unbibium: (Default)
So last night one of the episodes of Bullshit I aired was "The Bible: Fact or Fiction", in which is asserted that the Bible contains "equal amounts of facts, history, and pizza." I was a bit curious how [livejournal.com profile] tamtrible would respond, as she identifies as Christian, and at the same time believes strongly in science. I wasn't so sure about the beliefs of everyone else in the room, but the discussion that ensued was likely to be interesting at least.

Kalin and I were the only people in the room that were avowed atheists. Trible and Larry seem to be a bit more pantheistic, and Georgia wasn't particularly outspoken. I wouldn't presume to describe what they said accurately; as I'm only certain of a few details. With Trible, I know that she won't dismiss the claim that a Hebrew man rose from the dead, but she does dismiss that this Hebrew man had a monopoly on that kind of thing. Larry invoked nine-dimensional mathematics for a reason I couldn't fathom, and turns out to be an ordained minister who performed marriages. In both cases, it seemed apparent that one of the points where they disagreed with the Judeo-Christian story was that it's too provincial in nature.

This seems to be a trend in theists that avoids the most important pitfalls that are created by religious thinking, such as the denial of science, cultural insulation, and automatic credulity for religion-based authority. Such people are free to believe and learn from Darwin's theory of natural selection, they are able to relate to people and ideas outside of their own tribe, and they won't be protesting funerals or flying planes into buildings.

It seems that everyone in the room disagrees with ASU mall preachers, and agrees with Darwin. Beyond this, I consider it a minor detail whether they accept or reject the idea of God.

(edited to correct some small mistakes with large semantic effects)


Mar. 6th, 2008 11:14 pm
unbibium: (Default)
I listened to Dawkins tonight. Most of his talk was derived from The God Delusion, which I'd already read, so my mind wasn't blown as much as I thought it would be. There was a large video screen behind him, and I spent a lot of time thinking up what picture would be funniest to bring up. And there was closed captioning on another video screen, and the captioner had trouble spelling "Anglican" and probably some other words, to the audible amusement of the audience.

Q&A was my favorite part, as Dawkins is excellent in debate, though as a scientist he has the luxury of conceding the giant swaths of questions for which he is not qualified to answer. He wouldn't comment much on the nature of far Eastern religions, except to say that he was hoping a British law that funded only monotheistic organizations would be challenged by a polytheistic hindu organization. And when someone asked him how he might win a receptive Mormon friend to atheism, he admitted that diplomacy was not his bag. There was also one guy who didn't have so much a question as a five-minute ramble. Three minutes into it, the audience started murmuring, and four minutes in, when he got to the "Matrix-like simulation" part, people started laughing out loud. Dawkins said he would accept it as a comment instead of answering it, recognizing a tough act to follow when he saw one.

Unlike Lynchburg, there wasn't a long line of fundamentalist plants asking questions. There were a few pro-religion questions, and they were answered. Near the end of the lecture, Dawkins defended an accusation that religion's connection with terrorism was the same as atheism's connection with fascism. One person challenged that defense, and asked if there was any statistical comparison between atheists and believers in how likely they were to become criminals, terrorists, and so on. The questioner also asserted that religious people were more likely to be charitable, let people cut in line, etc, though who knows what his source is on that. Dawkins said he didn't have statistics on hand, and his only point was that religion provides certain cause-effect relationships that atheism does not. And he added that he'd like to see some good statistical studies, such as of the religious makeup of people in prisons.

Big duh moment of the evening: I didn't bring a book for him to sign.
unbibium: (Default)
Via SomethingAwful:
Dear Anonymous Atheist Complaint Box,

Hey man, totally on board for this atheism deal, but I used to go to church to get babes. Total freaks. Now I'm going to these atheism meetings and they are a total sausage fest to put it mildly. The one woman there is like 50 and smells like cigarette smoke and cat pee. Can I get a transfer to another atheist group or something?
Now, it's not like the atheist group I meet at Fuddrucker's every month is quite that bad. There are women who attend, and some of them may even be single, but the odds are not good. For all our talk about how atheism today is treated like homosexuality was in decades of yore, atheism faces a problem that homosexuality never has: it's just not sexy enough. The old adage about the preacher's daughter being a meta-freak, has a sad corollary on the opposite end of the religious spectrum.
unbibium: (Default)
Jerry Falwell dead? Shrug.

You know what death I'm really looking forward to? Fred Phelps, the guy who protests soldiers' funerals because the country they're defending doesn't behead our homosexuals.

I bet he's going to have to have his funeral in secret, because a lot of people already have their signs printed.
unbibium: (Default)
God, I'd like to file a bug report.

It's easy to see how other atheists don't slip into total nihilism. For example, I'm at the airport, enjoying free WiFi, and using a $79 device smaller than a cigarette lighter, in order to listen to parts of a time-delayed radio show that aired 6am this morning. And I also have the power to see a webcomic, and post it where all my friends can see it. And they will see it if they're sufficiently bored at work for a few minutes. The average American life is full of conveniences like these.

It's also easy to see why I'm so fixated on the opposite of these. Because the radio show I'm listening to is the Adam Carolla show, and he's currently complaining about the chicken-shit tickets they give out in California. If you don't have a front license plate, they give you a ticket, and if you have one, you get photo tickets in the mail if you squeak past a yellow light a little too late. This is something that literally never affects me, being that I live in Arizona and don't drive, but I'm sympathetically pissed off. So I have to find stuff in my life that sucks in order to justify that.

This is why I wish Penn's radio show was still on, because that man has the opposite effect. He has a love for life I don't see in many people, even people with careers as successful as his. That's what I need rubbing off onto my psyche every day.


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