Even in the atheist community that prides itself on intellectualism, we often speak for and even instead of Muslims and Ex-Muslims. We have a listening problem. Sadaf Ali, who helped found Ex-Muslims of North America, nails it…
Even in the atheist community that prides itself on intellectualism, we often speak for and even instead of Muslims and Ex-Muslims. We have a listening problem. Sadaf Ali, who helped found Ex-Muslims of North America, nails it…
Although, some of the audience wasn’t sure what to expect, The Secular Asian Community panel was well received. It is now posted on youtube. Despite large numbers of Asians in Asia and non-Asian countries, we have yet to see an offline conference that addressed Asian issues both South and East Asian. So we took the opportunity that FTBCon offered us to take the initiative, and add our voices to the freethought community.
We were missing some of our past South Asian panelists like Hemant Mehta, Heina Dadabhoy, Razib Khan because of schedule conflicts. We still had a diverse contribution from panelists with East Asian heritage. We had the ebullient Yau Man Chan, organizer extraordinaire Vic Wang, the warm-hearted Marissa Torres Langseth, the erudite Michael Nam, and science educator Cindy Cooper.
The talk ranged from how Asia is not a country and other offputting stereotyping to downright racism, successes in the freethought community, where it is missing the mark, Asian privilege, and how to maintain a secular country with China set to become the largest Christian country as a model.
So now you know who to ask on Asian diversity issues.
Also you can still catch these discussions today before it wraps up at 7:00 PM CST:
When I first started studying for the Texas Social Studies Textbook hearings last week to testify with Aron on Tuesday, I expected to find the most egregious historical misrepresentations by non-mainstream publishers like Worldview Software. And of course they didn’t fail to disappoint. Here is a quote from a Texas Freedom Network briefing to give you the flavor of the worldview they are promoting…
“The spread of international terrorism is an
outgrowth of Islamic fundamentalism which opposes Western
political and cultural influences and Western ideology.”
Is that a fact? Are Islamic fundamentalists the only terrorists? Just in case you aren’t sure whether this publisher is being incidentally bigoted, their worldview on the origin of the inhabitants of Africa is straight out of 19th Century racist theories. I quote from here on out from the Washington Post‘s article on the hearing.
WorldView Software – World History A: Early Civilizations to the Mid-1800s
The text states: “South of the Sahara Desert most of the people before the Age of Explorations were black Africans of the Negro race.”
Elsewhere, the text states: “The first known inhabitants of Africa north of the Sahara in prehistory were Caucasoid Hamitic people of uncertain origin.”
“Hamitic” pseudo-scientific theories of the origins of Africans originated in the 19th century’s attempt to explain white supremacist assumptions. They believed that Northern Africans like Egyptians originated from the Biblical story of Noah’s cursed son Ham. They thought that the “Negroid” race as they called it was incapable of building civilizations such as Egypt. They sought to misappropriate their accomplishments to “Caucasoids” such as themselves.
As a teacher, I know that non-mainstream publishers don’t normally make their way into classrooms. No matter how much a crank publisher matches the ideas the right wing ideologues on the State Board of Education want to promote. So at first I wasn’t as worried.
Now that I have reviewed more of what is being published, it is worse than I thought. I am genuinely surprised and disappointed. Even mainstream publishers already on the bookshelves in many Texas classrooms are submitting new texts for adoption that revise history in such a way to emphasize Judeo-Christian influence over the Enlightenment secular ideals that our government is founded on.
McGraw-Hill School Education – United States Government
Text mentions Moses and claims that the “biblical idea of a
covenant, an ancient Jewish term meaning a special kind of
agreement between the people and God, influenced the formation of colonial governments and contributed to our constitutional structure.”
Let me get this straight our government is based on the covenant god gave to Moses in The Torah? The one most American’s break when they have pork ribs at Chili’s or shellfish at Red Lobster? We’re all going to Hell then for breaking the covenant kiddos!
But wait there is more, I feel like a sadist for the face-palming that results from reading quotes from proposed history books in 2014! Just a little break here to make you feel better.
Join Texas Freedom Networks “Just Educate!” campaign to reform the Texas Board of Education.
Sign TFN’s petition for accurate textbooks.
