a conspiracy nut. There are various competing groups in various areas of the world in various sectors who have a disproportionate amount of power. That's always been the case. But aside from this partial truth, to not vote is not going to make the situation any better for thinking and working people who want rational policies. It will make it worse. Here's why.

We have to acknowledge that not all politicians are the same. No one in their right mind would seriously believe that a Ted Cruz presidency would've had the exact same laws and policies passed as a Bernie Sanders presidency. If you believe that you're insane. These two men couldn't be more ideologically different. The same is true of past elections. Do you really think that a John McCain presidency would've had the exact same laws passed that president Obama passed? Do you think universal healthcare, and same sex marriage, and the ending of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would've been passed under president McCain? Do you think McCain would've appointed the same Supreme Court Justices as Obama did? You know the same-sex marriage decision came down to just one vote don't you? A one vote difference would have made the country completely different. Elections matter, and presidents appoint Supreme Court judges and Congress votes them in, and you vote-in the president, the senators, and the congressmen and women.

If you don't think your vote counts, think again. The reason why Bernie Sanders didn't get more votes than Hillary Clinton is because his base is among young people and too many young people have bought this meme that all politicians are the same and the game is all rigged and so your vote doesn't matter, so don't vote. Nothing could be more insane. This guarantees that you will never get your way in the political system. In case you don't know, the people who are not buying this meme are the older religious white conservatives who often vote for religions Christian dominionists who want to turn the US into their Christian fantasy land. The religious right in this country wants to live in a very very different America than secular liberals like me.

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:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Atheist Reviews The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New Atheism (Chapter 1 Bad Religion)

On almost every page of Feser's book he seems to make about 10 ballsy points that I disagree with. It makes me want to refute his book line by line like I sometimes do with Christian apologists like William Lane Craig, but that would take me forever and isn't realistically possible. Instead, I will have to summarize what I think are his important points and address them, while hoping that I don't miss his intended argument.

Feser opens up chapter 1, entitled Bad Religion, mentioning the alleged conversion of Anthony Flew from atheism to deism. To be honest with you, I never knew about Flew until a few years ago, and even today I know little about him. He was known for being a prominent atheist during the 20th century, but in 2004, it was reported that he became a deist. I can see how many theists would love to showcase such an example of an atheist's change of mind. Feser brings up Flew's alleged conversion because he thinks it was due to an underlying adoption of an Aristotelian metaphysic, and Feser argues that this is what's been erased in modern philosophical thinking. Adopting classical Aristotelian metaphysics, Feser states, "effectively makes atheism and naturalism impossible."(7)

Without defining secularism again, Feser asserts it's a "religion to itself" and is "necessarily and inherently, a deeply irrational and immoral view of the world". (2-3) He accuses secularists of being intolerant of defectors with "close-minded prejudice" and that they hypocritically act just like the religious believers they oppose. (2) He seems to have no problem conflating "secularist" with "atheist."

There are many ways one can use the term secular. It has both a political meaning and a philosophical meaning. In the political sense, secularism is "the principle of the separation of government institutions and persons mandated to represent the state from religious institutions and religious dignitaries." To be a "secularist" in the political sense is to maintain that principle regardless of whether one believes in god or not. A theist can therefore be a political secularist. However, in the social or philosophical sense, secularism can be a "social philosophy that rejects all forms of religious faith and worship." This definition can be almost synonymous with atheism, since virtually all atheists are secularists in the philosophical sense. But a deist can be a secularist in the philosophical sense too, and a non-religious theist arguably could be as well. This makes the term "secular" very confusing and the context it's being used in very important, and Feser should have made that less confusing by defining what he means, especially when he calls secularism "deeply irrational, immoral, and indeed insane." It seems that Feser is using the philosophical sense of the word rather than the political sense, but he never makes that clear.

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, July 12, 2014

Republicans Have The Same Misconceptions Of Reagan As They Do Jesus

What's wrong with republicans?

Today's republican party are politically the biggest and most stubborn babies perhaps in the history of the US; certainly since World War II. They're a bunch of anti-birth control, anti-middle class, anti-secularist, anti-evolution, anti-science, climate change denialists who have been completely bought and sold by their corporate fundraisers. They hate the President with a passion and are willing to disrupt government and jeopardize the welfare of the people just to prevent him from getting any serious bills passed because they don't want him to leave the White House with a positive legacy. Any time you hear a republican sound off on science, sexuality or economics you can almost guarantee that you're going to be hearing something profoundly idiotic.

Republicans have two dead heroes that they love to put up on a pedestal and idolize: Ronald Reagan and Jesus Christ. And what makes these two icons of the republican part so odd, is that if you really look at what each of them did and said, it is antithetical to their primary agenda. While the hypocrisy is astounding, it's what you'd expect from an anti-intellectual party.

