More Sexism and Anti-Feminism in the Atheist Community

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I was on JT Eberhard‘s page today. He posted a nice shout out to Seth Andrews and Matt Dillahunty, and got a few pleasant and fun responses from there. Then entered Drakulian Rathburn, who has a lot of mutual friends as myself in the atheist community, with a strangely combative comment for the thread.

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So, I asked the obvious question. How, exactly, was A+ designed to cause division? That led to quote a bit foot stomping and refusing to support his claims, while of course making more and more claims without basis.

It didn’t take long, however, for him to bring feminism into the mix.

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He bounced away from the topic for a minute, but after being pushed further for evidence, he went straight into feminism with a fury. The level of ignorance was amazing to watch.

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Then he must have finally gotten really upset with being asked to actually prove his assertions, so he just went for it, damn the consequences.

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It was at this point that he blocked me. But it didn’t end there! He has a friend!

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So, where should I start? The problems here are too many to count.

First, if you claim to be a rational, thinking person, and you refuse to uphold the burden of proof, and make more claims instead of providing evidence for claims you’ve made, then you’re lying; you are NOT a rational, thinking person. You’re an ideologue.

Second, Feminism does not promote the superiority of anyone. It promotes equality. If you don’t know at least that about Feminism, then you haven’t studied enough to even talk about the subject.

Third, something like a “safe space” created for women to not feel subjugated or harassed isn’t created for the benefit of men. It shouldn’t be created for the benefit of men. If you’re biggest argument against a safe space for women is that it doesn’t benefit men…you are the problem.

Fourth, if you’re arguing about Feminism and you start calling women “twats” or other derogatory terms, you lose any credibility in the discussion. You’re a misogynist who has nothing to add to any meaningful discourse.

Finally, if you want to debate someone, and you open the conversation by insulting them, you’re a spiteful toddler who shouldn’t be allowed in public unsupervised.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

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An atheist that Believes

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That’s right, folks. You read it correctly. More to the point, a recent CNN article “Meet the Atheist … who believes in God” was published on 6/10/14.

 

Meet Frank Schaeffer and his opinion piece to CNN.  Mr. Schaeffer has written one of the most vocabulary challenged articles on the subject of belief and non-belief that I have seen in quite some time.

 

Let’s have an excerpt from the first twelve sentences:

 

“All the public debates between celebrity atheists and evangelical pastors are as meaningless as literary awards and Oscar night. They are meaningless because participants lack the objectivity to admit that our beliefs have less to do with facts than with our personal needs and cultural backgrounds.

The words we use to label ourselves are just as empty. What exactly is a “believer?”. And for that matter what is an “atheist?” 

Who is the objective observer to define these terms. Maybe we need a new category other than theism, atheism or agnosticism that takes paradox and unknowing into account.Take me, I am an atheist who believes in God.

Let me explain. I believe that life evolved by natural selection. I believe that evolutionary psychology explains away altruism and debunks love, and that brain chemistry undermines the illusion of free will and personhood. I also believe that a spiritual reality hovering over, in and through me calls me to love, trust and hear the voice of my creator.”

Mr. Schaeffer says that we need a new term that describes a person that doesn’t have a belief in a day to day, in your face, fire and brimstone, old testament god. But, this same person might also believe that there is a being behind the scenes. One that brought about the beginning of everything, but then decided to step back and just let things develop as they may . The question to the answer of 42 of Douglas Adams’ fame, if you will. Interesting and provocative argument for the academics to sit down and debate about a new term for this new and exciting concept that you have come across.

 

Of course, if you have made it to this point, you probably know exactly where I am going with this all. But in the interest of those that may have just stumbled across this post in your meanderings around the interwebz, there just so happens that there IS a term for people that believe as Mr. Schaeffer does: deism

 

Deism is: “not a specific religion but rather a particular perspective on the nature of God. Deists believe that a creator god does exist, but that after the motions of the universe were set in place he retreated, having no further interaction with the created universe or the beings within it. As such, there are a variety of common religious beliefs that deists do not accept.

 

As another bit of icing on the cake, Mr. Frank Schaeffer asked us to consider apophatic theology. Apophatic theology is an attempt to describe God by what cannot be said of Him. Many of the terms used to describe God’s attributes have within them an apophatic quality. For example, when we say God is infinite, we’re also saying is that God is not finite (i.e., not limited).” As Dr. Evil would say….”rrriight”. For those of you that having a working knowledge of logical fallacies, you may recognize the tautology inherent to that notion. For those a little less geeky about logical fallacies, a tautology (in formal logic) refers to a statement that must be true in every interpretation by its very construction. By defining God by what God is not, you can always arrive at the conclusion that you want to come to. Also, I find it highly dishonest by calling apophatic theology just “the theology of not knowing”. By being that ambiguous, the lay reader can all to easily draw a correlation between apophaticism and agnosticism. Although I cannot be 100% of Schaeffer’s motivation to word that as it is, but it smacks of an attempt to blur the lines between the two.