Vote for reality based education in the school board. Voter’s Guide
Are you ready for more totally serious inanity from our national publishers?
This publisher goes even further than Biblical times with revising out the Enlightenment…
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – United States Government: Principles in Practice
Text has a section on “Judeo-Christian Influences” that reads: “The Framers’ political thinking was influenced by a Judeo-Christian religious heritage, which includes traditions common to both Judaism and Christianity. These religions see the law and individual rights as being of divine origin. Moreover, the Framers benefited from the Protestant Reformation, a sixteenth-century Christian reform movement whose leaders developed ideas about individual responsibility, the freedom to worship as one chooses, and self-government.”
Cuz yeah Protestant settlers like the Puritans were all about the “freedom to worship as one chooses”. As long as you agreed with them, and conformed to their ideas of how to worship. If you were a Quaker though, not so much! Quakers were banished, branded, and had their ears cropped.
But what about separation of church and state you say? According to this national publisher…
McGraw-Hill School Education – United States Government
The text states: “Thomas Jefferson once referred to the establishment clause as a ‘wall of separation between church and state.’ That phrase is not used in the Constitution, however.’”
Fixed your wagon didn’t they?
If you think it can’t get more ridiculous, I have barely scratched the surface of what these textbooks are counterfeiting as history. Read the entire Washington Post article if you have a high pain threshold.
I found this note on my car, after taking my children to the Asian part of town to eat.
We love Vietnamese food because of our family heritage. It turns out this is part of a Biblical verse…
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Judges 24:15
So somebody took time out of their day to to remind patrons at an Asian shopping center, that they aren’t to serve the gods of their ancestors. There are a few racist assumptions here.
I could go on here, because there is much ignorance displayed by this note, but I have already proven the point.
If I were to tell you that a purportedly secular anti-abortion group was engaging in the very same fear mongering and harassment of abortion providers that the largely Christian dominated pro-life groups do; would you be surprised? The True Pooka’s final report on Secular Pro-Life’s tactics is posted.
In addition to the other tactics Pooka documented, the group is promoting a campaign against abortion providers in the guise of concern for the safety of women. According to Pooka, in addition to making stuff up about the safety of abortion to women…
The site also doubles as an intimidation tool to be used against doctors. It doesn’t matter what type of doctor you are, if you’re a family health doctor and abortion consists of 1% of your medical activities, they’ll label you an ABORTION DOCTOR and list your name next to numerous other doctors who secularprolife have judged to be unsafe doctors ( judgment passed using their hard earned degrees in Looking Shit Up On-Line from Internet University).
I know there are people reading this who are not at all surprised by the sliminess. I hope that they haven’t also grown, so calloused by this group and other anti-abortion groups’ relentless assault on the right to choose whether a person gives birth, that these tactics are working.
However, I don’t think this group’s presence at atheist conferences, a group that misrepresents both science and the truth, can be totally explained by its relentless tactics wearing people down.
How did it get past the smell detector?
The group’s members have the appearance of fresh faced kids. Ex-Christians like myself or people with well meaning anti-abortion friends may be mistaking what they are doing with the mistakes we made as Christians. In my Christian past, I have actually given diapers and my daughter’s bassinet to a Christian pregnancy counseling center in hopes of helping women, who wanted to give birth and keep the child.
Looking back on it now, I was misguided. These groups main function is to guilt women with ultrasounds of their fetuses. I remember the tour, and the center’s pride that they had received an ultrasound.
Would you be surprised to learn that the Secular Pro-Life website directs people with crisis pregnancies to Christian counseling centers? This is the picture posted on their resources page…
The group’s defines its secular mission thusly…
Secularism. SPL seeks to increase the inclusiveness of the overall pro-life movement by creating space for pro-life atheists, agnostics, humanists, and other secularists.
I don’t think directing the atheists, agnostics, etc. to a Christian pregnancy center agrees with their purported mission to create a safe space for them. Particularly if they survived spiritual abuse.
This group is not simply misguided. A former member of theirs glibly showed all of us including children in the audience a video of abortions during a debate with Matt Dillahunty. She most definitely had the fresh faced, well meaning look down, even when she showed us the video without batting an eye. She also argued that abortion should be criminalized and prosecuted as murder. Matt’s recent debate with an SPL member showed the same callous lack of regard for women. The Christian debater argued that a woman shouldn’t be allowed to abort a pregnancy that would cripple her.
