Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday Evening Ramblings

Right now is a dangerous time.  I’ve had a lot of thoughts flying about my head lately that haven’t exactly come to roost.  I feel like writing.  But I have no particular thing I feel like writing about.

This means it’s time for an odd, disjointed post.  Hooray!


I wandered across a post this morning over at Atheist Revolution entitled “Understanding Apathetic Atheists.”  The, uh, the title is pretty damn self-explanatory of the purpose of the post.  But, in general, the point was to basically berate those of us non-theists who aren’t active.  Y’know, for atheism.

Now, the overall argument that we shouldn’t let moronic fundamentalists walk all over us is good.  But, then, I would have been against the Texas School Board of Education’s travesty of a history and science curriculum before I left the church.  I was pro-choice before I left the church, too.  I also had absolutely nothing against gays and would have been fine allowing them to marry each other to their hearts’ content.

Oh, I was also strongly in favor of separation of church and state long before I was pro-choice or fine with the idea of gay marriage.  In fact, the latter two ideas grew out of the former.

Let’s consider my motivation.  I see the science and history stuff as a matter of accuracy.  Science says A.  Ergo, we should teach A in school.  Same thing with history.  To do otherwise is utter foolishness and a dangerous road to travel.  You don’t see anyone seriously suggesting we teach that the world is flat or that pi is exactly 3 just because you can find that in the Bible.

Similarly, I don’t see where the government should limit abortion or the ability of two consenting adults to get married.  I especially don’t see it when the bald-faced justifications of the people in favor of making those things illegal is religious.  Making something illegal just because it’s against someone’s religion is a violation of the First Amendment.  Period.  Full stop.

I realized at some point in my life that Christians can’t unilaterally declare something illegal just because they don’t like it.  I didn’t need to leave the church to see that.  I’m pro-choice.  I’m pro-gay marriage.  I’m anti-TxSBoE.  But I don’t hold any of these positions because I don’t believe in god.

Moreover, I would never argue that someone should agree with me just because they’re an atheist.  That’s stupid.  Being an atheist doesn’t make anybody an authority on anything.  If Richard Dawkins walked up to me tomorrow and said that the moon is made of green cheese I’d respond with, “Yeah, prove it.”  If PZ Myers walked in to my living room right now and told me my couch was on fire and I should believe him without looking down because he’s an atheist and that means he’s right I’d take a look before standing up.

Either way, they put up this handy-dandy list:

1. Learned helplessness: I've tried, and it is futile. Nothing I do seems to make a difference.
2. Safety: Taking some sort of action would mean "coming out" as an atheist, and that isn't safe for me.
3. Insufficient information: I'd like to help, but I honestly don't know what to do.
4. Low relevance: It isn't personally relevant or I've got more important things to worry about.
5. Identity: Taking action to promote atheism sounds like something religious people would do, and I don't want to be anything like them.

To that I’d like to add a sixth:

Fuck you and stop telling me what to do.  I’m going to be as disinterested as I want to be.  And if you think I’ll change because you’ll shame me in to being active…well, I got that in church for 25 years…


Similarly, Ken Pulliam’s latest post elicited this comment from someone named James:

Maybe the atheist equivalent of apologetics (has it a name I don't know?) should address this I think not uncommon assumption, and (a) set out the case against theistic ethics (Euthyphro, Old Testament horrors), (b) set out the case for a creditable and respectable non-theistic ethics (e.g. Pullian's intuitionism, Luke's desirism), and (c) set out the case for a non-transcendent but more than satisfactory meaning of life not endorsed by God.

My response was a long way around saying, “Atheism can’t do that.”  Atheism just says, “There is no god that I can find any evidence for.”  This is not an ethical framework, this is an observation.


So I guess I’m an apathetic atheist.  I’ll take it.

Honestly, to me all atheism means is that I don’t go to church on Sundays.  It also means that I don’t feel guilt for it.  And it means that I don’t have any particular belief that you must be religious to be good.  Any other desire to be active in any endeavor comes out of a belief in a particular position.  The interesting thing is that I held the vast majority of the positions I held now before I left Christianity.

So I guess that means you don’t have to be an atheist to hold any number of atheist-friendly positions.

Gee…wonder how that’s going to go over…


I have a question for people who have spent time in Dallas:  What are the giant red wasp thingies?

Oh, and as a follow-up: what the fuck was a giant red wasp doing in my bedroom when I got home from work tonight?

Seriously, the thing must have had a two-inch wingspan.  And I’m not the sort of guy who usually gets too worked up about killing bugs, but I hit that fucker with a broom.  Like, a dozen times.  I think I only managed to stun it.

Either way, seriously.  GIANT.  FUCKING.  WASPS.


Right after I moved I spent a bunch of time bitching about personality tests administered by HR people.  The worst one of those I ever took was also the first one.  I was doing an internship at my church and they gave me a spiritual gifts inventory to take.

So, basically, I took this test and it told me what spiritual gifts I had and, crucially, which ones I didn’t.  As I recall, the point was to figure out what Jesus had made me good at and what Jesus had been all, “Nah, dude, don’t worry about that shit, man,” about.

Of course if you know Jesus he’s all about half-assing it through life.  So this is a perfectly valid use of the various Biblical lists of what we should be if we’re proper and good Christians.

Either way, as I recall, I did well on the teachin’ and the preachin’ type stuff.  I did poorly on the hospitality type stuff.

One of my stated goals, now that I live on my own and all, is that there’s always room in mi casa for someone who needs a place to crash.  Y’know, for a night or two.  Ain’t nobody moving in all permanent-like.

Since I’ve moved to Dallas I’ve had an Irish rock band crash in my living room and a Peacemakers’ fan stay in my guest bedroom.

So I guess it’s good that my fruit of the spirit didn’t involve hospitality, then.  Maybe I had to leave Christianity to get the Holy Spirit to say, “Okay, you got this now…"


I upgraded the ol' iBomination to OS 4.0 today.

Here's what I love about 4.0: you can always see the wallpaper.  I've had the same phone wallpaper for four years now, ever since the first time I saw RCPM at Joe's on Weed Street and took this picture with my very first camera phone (1.3 whole megapixels!):

There was really no point in which I could see it on the Tilt, since the menu covered half the pic.


I'm apparently getting a spot at a VIP table for the Austin show at Antone's on Friday.  In a word: giggity.






The Everlasting Dave said...

Out. Fucking standing. I'm right on board with the 'passive atheism' bit, and I'm just an agnostic. Then again, anything I would consider a deity is something rife with sin and such. So there's that. I probably haven't said this since the last time you showed up in my mom's basement with a six-pack of something good, but you, Geds, are a king among men.

And if the wasps get you, I'll find a way to avenge you. It may be abstract and not involve wasps at all, but fuck it, it's something.

Fake Al Gore said...

Those giant fucking wasps are probably paper wasps (also known as red wasps). They're vicious little fuckers, but generally leave you alone.

Please stay well away from any yellow jacket nests you see. They are very aggressive.

The good news is that we have some amazingly awesome spiders here including the beautiful garden spider that likes to eat wasps.

vjack said...

The point of my post was not even remotely "to basically berate those of us non-theists who aren’t active." Seems like you are determined to be angry over an incorrect understanding, and that's your right. But the post wasn't designed to berate anyone or to tell anyone what to do.