Going rate for babies in Texas: $500!

You don’t see too many — well, I can’t think of any so far — posts about the ongoing abortion/choice wars here. Mainly, I see that as more of a political issue than an atheist issue, though it’s true that most anti-abortion agitators are right-wing Christians, and many atheists tend to be liberals who come down on the side of choice. (Though certainly not all; there is an organization called the Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League.)

I myself am no great fan of abortion; I think it’s a sad and tragic decision for any woman to have to make, and it cannot come easily. And I think that’s actually a view held by almost all pro-choicers, too. No one supports abortion rights because they think it’s way cool to vacuum a fetus out of a woman’s womb. The issue is that the choice to have any medical procedure performed ought not to be taken out of the hands of private citizens and put into the oh-so-reliable hands of the government. Especially when that government is overrun by religious demagogues who think the “right to life” of a blastocyst takes precedence over that of an actual living breathing woman.

Texas, being the kind of big Bible Belt stronghold where you can actually drive down highways and see “pro-life” billboards as well as those trying to make virginity look like the most bitchen thing ever, has come up with a new weird twist in the ongoing wars over who gets to say what happens with women’s bodies. State senator Dan Patrick has just introduced a bill that would pay women $500 for choosing adoption over abortion.

There are so many things weird and wrong with this it’s hard to know where to begin. First off, it’s rooted on the assumption that only broke, unmarried women get abortions. It assumes that women are so shallow that they can be bought off making a difficult and morally troubling decision simply with a little money. In the case of abortions undertaken following rape, it instantly transforms the woman from unwitting mother-to-be to unwitting state-sponsored prostitute. (What’s next, I wonder? Offer underage rape victims an iPod?) And, as some people have already pointed out, it comes creepily close to the illegal act of baby-selling.

I can think of other reasons to object to the bill. If one were a conservative, you’d think this bill would look remarkably like, you know, welfare. After all, aren’t conservatives the ones who complain about a welfare system that tosses loads of taxpayers’ money at low-income families who keep having kids they can’t afford? So how is Senator Patrick’s bill any different? After all, it’s not his $500 he’s offering to ambivalent moms-to-be, it’s ours. It looks like you’re just giving women a nine-month headstart on the whole welfare process. So why would a conservative be anti-welfare yet pro-let’s-give-a-bounty-to-pregnant-women?

As an adopted child myself, I’m all for adoption. But the way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is not simply to buy women off. It’s to provide fact-based, comprehensive sex education in the schools, in a program that provides students with all available information about the consequences of irresponsible sexual behavior — including not only abstinence, but info about STD’s and the proper use of contraceptives. Never underestimate the power of education. I attribute the fact I’m a non-smoker today largely to the ghastly photos of diseased lungs I was shown in health class in my impressionable youth.

Alas, with religious demagogues, irony is never too far away. And as we all know, the same people who oppose a woman’s right to control her own reproductive organs are the same people who want to inhibit the kind of proper sex education that young people need, replacing it with an abstinence-only mantra that has already been shown, time and again, not to work. It’ll take a lot more than 500 bucks a head to undo the damage done by ignorance.

Left Behind: Eternal Forces gets left behind in the clearance bin

John Romero can sleep more easily now. Romero’s infamous Daikatana is no longer the most notorious flop in video game history. That dubious honor now belongs to Left Behind: Eternal Forces. (See our first post about it here.) Universally panned by the gaming community for its laughable bugginess and spyware, and boycotted by its Christian target audience for its emphasis on violence (though the game itself is nowhere near as violent as the books it’s based on), the game has resulted in a $31 million loss for its parent company, which is seeing its stock trading at a humiliating 31¢ a share.

If you click on the link to our own previous post there, you’ll see an amusing comment from someone claiming to be an employee of Left Behind Games (and hey, they probably are, or were — I suspect a bit of downsizing has been done), defending the game from its critics and offering examples of “credible” reviews from “unbiased experts”. It’s a sign of how badly the criticism was stinging LBG, Inc. that they felt the need to come to a little blog like ours — much less trafficked at the time of that post than it is now — to defend it. Still, if lives were being changed because of this game, you’d think it would have sold a little better, you know? (And one of the “credible” reviews they link to is one on IGN.com that only gives the game a “5.9 – Mediocre” rating.)

