Open Thread for Episode 20.48: Russell and Tracie

Topic is the Genesis story of Eden which casts human agency as villainous, and how this is reflected in some fundamentalist ideologies regarding the “sin” of asserting one’s own agency–resulting in objectification becoming normalized and even idealized. The Eden story begins the repeated theme of subjugation of one’s own agency and will to that of another–of total subjugation and, consequently, objectification (the denouncing of that which makes us human, rather than object, the will or agency).

Examples of modern agency-denigrating comments by such brands of Christian include statement such as:

“You just want to sin and not be held accountable.”

Since “sin” is not about what causes real harm, but about simply acting in a way that is antithesis to what god would have you do, this comment merely condemns the act of asserting one’s own agency as somehow wrong.

“You worship yourself” (variants may include putting yourself in the position of god in some way).

Again, this is simply asserting that you are holding your own agency as being as important as the agency of what god would have you do, or even more important. So, it boils down to denouncing the assertion of one’s own will or agency as haughty and incorrect.

“You trust your own judgment (rather than what god tells you to do).”

Clearly viewing the person as foolish and wrong for, again, the act of simply asserting one’s own agency.

Objectification of a human being (often conflated with sexualization–although I believe it’s important to differentiate between the two, as they are not synonymous) means denying their agency and treating them as a “thing” by holding their will/agency as irrelevant or less relevant than one’s own–thereby making them nonhuman or less human, and more object-like.

The Christian religion–and especially the fundamentalist branches not only downplay, but vilify agency as wicked, evil and “sinful.” And this carries out in modern conversations with regard to issues such as abortion where analogies are often used comparing women to objects in order to show cause for why a woman’s agency can be disregarded in the equation of conflict of rights between mother and unborn. Terms like “consent” are distorted and used in ways we would not use in any other context. A woman who has consented to sex is often said, by such people, to have “consented” to gestation and childbirth, whereas we don’t say that people who consent to drive have “consented” to die in a fiery car crash–and if the crash occurs we understand why the driver would attempt to escape their death, and we would help them escape by offering whatever assistance we could to avoid the negative consequences of that risk event occurring.

By subjugating human will and agency, and undermining concepts like “consent,” Christianity has created a (sub?)culture of dehumanization and objectification that considers itself morally upright compared to other cultures where respect and regard for human agency are promoted.

Be very skeptical of claims that Donald Trump is an atheist

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Donald Trump, holds up his bible who was giving to him by his mother as he speaks during the Values Voter Summit, held by the Family Research Council Action, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in Washington ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

As I mentioned on the show several times in the last few weeks, the Atheist Community of Austin is a non-profit group and we don’t endorse political candidates as a matter of policy. We do encourage political engagement though, and there is a big difference.

Donald Trump won the election a week ago today, and will take office in two months. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts about Hillary Clinton, but at this point they are pretty much irrelevant. The question is no longer “Should we vote for Trump?” but “What will a Trump presidency look like?” That is a hard question to answer decisively, because one of the main features of Trump’s campaign was that he was incredibly erratic and unpredictable. When you come right down to it, who the hell knows what he will do?

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Open Thread for Episode 20.43: Russell and Tracie

Today I want to share two stories that were told to me by different people about their personal experiences and conclusions they drew from those experiences. Interestingly, although they are different stories, they are, in fact, the same story.

STORY 1:

An acquaintance of mine once told me she could tell when bad things were going to happen. She said when she was dating her current partner, they went out to dinner at a restaurant. She soon felt a sense of foreboding, and insisted they had to leave, as something bad was going to happen. And so they left.
“So, then what happened?” I asked, expecting to hear that the building collapsed that night, or several people who ate there were soon hospitalized with food poisoning, or there’d been an armed robbery on the premises an hour after they’d walked out.

“I don’t know. We just left–because I knew something bad was going to happen.”

STORY 2:

An acquaintance of mine once told me she learned she was an empath when she was walking one day and began to feel a sudden and overwhelming onset of negative emotions for no apparent reason. She realized she had just passed a man walking in the other direction and knew that she’d picked up on his emotional angst.

“So, what was he upset about?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t actually talk to him.”

I could spend time writing about what is wrong with the reasoning here, and on what level these two stories are “the same,” but I won’t insult the reader by explaining the obvious.