jamesq: (Default)
An interesting description on the real problems evangelicals face from the non-religious movement. They make believing out and out difficult:
Atheism is just….easier. Occam’s Razor. Theism is too much trouble. It starts to sound like someone is trying to sell you something sight unseen. Isn’t your best move just to hang up the phone and ignore the call?
What's really happening is that America is slowly going the same way that Europe has gone. Largely secular and not terribly noteworthy for all that - life goes on.
jamesq: (Default)
A thread on [livejournal.com profile] dark_christian poked a memory I hadn't accessed in a long time.

Back when I was still working at Office Depot, the guy who was the head of the computer department was an Evangelical (We'll call him Kurt, because that's not quite his name). Normally this didn't affect the work environment, but every now and then something would set him off. Generally it was talk about the validity of religion. I think at the time I had just been dumped by a girl who worked at the store and I was whining about it. He tried to cheer me up by giving some dating advice. If you had ever met Kurt, you'd know he wasn't the guy to be giving advice on how to pick up women.
"You know where the best place to meet women is? Church!"
"Even if that's true, I'm not going to go to church under false pretenses. For one thing, it's dishonest and for another I'm not religious."
And wouldn't that make great pillow talk later in the relationship? I'm so glad we finally consummated our relationship - by the way, your religion is a lie. I'd be a Grade-A cad.

Anyway, Kurt was surprised by my assertion that I wasn't religious (I didn't flat out state I was an atheist at his point).
"Oh it's all right if you're not religious. I don't believe in religion."
"If you don't believe in religion, what are you doing going to church then?"
"I don't believe in religion - I believe in Truth."
"What?"
"A religion is a false belief. My church isn't a religion, it's the truth."
"That's ridiculous, All religions, including yours, think they're the One True Faith. But nobody honestly has any proof of that."
"I can prove it - I've never lost a debate on God."
At this point I realized that Kurt was impervious to logic and debating him - especially debating him and possibly getting into a shouting match in the middle of the computer aisle at work - was not a thing I cared to do.
"You know what Kurt, I'm not going to discuss religion with you at work."
"I can debate you. I can prove it all to you."
"Kurt. I am not going to discuss religion with you at work."
"Seriously, I know I'll win this argument."
"I. Am. Not. Discussing. Religion. At. Work."
He tried again a few times over the next week, always with me cutting him off. Too bad really, I was willing to have this discussion with him, just not at work. Hell, buy me a coke at the bar and I'd have had a grand old time arguing with him. It would have been interesting because I hadn't refined many of my arguments yet. Things like standards of proof and why circular reasoning is a bad thing were all still things I understood internally but hadn't really articulated properly. It was all still rough draft.

Kurt got fired. Not sure why since he was decent at selling computers. I give the impression of Kurt being a wacky evangelical, but aside from this one occurrence he really did keep it separate from work.
jamesq: (genius)
Basically, say anything against a religion that enough followers are offended by and you'll get fined. This is a problem because people can be offended by literally anything.
"I don't believe in your religion."
"That offends me. Pay me €25K."
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ladyerwyn for the heads-up.
jamesq: (Default)
Note: You do not have a right to not be offended.

Fess Up

Feb. 18th, 2009 05:35 pm
jamesq: (Default)
Which one of you clowns put me on the American Family Association mailing list? I suppose they could just be spamming the members of [livejournal.com profile] dark_christian. Normally I'd find it funny and ironic, but I'm still trying to catch up on my writing.
jamesq: (Default)
So I had a weird little thought just now. Definitely politically incorrect.

Suppose you're an Islamic terrorist/scientist. You've built an atomic bomb to blow up some infidels. Being time-pressed and not particularly caring about your own personal well-being, you didn't do anything to protect yourself from exposure to toxic and/or radioactive materials. Now you're dying.

Assuming your view of God and the afterlife are correct, do you get to go to martyr's paradise (which resembles a weekend at Hugh Hefner's mansion, only with virgins instead of Playboy bunnies - and personally I'd rather have the non-virgins) even if you didn't push the button yourself?

At what point does this reward kick in? Do you have to die in the act? Does it matter if you die immediately due to something obviously connected like radiation sickness? How about if get leukemia ten years down the road?