Let's look at former President Ronald Reagan, the political icon of the republican party, who all party members must speak about with the utmost admiration. Ronald Reagan raised taxes 11 times when he was in office, he gave blanket amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, he traded arms with terrorists, he nearly tripled the federal deficit, and he increased the size of government. Reagan wouldn't even be able to win a primary in today's republican party because he'd be too far to the left. And yet, republicans have this image of Reagan as the ideal president - a model for every future republican with presidential aspirations. But his record clearly deviates from the modern script the party has devised today. Reagan was willing to compromise, he was sometimes willing to do the right thing and get government moving by finding a middle ground between his party's ideology and the left's. Compromise has become a dirty word today in the republican party and as a result we've got a congress that is the least productive in history.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Real Challenges For Atheism Are Social

With the after math of yet another successful debate win on the side of science and atheism upon us, I do have to say that the hard questions facing atheists are not really scientific or metaphysical ones, they're social challenges like, how to deal with death as an atheist, finding purpose, happiness and meaning. I know that there are many online communities that have risen up to this challenge to offer support networks and advice. For me personally, living as an atheist, and dealing with the issues we all face and struggle with, has never really been a challenge. I almost wish I could say that I overcame a fundamentalist upbringing and eventually saw the light that is atheism, but I didn't.

I've always dealt with life's challenges free from any kind of religious help or support structure. The only time I've felt bad about myself is when I failed to live up to my expectations. Well, my family and friends have also had an influence on me. But religion never had anything to do it. Another problem atheists face is that the critics will always say things like atheism necessarily leads to gulags, death camps and tyranny. Nothing could be further than the truth. Tell me Mr. Critic, why aren't there death camps all over Western Europe now, or Japan? Surely the precipitous drop in these country's religiosity would necessitate that. But no. We see a definite correlation with lower levels of religious belief with lower crime and higher standards of living.

I was just reading an op-ed on the NY Times by one Ross Douthat, the resident conservative at the mostly liberal paper. He writes that, "the various problems with today’s happy atheism — problems that should be obvious to those with eyes to see — are sufficient on their own to drive secular liberalism toward the kind of intellectual crisis that seems to me to lurk, iceberg-like, somewhere out ahead." He's hailing the coming end to atheism; that it's just one crisis away from disaster. I completely disagree with his premature calculation. While it is true that there have been many premature declarations of the end of religion in the past century or so, I think the recent rise in secularism and atheism is here to stay and will be a increasingly unstoppable force. The reason why it is different now from when Nietzsche declared god was dead, or when the counter-culture jettisoned traditional Christianity in favor of quasi-spiritualism, is because of the internet. The internet means that if I hear an apologetic trick, I can easily Google it and find dozens of sites criticizing it and breaking down its failed science and logic. Old-school apologists who continue trotting out the same old tired and refuted arguments who aren't aware of this fact are sealing their own religion's fate, and it ain't gonna be pretty for them.

To me, the internet is without a doubt the single biggest reason why atheism is on the rise and it will eventually lead to the death of religion. Social progress on issues like gay marriage are another important reason and Douthat acknowledges this too. But apparently theists like Douthat think all this hoopla over atheism today is just another cultural fad that's headed for a collision with an iceberg any day now and that we're one crisis away from hundreds of millions of people in the West picking up their Bibles and reconnecting with the Lord. Perhaps they are not aware of the way technology and social issues have changed the playing field. I seriously cannot image the West going back to good ol' Christian values based on that old time religion.

Atheism is here to stay and no, death camps are not inevitable because of it. Take that, Douthat.

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.

Friday, January 31, 2014

I'd Be Scared To Be A Republican

The republicans are losing the American public on almost every front. They're clinging desperately to outdated morality from bygone eras in the wide-eyed hopes that they will one day become the cultural and political paradigms again. But here's a news flash: we are never going back to those "puritan" times that republicans fantasize about. Ever. The momentum of the culture is rapidly swinging against their favor and it's hopelessly naive to not recognize this. Younger Americans are even changing their mind on socialism, with almost half of 18-29 year olds viewing it favorably, according to a new Pew survey. So if you're a staunchly conservative republican who supports "traditional marriage," unfettered capitalism, and you're against contraception, abortion and secularism, your demographic is shriveling up like an old man with shrinkage.

If I were a conservative or a republican, I'd be really scared of these trends. The big money spent to brainwash the masses via the likes of Fox News and World Net Daily will only go so far. It seems that the only way the republican agenda will be able to survive this massive cultural paradigm shift away from their values will be through the support of a handful of wealthy donors like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson. But as the republican base of older, rural, white Americans begins to die off, all that big money spending will increasingly become less and less effective. And republicans know this. So what we've seen in response are increasingly unfair tactics employed by the republicans to try and win elections. Jerrymandering is a prime example, but eventually none of it will be enough. When generation Y and X are in power, liberal values will be the norm, and those who are in support of conservative values will be all but shut out. They will be left to certain rural districts of the country and could disappear from the radar altogether as this century marches onward. What we'd see would be the death of the far right, replaced by a moderate conservative wing, resembling something like today's libertarian party e.g. liberal social values coupled with conservative economic policies.

As a liberal, I of course see this all as something immensely positive, especially after surviving the hellish ordeal of the Bush years. But I cannot imagine what it must be like to be a republican today - that is to say, a republican who isn't insulated in the bubble and who thinks that the party is doing just fine and that any day now we'll just start repealing all the liberal advances society has made thus far. To be a republican who lives in reality must be a scary thing.