I don’t ever remember being that inhumane and judgmental at the height of my Christian years, and there is difference between some misguided person that you know or the pro-lifer you may have been and SPL.
As of this moment, Pooka and I plan on seeing them at The American Atheists Convention in Salt Lake City this weekend. We hope the information we provided helps people to make informed decisions. I can’t help picturing a Reed Warbler unwittingly nurturing an imposter Cuckoo chick.
It is often difficult and awkward to move disagreements forward to where they become productive in the insular, organized atheist community. Especially for a family that is as actively involved as the Ra family, because a lot of times we know and like and often respect the people involved on a personal level. And to make matters more awkward so do our other atheists friends. So basically, we all collectively cringed about Dave Silverman’s comment to conservatives about abortion rights, because we really like him and we respect his professional accomplishments in the secular realm. Of course, many of us were also chagrined because we are part of the super-progressive reproductive rights community. This is the comment for reference although you mostly likely already know what he said…
“I will admit there is a secular argument against abortion,” said Silverman. “You can’t deny that it’s there, and it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage.”
There have already been many criticisms from the fiercely, liberal secular types including PZ Myers, Sarah Moglia, Steve Ahlquist, Ophelia Benson, and Jason Thibeault. And too, there has been support for Silverman from no less liberal sources such as JT Eberhard and my personal friend, who I can testify is actually a ray of Secular Sunshine Shanon Nebo. Silverman clarified his comment on her blog.
I was talking to a lot of press this week – I mean a LOT of press, and most of it hostile. When I was talking to Raw Story I gave them the same pitch I’d given so many times before: Conservatism is basically divided into two parts, fiscal conservatism, which is real conservatism, and Social conservatism, which is Christian theocracy masquerading as conservatism, with the latter holding down the former. Is the fiscals dropped the Christian social bullshit, I said, real conservatism would benefit from the influx of conservative atheists who avoid the movement due to the theocratic aspects.
I said that all of the social conservative agenda was religious in nature, to which the reporter eagerly countered that there was a secular argument for abortion. He clearly knew he was right, and so did I – there is a secular argument (one with which I firmly disagree) whose existence I cannot deny.
Rather than take the road to discussing abortion, I acquiesced to his correct counterpoint, returned to my point, and said that school prayer, LGBT equality, and Death with dignity were better examples of purely Christian positions (“it’s maybe not as clean cut as school prayer, right to die, and gay marriage”), and we went on with the discussion on why American Atheists was there.
There’s my scandal. The rest of what you may have read is reckless “positing” by people who didn’t do what you did – ask me. Thank you for being responsible.
So there it is, Silverman says that even though he disagrees with secular anti-choice arguments, he couldn’t deny that they exist. As many of you already know there are secular arguments against gay marriage and euthanasia that are just as bad as the ones against a woman’s right to choose. You really don’t have to scratch too far beneath the surface of all of these supposedly secular arguments to smell the stink of repressive Christian culture.
In fact, I just did a presentation in February for the Secular Humanists of Southern California on how thinly veiled secular anti-choice arguments are. I don’t want to belabor the point but here is a photo from Secular Pro-life‘s website to just show you how they basically just spin religious arguments into secular ones.
I have seen this group tabling at atheist conventions. If the Discovery Institute were to table at an atheist convention with their supposedly secular arguments like aliens seeded life on this planet; it would be a sideshow. Yet secular arguments against a woman’s right to choose are not self evident to some of us that they don’t have some sort of merit. We scoff at canards like “Teach both sides of the controversy” and try to be more than fair to religious based arguments like the one in that poster.
I first became aware of Secular Pro-Life through the work of Godless Bitches Beth Presswood and her husband Matt Dillahunty. Matt debated one of their members at a Texas Freethought Convention.
In the debate, she had the audience sit through a graphic video of abortions.. Nobody in our community puts reproductive rights on the secular agenda more than Matt and Beth do.