Here is one of Schaeffer’s claims that I found truly insulting:

“If you want to be sure you have “the truth” about yourself and our universe, then prepare to go mad. Or prepare to turn off your brain and cling to some form or other of fundamentalism, whether religious or secular.” As Tim Minchin put so amusingly in his song Storm:

“You’re so sure of your position
But you’re just closed-minded
I think you’ll find
Your faith in Science and Tests
Is just as blind
As the faith of any fundamentalist.

“Wow, thats a good point, let me think for a bit”
Oh wait, my mistake, its absolute bullshit.
Science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.”

Exactly. Absolute bullshit. I no more cling to anything in the secular world than I would to a deity. Nothing is truly beyond reproach. All it takes to change the mind of a skeptic is empirical data proving otherwise. A caveat though: the more fundamental the thing that is being questioned is, the greater the evidence must be. Pass that? Again, nothing is truly sacred to the skeptical atheist

And, at last, we come to the very LAST sentence in the article:

“You—like some sort of quantum mechanicals physics experiment—will always be in two places at once.”

Ahhhh, to bask in the glory of the bane of every religious or pseudo-scientific practitioner, quantum mechanics. If you are not one of the few theoretical physicists that have dedicated their professional lives to pulling apart that Gordian Knot, the instant you utter “quantum mechanics” in defense of or analogy TO your claim, I dismiss everything you have previously said and will be not be truly listening to anything that you will be saying.

Contributor: Jonathan Tindell

A native Floridian living in Pennsylvania, eight year veteran of the United States Maine Corp that is in support of responsible gun control, and salesperson in the Oil and Gas industry that believes in climate change, Jonathan is almost the definition of a dichotomy.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

 

Sunday Best

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One only need to go to the store, a restaurant, or simply out driving, on a Sunday to be able to aptly refute the concept that being religious makes someone somehow a good person. I spent some time out today, and it really illustrated this fact better than I ever could with words alone.

In the course of about two hours, I encountered hundreds of people dressed in their Sunday Best. Now, these aren’t their formal wear, for weddings or funerals. There’s a palpable difference in clothing between that and what someone sets aside purely for the purpose of that Sunday ritual called church. They’re sporting crosses and Jesus t-shirts and all the trappings of being deluded by the divine.

And they are MEAN.

They would cut me off and scream at me from their car, in front of their children, also dressed for church. They play bumper carts in stores, because they have to get done fast, and nobody better get in their way! At a buffet, someone even nearly knocked my food out of my hand, so they could get to their table a second or two faster by cutting me off.

I heard profanity, vitriol, yelling at children, yelling at each other. It brought back distinct memories of the days, long ago, when I attended church myself.

This may be an anecdotal rant, but I’m sure many of you are sporting a knowing grin as you read, because you see it too.

As a non-believer, and a Humanist, I strive everyday to treat people with respect, and love an ethical and morally sound life, focusing on the human well being of those around me. My “Sunday Best” has nothing to do with clothing, or miming some words in some building with a cross. My “Sunday Best” is my everyday best.

Those who are Humanists and read this know what I mean. Those are religious and read this, consider the above words the next time you put on your “Sunday Best” and head off to church. Your religious fervor doesn’t make you a good person. Your actions do.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Activism and Our Personal Status Quo

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Activism…this is something that most Americans pursue in some form or another, regardless of beliefs or political affiliation. It can take the form of traditional activism, charity work, or even humanitarianism. There are several steps to activism that we need to understand before we can discuss the problems.

1. Awareness – You’re aware of the issue, and maybe willing to discuss it.

2. Action – Here you may donate money, attend a protest, write about the issue, or support larger organizations that work for the issue.

3. Actual change – This is where you’ve left your comfort zone and pushed for real change in the world around you.

The majority of people don’t go beyond awareness. They’ll talk about an issue and belief strongly about it, so long as it doesn’t cost them any money or time. A good example of this are the people believe they are saving the environment by recycling, while they drive their SUV and eat fast food.

The second section, action, is where the majority of actual activists stop. They will donate money, they’ll write, they’ll protest, so long as it doesn’t affect their way of life. Now, this is important. Let’s consider a few examples.

Bill Gates donates huge amounts of money to various causes, which is great, and people see it as great. The problem is that Bill Gates could single handedly eliminate poverty in many impoverished nations, or even in America, but it would require his lifestyle to change. It would require him not to be nearly as rich anymore. That’s why it will likely never happen.

Many of your average white left wing activists will speak out, protest, and fund initiatives that say that minorities should have more opportunities and not have to live in poverty for the crime of the color of their skin…so long as they aren’t moving into their own neighborhoods, or working at their own companies.

Many right wing activists insist that we don’t need government run social programs because tending to the poor is the domain of the church. How many of them do you see trying to unite the religious organizations and denominations in a concerted effort to eliminate poverty in America? The churches combined wealth could do so ten times over, but it would require changing how they live, and doing away with some of the luxuries they have.