That said, the future looks good for liberalism, at least in the West, but we've still got plenty of struggle ahead.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hipster Atheism

When I'm out drinking around town and strike up conversations with strangers, I often want to talk about beliefs. I'm fascinated about exploring other people's worldviews. Lately, most of the young people that I've talked to have all been atheists. This may not come as a surprise given that I live in New York - a very liberal city and a third of all Americans under 30 have no religion, but here in New York the number of atheists/non-theists seems to be much higher than a third. It seems to be a majority.

New York has one of the largest hipster communities in the world, and Williamsburg (which is only a few miles from where I live) is considered the official hipster capital of the world. I don't have official statistics, but in my experiences with the hipster community, atheism or agnosticism seems to be rampant. Atheism seems to be "cool" with the fashionably conscious. It's very rare - almost never, that I run into a young person who actually believes in a theistic god within the context of a particular religion. While I think it's fucking awesome that so many young people are catching onto atheism in numbers that have never been seen before in the US, I certainly want to keep atheism a plausible intellectual position and not just some trend that will be jettisoned once it gets too popular. That's because once something goes "mainstream," hipsters are required to hate it by law, and the growing popularity of atheism might backfire if "uncool" people in backwards parts of the country start embracing it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Curious Case Of S.E. Cupp

OK, let's get one thing out of the way right now: she's hot. Like blood-leaving-my-brain-going-somewhere-else-so-I-can't-think hot. But I must not let her hotness influence my criticism of her. She's been called out by many atheists for her self loathing attitude towards her own worldview. (I thought that was reserved for Jews.) I don't get this woman. She proudly proclaims her atheism, but then spends much of her time criticizing atheists as "militant" (for the heinous crime of ranking politicians on their attitudes towards things like secularism and evolution!), says she'd never vote for an atheist president, and actually helps the Christian Right strategize ways to combat secularism. WTF?

Talk about self loathing. I mean Jews and Christians can be self loathing, but this is extreme. I'm having doubts that she really is an atheist, and not just a ploy to make atheists look bad. Older Fox News watching conservative religious Americans can watch her mouthing off rants against the intolerant godless liberals who are waging war to "overthrow God, and silence Christian America for good.” And they'd fall right for it and say, "Look, she's an atheist, she's one of them and she's exposing what we've been thinking is true all along! She must be right."

Does she really believe what she preaches? I'm not sure. An atheist can certainly be a conservative, although almost all atheists are socially liberal, even if they are fiscally conservative. But how can an atheist truly support the Christian Right in their attempt to destroy the separation of church and state? It's like a gay person supporting the discrimination against gay people. (She even hurts her own support for gay marriage when she helps the Right, this shows what a hypocrite she is.) That's where the self loathing part comes from. I've yet to actually meet any fellow atheists who were against secularism, at least not soft secularism. No one is advocating that all religious belief be banned and wiped clean from society. Not the American Atheists, nor the Secular Coalition for America, nor is Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris. But apparently for Cupp, preserving Jefferson's meaning of the First Amendment, separating church and state, is too militant.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

If I Were A Christian, What Kind Of Christian Would I Be?

An interesting thought experiment recently occurred to me. If I were a Christian, what kind of Christian would I be? The idea popped into my head while recently debating a few different Christians on several fronts. Now mind you, I don't think I could ever actually be a Christian, certainly not without actual evidence that it's true. But if I somehow converted, what possible kind of Christianity could I embrace, given my life-long atheism?

Well first, there's the idea of denomination. What denomination would I pick? I was raised in a culturally Catholic environment, but I dislike the Catholic Church so much, that I don't think I could ever call myself a Catholic. The same is pretty much true of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which is pretty much just another form of Catholicism. I actually think that Protestantism would appeal to me more, and there are over 40,000 varieties of it. I do like the openness of the Episcopal Church, but it does resemble Catholicism a bit too much. It could be said that the Episcopal Church, which is just the American branch of the Church of England, is Catholicism lite.

The evangelical churches bother me a lot, especially because they're so fundamentalist. And I'm not crazy about Baptists. In fact, pretty much all the Calvinist denominations sicken me. So it seems to me that if I were somehow a Christian, I'd have to be non-denominational. I'd essentially have to have my own theology, and interpret Christianity my own way.

Being a scientifically literate person, I'd of course have to keep what we know about cosmology and biology into my theology. So I'd be a Ken Miller/Francis Collins type of theist. I'd believe in a god who simply created the universe, then stepped back and let it all happen according to the natural laws, and who then stepped in when the time was right. I'd probably also be spending my time trying to convince other Christians as to the truth of evolution and big bang cosmology. But, I'd have a problem with this because evolution is so necessarily cruel that I cannot imagine any all-loving god deliberately choosing this as his desired way to bring about human beings. So I'd have a theological problem here: I would not logically be able to believe in an all-loving god. My god would have to be capable of cruelty that is not necessary for any reason at least through his indifference to animal suffering. That would actually fit into the character of the angry Old Testament god.


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