And even though Silverman didn’t intend to be dismissive to all of us, who are fighting the Religious Right’s relentless efforts to deny access of a safe and legal abortion. Groups like Secular Pro-Life, that openly cooperate with and have members from the Religious Right, can rightly claim that he said there is a secular argument for their cause. One already has. (As Jason Thibeault predicted, so it has come to pass) I appreciate his clarification that they are bad arguments, but secular pro-choicers can’t catch a break especially here in the South. We need help and are just as under fire as science advocates are from creationists down here.
This is what really matters. It is now virtually impossible for rural Texans to get a safe and legal abortion here, because religious crackpots like Rick Perry run the government and have passed unnecessarily draconian restrictions on abortion clinics that only 6 clinics in Texas are currently up to speed on. Two more clinics have shut down just last week. How is passing more restrictions on clinics and on women’s reproductive choices fiscally conservative? Legislating the hell out of women’s uteruses and fighting tooth and nail regulations on guns and other businesses doesn’t make sense.
Most importantly, where are rural Texas women going to go when they have a crisis pregnancy when the nearest clinic is 6 hours way. And there will be more of those because Planned Parenthood clinics that provide access to contraception have been shut down by the Texas government too.
I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church where Planned Parenthood was stigmatized. As a young woman, who didn’t yet have the resource to raise a child, I avoided the Planned Parenthood clinic that was in walking distance from my apartment. I didn’t even own a car and walked or took the city bus everywhere. I still had more privileges than millions of rural women have right now.
I wound up raising a child as a single parent because poor women often have relationships with poor men and the economic stresses that go along with that. Most of the girls in my youth group had unplanned pregnancies due to the stigma of seeking contraception and impractical Christian advice about staying a virgin until you are married. In every state that advocates abstinence only sex education even though it is in a secular manner, the teen pregnancy rate is the highest. The funny thing is that advice is do as I say not as I do because 85 percent of evangelicals have sex before they are married. Our culture still has Christian hang ups about sex, and they are largely unnecessary due to low cost contraception, which would reduce the number of abortions.
Maybe reproductive rights is not a battle that American Atheists has the resources to fight like school prayer and the cross at the Ground Zero museum. However, religious-based regressive social policies including anti-choice are hurting millions of families nonetheless. And I think it has already been shown that if you advocate for women that more women will join your community. That is more volunteers and donors to help fight religious policies that restrict the freedom of women to choose what is best for their families not the government. Most certainly not pro-life groups of any stripe that don’t have to live with the consequences of another woman’s unplanned pregnancy. My hope is that Silverman will use the opportunity this has created to show strong support for reproductive rights and to denounce religious regressive policies.
[notice] If anyone reading this would like to help maintain access to a safe and legal abortion, especially for low income women please support The Lilith Fund and Planned Parenthood. I also will be talking about secular arguments for abortion to do my part on making pro-choice a more self evident secular position on The Magic Sandwich Show on March 23. I may see if I can enlist a fire breathing pro-choice friend too.[/notice]
Specifically why doesn’t anyone want to ally with us, even other secularists sometimes? We’re like red headed stepchildren; we can’t do anything right for a lot of people. We will also be discussing atheist vitriol to each other on The Nones . It is approaching toxic levels on the topic of feminism. Hayley wants to be a more vocal atheist, and she will be sharing her experiences growing up as an atheist in the Midwest. She ‘s an actress who appeared in The Ides of March. Shayrah, Aron, and myself are hardened atheists from living in atheist Hell here in the South. Flash and Sheila have the East Coast covered, but somehow they don’t sound as if they have the street cred in comparison. But they do! They are out there trying to organize atheists politically. Politics are the other fighting words with a lot of atheists. Flash is on the Executive Board of the National Atheist Party; soon to be the American Secular Party. Sheila blogs for NAP on Daily Kos also has the Feminatheist discussion group on Facebook. A lot of people know Tom Melchiorre, writer and editor of Secular Nation the voice of Atheist Alliance International. They brought us that lovely Atheist Census. Over 200,000 atheists have been counted; have you? Numbers Matter.
Anyways, I also wanted to thank everyone that supported the first 2 podcasts even though Shayrah and I are trying to figure out the technology thing. A lot of great atheists are supporting us by coming on the show. They are going to start messing with our mean image. Plus added on us pressure to not let them down.