We see this often in the public discourse, as well. You can call out people with opposing views all day long and get cheers from your side of the political or religious or whatever ideological aisle. The moment you call out one of your own to hold them accountable, however, the crowd turns on you in a heartbeat, because it messes with the status quo.

Now, consider this while we talk about the third step, actual change.

If we want change to happen, we need to make it happen, and we need to be willing to throw away the status quo to do it. The point of activist should be to break the status quo, not to appear righteous while unwilling to give anything up. Think about that next time you share a Facebook post, donate to a charity, or hold a sign somewhere. Think about when you go and buy that new iPad after walking past the homeless man begging outside the store.

Just think about it.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Apologetics Quick Resource Guide

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There’s sometimes a challenge with finding the right resources to study apologetics or counter apologetics. I hope this quick resource guild will help anyone who’s interested in studying further.

In the early Christian church, when the first apologies were beginning to be written by the more educated people that were being converted to Christianity, there were many very well thought out apologies, because these people were truly defending their faith, and contending with the many scribal changes, errors, and discrepancies in the texts.

Today, they’re split into two styles that I’ve been able to figure out. There are the very honest, true believer types of apoligists. These would include things by Alvin Plantinga, Ray Comfort, or C.S. Lewis. While Comfort may not be good at it, he’s friendly and honest to a fault. Lewis had a mastery of the langauge. Plantinga is a master logician.

The other style is that of William Lane Craig or Answers in Genesis. These are are the more dishonest apologies. They rely more on Sophist tactics of out arguing someone to win the debate, rather than making a logical argument, or even a good theological argument. The tactics are far more dishonest than most. Having debated many of Craig’s students, believe me, it’s like trying to herd cats…that are dead.

 

Some good sites to use for apologies are

http://www.closertotruth.com/

http://www.answersingenesis.org/

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=1887#.UztRbvldWa8

 

Counter-apologetics have two real types as well.

The first is the type you see from The Atheist Experience, people like Matt Dillahunty, or Christopher Hitchens. These are very in your face, hard nosed counters. They’re accurate and effective, but won’t win friends easily.

The newer school of thought comes from Peter Boghossian and John Loftus. These are very close to the friendly, I’m here to help you style that Christian evangelists use.

 

Resources here are:

http://www.atheist-experience.com/

http://www.streetepistemology.com/

http://www.hitchenszone.com/hitchens_vs_true_believers.html

 

One of the harder to research topics, of course, will be Islam. You may see this from time to time, though, so I have some resources.

 

For Islamic apologetics:

http://carm.org/islam

http://www.apologeticsindex.org/605-islam

 

There are a couple good places for Christian counter apologetics to Islamic arguments, which is an interesting dynamic.

 

http://www.answering-islam.org/

http://www.probe.org/site/c.fdKEIMNsEoG/b.5216329/k.FD6A/Christianity_Is_Getting_Creamed_by_Islam_Apologetics.htm

 

And there really isn’t much from the Atheist side in counter apologetics here. I think this is because a large portion of the Atheist community tends to be liberally aligned politically, and people still have trouble separating criticizing a belief with being ethnocentric.

 

The best I have here is Sam Harris or Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/category/islam

http://theahafoundation.org/

 

Also, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s controversial video, Submission, is pretty powerful for counter apologetics.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGtQvGGY4S4

 

I hope this helps. Let me know if there’s anything more I can do, or questions I can help with. You can always email me at the address below.

 

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Michele Bachmann Supports Evolution Education!

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Michele Bachmann announced today, after a 2 day fast and communion retreat with God, that evolution is the accurate depiction of how God created life on earth.

In an interview with Fox News, Bachmann states “God revealed to me the fallacy of the young earth model. He created the earth with all the laws of nature intact, including evolution. So yes, I will fully support evolution education in our schools moving foreword.”

Her supporters, however, are skeptical. In one interview, a young christian explained, “I don’t care WHATs he says now, something evil must be influencing our leader! She can’t turn her back on us now!”

Well, there you have it…Michele Bachmann has been called by her flock to either support their ignorance or she loses them.
And here at Rationality Unleashed!, I hope you’re all enjoying this April Fool’s Day. Have a good one.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Mohammad Gad and Sexual Harassment in the Secular Community

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Mohammad Gad is someone who is active across the secular and skeptic online forums. He counts among his friends many in those communities. His Facebook friends list even includes those such as Richard Carrier and Susan Gerbic, as well as many, many others who would never abide by his behavior.

Today, he made a comment on the picture of a friend of mine’s 2 year old daughter that he would like to “eat her out.” This comes in the wake of a long history of overtly sexual and harassing remarks towards women on the various forums. This behavior should NOT be tolerated. I urge you to report his profile for harassment.

This was a horrible remark, and something we honestly rarely see. Few people tend to take things to that level. The systemic problem, however, is that we rarely speak out until it reaches that level. The level of overt harassment and sexism within the atheist and skeptic communities is overwhelming at times. NEVER should it take a comment that obscene for people to speak out. Given Mohammad’s history, he should have been called on the carpet and ousted long ago.

Why aren’t more working to solve the problem before it goes this far?

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.