Or maybe I'm focusing on the wrong part. Maybe Allah is like MacArthur - the point is not to die for your country but to make the other guys die for there's.
jamesq: (Leviticus)
I just saw Religulous. It was good, but could have been better.

I don't usually go in for movies that make fun of real people - I always hated Candid Camera and its ilk. I avoided seeing Borat for that reason. I may have to conclude that I'm a bad person though, because when it came time to see this treatment applied to people I don't like (as opposed to people I'm merely indifferent to), I was there, popcorn in hand.

There was a difference though. People were not tricked in this movie. Bill Maher is who he s and is quite upfront about his views. He wasn't Sasha Baron Cohen pretending to be a clueless foreigner. It wasn't Allen Funt setting people up with staged scenarios. The format was simple. Bill would interview people about religion, then try to apply logic to their views. Surprisingly, the Roman Catholics came across the best (Apparently there are Catholic Priests who take a surprisingly ecumenical view of the world, don't like hypocrisy even when it's in their own backyard, and understand that the Bible is not Science. Now if they could only get Benedict XVI to agree). For the most part he dished it out evenly to the major Abrahamic religions. Jews, Christians and Muslims all got a chance to make their beliefs look foolish. He took a few minutes to go after Mormons and Scientologists.

Mostly it was a matter of him pointing out that their beliefs were not supportable and if they applied their skepticism of other religions to their own, they'd realize that.

Here and there, Bill also reminisced about his personal beliefs and how they got there. His Mother and Sister joined in on some of this.

Where the movie breaks down I think is in its turn to the serious towards the end. For most of the movie it's pretty light-hearted. The very end however turns to why atheism is important, and why having a majority of people believing in make-beleive is a unhealthy for all of us.

Short version: If you expect your reward in the afterlife, and you think God is going to end the world, perhaps in our lifetime, you're not going to be making rational decisions in your long-term planning. Why make peace if it's god's will to come back and smite the unbelievers in the next ten years? Why engage in any sort of conservation if you believe God made the world for us and gave us enough resources to meet our needs?

A better movie would have kept coming back to this point over and over again throughout, mixed with the humour of the situation - sugar to the nasty (but necessary) medicine of the message.
jamesq: (Leviticus)
Reading Slacktivist today, I came across the best idea ever!

Rapture insurance.
We'll look after your pets in the event of the Rapture. How can you enjoy your time in heaven if you're worrying about Fido or Fluffy locked in a house that no one will ever go to again?
Make the whole thing good for a year and send them a certificate. You'd probably sell quite a few to people who enjoy the irony.

Sell ads in religious magazines and newspapers that are widely read in evangelical areas.

Tempting as this idea is, I'll go with my Pez Dispenser Vibrator Conversion Kit idea instead - I prefer making money by (indirectly) giving people pleasure, rather then by taking advantage of their gullibility.

--- edit ---

Looks like somebody beat me to it. C'est la vie.
jamesq: (Default)
All cultures invent myths to explain the mysteries of life. We are able to see the flaws in all of these theories, except for the one which we were taught. - Ra_
jamesq: (Default)
From a thread on Slacktivist which went way off the rails.
The more I think about this, the more annoyed I get. I don't know *any* atheists of the type described by you, and it's exactly this kind of straw-atheist building that gives atheists such a bad name. We are not crazy people out to get the religious, and we do not hate you. We are sane, mostly rational people who are baffled and annoyed by the completely unfounded beliefs of the otherwise intelligent people who surround us. I mean really, if you got off a plane and suddenly found yourself in a place where everyone thought that the Lord of the Rings was an accurate description of ancient earth, and they prayed to Gandalf asking him to bring back the elves, and every time you disagreed you were ignored, or taken to task for not respecting their beliefs, or told that Gandalf's teachings were the only source of morality and therefore it was necessary to follow them, or that belief in Gandalf didn't really hurt anyone so worry about whether there's any evidence, and so on, well, it wouldn't take you long to start tearing your hair and screaming "YOU PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!!!" And it wouldn't be because you disliked the Ringsians or thought they stupid. It would be a natural reaction to a totally baffling and senseless situation. And that's what it's like to be an atheist. At least for me.
In completely unrelated news, I've discovered an Avril Lavigne song that I actually like. A lot. I think it's because she actually sings in it, rather then just talks over the instruments.

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