*Update link to the video of the show…
“The average Christian can’t stand on a soapbox at a university and preach, but he or she can now engage the unsaved and have their comment read by multiple people, all from the comfort of their own home. It means that a stay-at-home mom can reach out to the lost during a break from the kids. It means that those who are busy at work can reach the unsaved during their lunch breaks.”
Here are a few nuggets from his page to tempt atheists to believe…
That which is considered by those who are anti-God to be hateful threats of torture, are loving warnings of justice.
He isn’t so much threatening you with eternal torture; he is simply lovingly warning you about justice. And just for fun another nugget…
Your casket isn’t the end. Think outside the box
So far, I am not convinced. May be other atheists just groan when they hear about Ray Comfort’s antics because they are passe. Have you ever groaned when he gets a nonbeliever on the street, and they can’t answer him especially when it is well known science?
Like Ryan the agnostic in this video…
Comfort starts off with the question, “Why do you believe in evolution.” Ryan flounders a bit about logic and finally adds that there is a similarity between chimp and human DNA. Comfort comes back with no that is actually evidence for a common designer, who used DNA to create life. Let’s be fair to Ryan, he is on the spot and Comfort is interrupting and shouting at him. Ryan still fumbles the ball though.
Let’s ask Aron…
This unsupported hypothetical magical designer put into our DNA genetic markers, dysfunctional genes, ERVs, sequential mutations indicating our ancestry with other apes and confirming our classification as primates?!
May be you are at a level where that is low hanging fruit for you too. Perhaps, you’ve run across a person who has been taken in by more advanced pseudoscience.
For a lot of evolution supporters there can be different reasons why you can’t answer pseudoscience swiftly and adeptly. You may know it sounds wrong but you can’t articulate why. Sort of like how I grew up around the Vietnamese language, but I speak barely any of it. So if someone jokingly makes fun of an Asian accent; they have a chance of getting a laugh. I can’t joke like that because it sounds wrong to me, because I’ve heard a genuine Asian accent. It just doesn’t sound right, but I can’t articulate why it is incorrect. Similarly, evolution supporters often want to defend evolution against annoying pseudoscience especially from family members and authorities, but can’t articulate why the pseudoscience isn’t correct science.
When it comes to evolution, we all have different starting points. Growing up in the South, I was almost completely ignorant of my own biological origins, when I met Aron in the Crevo forum of Christian Forums. I still have complete noob posts that embarrass me to this day. The point is everybody is at different levels, which is something you have to bear in mind when you try to convince people about evolution.
Anyways, Aron often gets emails from people, who are really interested in how to answer a question about evolution that is stumping them from a believer. Obviously, he can’t come in and debate everyone, and in a lot of cases the person is better off doing their own research because they will learn better what to say to people.
However this weekend, he has graciously in his own surly way agreed to give tips to people to help them be better defenders of anti-faith. You can post questions here on his blog or join us in a Google Hangout this Sunday at 12:00 PM. Event location: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cmgcc50rv9t5ae884sv3eh6286k
It will be my second podcast of the n0nes.
Send us your google hangout information to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to join in the discussion.
Back in the days of Usenet, one of the posters to Talk.Origins was a former creationist named Glenn Morton. He is the author of a meme, Morton’s Demon which explained the sort of confirmation bias at work in the religious mindset. This he had witnessed from within and without, and his story is an interesting one. His career as a petroleum geologist forced him to an epiphany -wherein undeniable facts persistently refuted erroneous beliefs required by his prior association with dogmatic propaganda groups like the Institute for Creation Research. During his slow transition from Young Earth Creationism to theistic evolution, there was a period where he was somehow able to understand how the earth was billions of years old Monday thru Friday, but he was still able to pretend it was only thousands of years old on weekends. Eventually his mutually-exclusive dichotomy came into focus as an inevitable consequence of overwhelming evidence.
Empirical rationalists like myself once turned to him as an inspiring example of intellectual honesty, illustrating the importance of evidential analysis over whatever fraudulent fantasies one might prefer to believe. My own perspective at that time was that it didn’t matter whether one believed in gods or spirits or fate; the important question was whether one would accept or reject evident truths that might challenge those beliefs. It seems I had underestimated the extent of cognizant detriment which religion still has even in a diminished state.