Clearly God just wasn’t backing this little venture, was he? Maybe He was off playing Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball.

Atheist Experience #489: Darwin, Hitler, & Martin Luther

Today’s post about Matt in the paper reminded me I haven’t kept up posting videos of the show as I’d been promising. Here’s the most recent one posted to Google, episode #489 from February 25. Don Baker talks about Martin Luther’s influence on the Nazis and answers evolution deniers’ claims that Hitler’s anti-Semitism was inspired by Darwin. Airing of this show cut off early.

Now he’s going to be a total diva

As he’s entirely too modest to tell you so himself, I’m happy to announce our own Matt Dillahunty got profiled in the local paper, which is probably the most publicity the Atheist Experience TV show has gotten in its entire 10-year history. (You’re going to be intercepted by “Register now!” crap when you click the link. Just log in with username dwan8@dodgeit.com, password dwandwan.)

They kind of make it sound like The Matt Show, not mentioning the fact that it’s been on ten years and has inspired numerous atheist groups around the country to start their own similar access shows during all that time. But I like that the Statesman, which has never exactly had a very kind disposition towards the nonreligious, could manage such a fair article. Hopefully it will bring a lot of attention. Congratulations, Matt!

A bizarre twist on homophobia

I gotta admit, as much as all atheists are routinely bullied by the religious, still, nobody gets the abuse as badly as gays. And as some of the kindest and most good-hearted people I’ve known in my life have been either gay or lesbian (much moreso than any Christian I’ve ever known), I’m as offended by such attacks on people who are good friends as I am by garden-variety bigotry such as racism, and its effect on my nonwhite friends.

Albert Mohler is a Southern Baptist preacher who recently caused a bit of a furore when he posted an article to his blog suggesting that there may well be a biological origin for homosexuality, and if so, it might be possible to “cure” teh gayz while the fetus is still in utero.

Mohler caught flak from both sides — from fundie bigots who want to think that being gay is all a choice based on spectacular moral failing, thus justifying their continuing hatred and prejudice, and from gay activists, who think of the idea of being able to detect a “gay gene” in a fetus and give the mother some kind of patch to wear to correct the condition to be frankenscience.

Mohler backpedals like mad in his most recent blog entry, naturally catering to the bigots, and in so doing he makes a bizarre statement in which he unwittingly confirms the evil of the god he worships. Mohler states that in the eventuality science does confirm a genetic basis for homosexuality, this would simply be confirmation of the Fall (darn that stupid Eve!) and “God’s judgment upon sin,” and that…

Such a discovery, if it were to be accepted, would not change God’s condemnation of all forms of homosexual behavior, nor would it mean that this represents the inviolable “identity” of any individual. As I argued previously, moral responsibility does not require absolute moral choice. A soldier in battle may not have chosen to be in a situation of moral anguish, but he is still absolutely responsible for his decisions and actions. Those who commit homosexual acts, whoever they are and whatever their biological profile, are absolutely responsible for their sin. Regardless of any actual or hypothetical orientation, those who commit same-sex acts are responsible for the choice to commit the sinful act.

Mohler is breathtakingly full of it here. The soldier analogy is entirely inappropriate, because killing people in war is not based upon biological imperatives, or at least it hasn’t been since we lived in caves as hunter/gatherers. These days wars are fought for religious or political ideologies, and not to fulfill a genetic predisposition. And admitting people might have a biological imperative to do a thing, then claim they have a choice anyway and condemn them for choosing to do a thing that you’ve just stated they can’t help, is simply dealing from the bottom of the deck. You might as well come up with an arbitrary theological justification for calling the wearing of clothing or the eating of food a “sin,” and then say, “Regardless of whether or not people are biologically predisposed to wear clothing for warmth or eat food, they are still responsible for the choice to do so.”

But more amusing is what this implies for Mohler’s God. If homosexuality is genetically based, then according to Mohler, God has essentially created thousands of generations of people with a deliberate flaw that will inevitably lead to their condemnation. God has, in effect, made unsavable sinners, and their status as unsavable sinners is already locked down while they are still in the womb, presenting us with the — ahem — morally dubious spectacle of a smiling, giggling baby who is irretreivably doomed to eternal Hell. God is making millions of people simply to populate Hell with. This is another predistination argument, and if predestination is true, then the entire act of Christian evangelism is a sham even if God does exist, because God has intentionally made people with a condition that will prevent their ever being saved.

