Friday, July 27, 2012

Oh Dear God This is Awesome

That's it. No other comment. Just... go.

L O freaking L.

Monday, July 16, 2012

An Amusing Point About Agnostics

Mike Gene made me think about this, so I can't really claim full inspiration on this one.

Here's the Richard Dawkins 7 Point Theistic/Atheistic Certainty scale:

  1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.”
  2. De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. “I don’t know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.”
  3. Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. “I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.”
  4. Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. “God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.”
  5. Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. “I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.”
  6. De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. “I don’t know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”
  7. Strong atheist. “I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one.”

Dawkins famously ranks himself as a 6.9. Because they're all such free thinkers, the typical Cultist of Gnu ranks themselves at 6.9-7.

Now, here's something I find interesting. Mike Gene, a theist, places himself at 2.5. I'd probably place myself at 2, arguably 1.5. No surprises here.

But where would agnostics be?

Now, I know Dawkins will call himself an agnostic if you corner him. But, by his own scale, he's a de facto atheist. An agnostic could fit comfortably between 3-5, with 4 being as close to the classic agnostic view as one can get. As Mike Gene said, there's less distance between himself and an agnostic than there is between Dawkins - and, I would add, most of the Cultists of Gnu - and an agnostic.

I find this interesting, because one CoG move is to try and claim agnostics - and really, the entirety of the irreligious spectrum - as atheists. But Dawkins' own scale shows how problematic that move is. The CoG is, going by internet self-reporting, about as far away from agnosticism as is possible to get by this scale.

A minor, but amusing thing.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Problem with Capitalism and Christianity...

...can pretty much be summed up by pointing this out: abortion, pornography, prostitution, gluttony, avarice, and more are all things that, considering the free market in and of itself, are either goods, commodities or things that it may be economically wise to promote.

I'm not saying you can't be a Christian capitalist. I have strong sympathies in that direction. But if you don't recognize the status of those goods/services/perspectives in the raw free market, and if you don't try to figure out what the proper response is to that, there's a good chance you're engaged in some cognitive dissonance.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Media Doesn't Get Religion

You guys probably notice one thing I hammer on repeatedly is language. Context and communication are major interests of mine, particularly as they relate to topics of the Christian faith, and politics generally.

So I want to call attention to a site I'm adding to my blog list: Get Religion. Their main focus is on how the media at large covers religious topics - what language they use, what research they engage in, what they include, what they exclude. If you are at all interested in watching how the media covers religion, and great analysis on what they got wrong or right, check these guys out. It's a fascinating project, and should get vastly more attention than it currently does.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Freethought Blogs As Unintentionally Ironic As You'd Expect

Oh, PZ. Never stop being what you are: a freaking caricature of the worst aspects of militant atheism.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meanwhile in Russia

Anti-Putin Punk Rockers threaten to go on a hunger strike. Because if there's one thing Russian statists are afraid of, it's the prospect of people they dislike dying in their prisons.

Monday, July 2, 2012

How Christians Got Outmaneuvered on Gay Issues

I'll keep it brief.

* They treated "gay" as an identity and a cohesive group, instead of treating the subject as human beings who engaged in particular acts, or had certain proclivities. The moment same-sex attraction and sexual activity was no longer about action and instead was about actual existence - the moment it was no longer about "sodomy" but "gay people" - they set themselves up to be easily portrayed as persecuting a helpless group, rather than disapproving of particular behavior.

* They succumbed to using the language of the people who opposed them, forgetting that language determines sound bites, and sound bites determines how a lot of people think. "Opposing gay rights" is like "opposing women's rights" - even if the right in question is abortion, it sounds bad, and it cements the idea that what they're opposing is, in fact, a right. It also feeds into point one, where again the focus is on the people and not the acts. This is one reason why the pro-life cause has actually had some success - they refused to be "anti-choice", and when the opposition talks about "reproductive rights", the pro-life side talks about "abortion" and "murder in the womb".

* Working off 2, they shied away from explaining what they were actually opposing, possibly because of worries about language - allowing the opposition to be the ones to define what they were opposing. Oppose "homosexuality", and you're painted as (once again) picking on a group of people for having urges they had no choice in having - and yet, that's exactly what Christians allowed themselves to be painted as. Why? Because they treat the actual topic - sex and sexual activity - as off-limits, whether due to politeness or embarrassment. Which, in turn, allows their opposition to state things in the most dressed up ways without complaint. LGBSA groups defend "the right for two people, of any gender, to love each other". They never defend "fucking someone in the ass as sacred and pure". This is, even now, rather tough to defend.

* Working off 3, they blanket-condemned homosexual relationships without pointing out that, if you remove the sexual aspects, there's little to anything left to condemn. This is probably the most controversial part for any traditionalist Christian (and I am one myself) to accept in this post, and is no doubt in need of more clarification than I care to give at this point. But I stand by it. Remove the sexual aspects from a 'gay couple', and what are you left with? Pretty much, very close friends.

There's more to this, but these are the key points which bug the piss out of me. The language in particular, and I grind my teeth whenever I see a conservative Christian saying he "opposes gay rights". I know what he's saying, but he doesn't understand how it sounds, and what effect that has on his argument.