My own experience with Morton was deeply disappointing to say the least. At first he was open to share useful and interesting data with me in a very rational and intelligent manner, and I appreciated his time and knowledge very much. Then in 2005, I invited him and two other Christian scientists to moderate a debate between me and an ‘ex-Darwinist’ now claiming to teach the “strengths and weaknesses” of evolution. My opponent was busily courting certain members of the State Board of Education who had already become infamous for their rejection of science. So I invited a couple of the worst ones at that time to co-moderate our debate and see which side the science really backed. My opponent selected a 3rd moderator from another fundamentalist creationism ministry, a man who gave a face to the phrase, “bewildering inanity”. I balanced the equation with three professional scientists, a geneticist with the human genome project, a famous paleontologist involved with Jurassic Park, and of course Glenn Morton. All of these respected scientists were experts in their fields. My thought was that any false claim my opponent made would be immediately refuted by at least one of them. They were also each devout Christians, chosen in an attempt to keep the focus on the science, and not let our discussion degrade into theism vs atheism.
Sadly that attempt failed with my own selected moderators turning against me instantly. The geneticist dropped out at the onset when my opponent’s mod accused my chosen mods of not being ‘true’ Christians. The paleontologist (who was also a Pentecostal preacher) told me initially that creationists were simply ‘bigots’. Yet he ignored everything that was being said by either side, and instead used my forum -at my invitation- to soap-box his own bigotry against atheists.
Morton did the same -only worse. Turns out he hates atheists, HATES us simply because we are atheist -even though he was once very nearly atheist himself. That is until he found some way to rationalize his continued belief, -something I couldn’t do, and wouldn’t do as a matter of honor. How does Morton justify his unreasonable hatred of atheists? By accusing us of being bigoted. Theism seems to thrive on irony and projection.
So during our debate, he openly criticized me with complete contempt. I had the impression that he was negotiating support of my opponent behind the scenes, because Morton revealed that he didn’t care how accurate the claims of either side actually were. To Hell with education, facts be damned; he said he just didn’t want an atheist to win a debate against a Christian. That’s how little accuracy or honesty matter whenever they confront religious biases.
To prove my point, he has done it again. On my 50th birthday, (coincidentally) Glenn Morton deleted all his files from his own web-page. His explanation, ‘Why I left Young-Earth Creationism‘ is still available on other websites, but no longer on his own. His explanation for ‘Why I took my creation web pages down‘ is a disorienting decent into madness. In it there are many lines of cascading failure, including this gem:
“I watched the leftist party vote 3 times to drop God and Jerusalem and then watched their leaders steal that election on national TV and everyone knows that election was stolen.”
Sorry Glenn, but there is no ‘leftist party’. Many normally conservative registered Republicans voted Democratic this time either because they didn’t want to be associated with religious insanity, or because they didn’t want to be ruled by theocracy, or they voted for a host of other socially, environmentally, or financially conscious reasons that might have nothing to do with religion. Nobody, NOBODY voted to “drop God’ or Jerusalem. As for ‘stealing’ the election, according to Global Research, all the vote-stealing machines were owned by Republicans, if not by the Romneys specifically. So maybe we don’t all really ‘know’ what Morton obviously doesn’t know either.
Worst of all, he considers it acceptable to teach children alleged facts which we can all prove -and HE can prove- are certainly wrong. He says religion has a right to be wrong, and that means it’s OK to lie to children in the guise of ‘teaching’ them. He says creationism is factually wrong, and a detriment to his religion, but he still prefers that to atheists NOT indoctrinating other people’s children. He says that offering only an actual factual education instead is somehow tantamount to a totalitarian forced conformity.
(shakes head in wide-eyed bewilderment).
It occurs to me that Glenn Morton’s notoriety -and all the respect he has ever rightfully earned- was based on a single honest reflection, a period of clarity -which his religion has since found a way to retard and reverse; much the pity.
Wednesday November 7th, I will be on Dogma Debate
from 7:00pm to 9:00pm central [Texas] time.
I’ll be on with David Smalley and Shayrah as we take live callers at 214-377-1166.
Hear it live at dogmadebate.com
Listeners who don’t want to call can tweet their questions/comments to the host @davidcsmalley
The show will podcast to iTunes immediately after the live broadcast.