Again, Christian belief reveals its intellectual and moral bankruptcy. While there may be no way to cure homosexuality and lesbianism, there is a way to cure hate, and it’s in letting go of ancient superstitions that divide the human race into Us and Them.

Whoops

Early today I accidentally posted a story about my son that was completely irrelevant to the Atheist Experience. Although 5 people left comments, this was really intended for my son’s blog and not this one. Sorry for the confusion, but I deleted the post.

Stop the evil godless Congress!

On Monday, the Secular Coalition announced that Rep. Pete Stark (D. Calif.) is, according to their research, the first open nontheist in the history of Congress. This announcement came as the result of a the Secular Coalition’s “Find an Atheist, Humanist, Freethinker Elected Official” contest.

Wasting very little time, the Christian Seniors Association(a division of Traditional Values Coalition) released a statement which clearly demonstrates the anti-atheist biogtry and ignorance that made this search for nontheists both necessary and overdue.

CSA ASKS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO SPEAK UP AS CALIFORNIA CONGRESSMAN STARK DENIES GOD’S EXISTENCE
A Sad First in the History of the Congress

Washington, DC – The Christian Seniors Association (CSA) today encouraged members of the Congress to speak of their belief in God on the floor of the House after a liberal California Congressman made history by denying God.

Katy, bar the door! There’s a Congressman who doesn’t believe in God, so we’re gonna have us some “chuhch”. Why would it be necessary (or appropriate) for Congress to stop doing business in order to give their personal testimonies? Did Rep. Pete Stark’s announcement tie up any Congressional time?

“It is sad but not surprising that the current Congress has produced this historic first – one of its members has denied God,” said CSA Executive Director James Lafferty.

So, this is clearly a demonstration of the evils of “the current Congress”? Nevermind the fact that Rep. Stark has been a member of Congress since 1973, we need to spin this so that the Democratic takeover looks bad. Seriously though, how bad could it really be? Isn’t he just one man that flew under the religious radar? Is this really a sign of the apocalypse?

“The liberals in Congress want to throttle any school child who bows his or her head in prayer, but they want to establish a right for liberals to bash Christians and berate God around the clock.

Oh no! They’re coming for our kids and bad mouthing our god!

Ok, enough sarcasm…now I’m pissed. I suppose I should be grateful that the CSA has clearly demonstrated the very problems we’ve been pointing out. This ignorant, misdirected bigotry is the result of a very narrow mindset that has no understanding of what true religious freedom is.

They began with “there’s an atheist in Congress”, moved to “well, that’s no surprise, I’ve read Ann Coulter’s book…this is just part of the godless liberal agenda” and then graduate to blatant lies and sensationalist attacks about how we’re coming after the children.

“It is time for religious members of Congress to push back.”

Sure it is. One of hundreds of Congressmen is a heathen, so we need everyone to organize in opposition to this travesty. Evidently Rep. Stark is a huge threat to the fabric of the delusional universe these folks call home.

“We have long recognized that all of this hot air about ‘separation of church and state’ has been a veiled effort to intimidate and silence religious voices in public policy matters.

And we, the godless, have long recognized that you have no understanding of ‘separation of church and state’ and no interest in exercising tolerance toward those who hold beliefs which differ from yours. In your ignorant little minds, religious freedom only applies to those who share your fondness for fairytales.

The First Amendment is now “hot air”. Thanks.

Please explain how Pete Stark’s beliefs “intimidate and silence religious voices”. Could someone silence those crickets, please? I’m having a hard time hearing their response.

“Congressman Stark’s statement is a very sad benchmark for America. It could be the moment which defines the decline of our country or it could be the spark which marks an important day.

It certainly could and its clear which direction you’re encouraging – decline. How quickly we forget that this nation was founded by people trying to avoid the exact mindset you’re promoting.

“This is a fight which is destined to be fought in America and we think it should begin today.”

Clearly fighting is all you understand. Rational discourse is beyond you.

More on ol’ Dan: When hubris becomes delusion

Dan’s latest expression of his martyr mantra included this pitiful little aside, which I found comical enough to comment upon.

Martin is a bitter man but I still love him enough to say “Stop, you will get burned” (because I was burned myself and I know the outcome). I have been called an a-hole and a Jesus freak and all sorts of profane things even here but that never stopped me from getting the word out. This group here is counter productive and hate filled and that is just fine with me, I understand it isn’t a pretty picture to those on the other side.

Dan lives in his own little world, where messages are allowed to go out but none are allowed to come in. He says as much here. He broadcasts but does not receive. When he snivels that he has been called nasty names by people he’s approached, he doesn’t take that as a sign he’s doing a bad job of witnessing for his lord, but that he’s doing a great job. In his skewed way of looking at reality, being a deliverer of the word who constantly fails and antagonizes the very people he’s trying to reach is, paradoxically, a sign of success, because to him, success as a witness is not in how many souls you save, but in how much “persecution” you endure while doing it.

I suspect Dan puts a lot of stock in John 15:18. The price of dedicating your life to some illusive ideal, to the extent of alienating people with whom you could very easily get along if you were smart, civil, and knew how to hold your own in a discussion of even the most controversial topics, is clearly something that a person of Dan’s pathology is willing to pay. Every time we reply to one of his posts &#151 either with strong rebuttal, direct questions, pointing out inconsistencies, or demanding clarifications — it’s easier and preferable to him to think he’s simply dealing with a bunch of angry haters. It lets him feel closer to his bleeding Jesus on the cross. Which kind of indicates that, for all his talk of God and love and messages, it’s all about him in the end, isn’t it?

The dishonesty and dementia of Dan Marvin: Part 2

And to think that for a brief moment I was actually inclined to feel sorry for Dan Marvin. After all, he turns up here, offers a host of increasingly absurd and ignorant non-arguments, and is refuted every time. Rather than evaluate his arguments in the light of the refutations he’s gotten, and attempt honest rebuttals, he’s shown himself to be to be a pathological, self-deluded liar, projecting all of his greatest faults on all of us.

He has been answered in the comments by myself, Stephen, Tracie and others with utmost clarity and directness, yet he whines that he has been “misinterpreted, misrepresented, and misquoted,” clearly not comprehending that if we’re literally copying and pasting the words he’s actually written while responding to him, we’re in fact taking utmost care not to do any of those things. He accuses me of “deceitfulness in so called ‘welcoming’ me to discuss only attempt to belittle and degrade me.” In Dan’s world, if you invite him to your home, then you get angry because he pees on the rug, you’ve deceived him. Dan is completely ignoring that…

  • he came to us, we never sought him out (his first comment came out of the blue in this thread)
  • when I welcomed him here, I also set out a detailed list of bullet points advising him on good vs. bad arguing techniques, and making him aware of certain facts about atheists he should take into consideration before talking to us, all of which he categorically ignored
  • the “belittling” he thinks he’s received has been mostly due to the poor quality of the posts he’s made here, all of which have consisted of logical fallacies, misunderstandings of his own precious Scripture, outright lies about science and gratuitous insults, and simple stupidity (as in his consistent failure to comprehend that he’s been asked many times for a good proof of God, only to continue asserting this being’s existence without support)
  • that any other belittling and degradation he’s gotten here has been, again, entirely his fault for shoring up his ignorance with unmerited cockiness and arrogance (such as responding to fellow Christian Chris W, who warned him that he was simply sowing more confusion and senselessness, by dismissing Chris as a “false convert”)

In short, Dan has been a complete disgrace. I was going to make this second post a lengthy exegesis on correcting the scientific inaccuracies in his first battery of comments, but I no longer see the point, as anyone here who’s properly educated will know what the right answers are, and Dan is incapable of learning.

So Dan can be summed up as follows. He does not how to debate. He does not understand that his views on the Bible will not be shared by everyone else. He does not accept that anyone else could know more about the Bible and Christianity than he does. He does not know how to listen to others. He does not know how to respond to being welcomed with respectful behavior. He does not know how to distinguish truths from falsehoods. He does not know how to answer direct questions, and does not seem to know even how to understand them when they are asked. He does not comprehend the concept of evidence. He does not know how to accept responsibility for his own words and deeds. He does not know how to lose graciously. He does not know how to tell the truth. He does not know how to behave like an adult.

This is a pretty comprehensive catalog of character failings. The guy is a simple fanatic, his mind locked into a religious ideology so hermetically sealed from critical inquiry that even air doesn’t get in. His behavior up to now has been more than enough to get him banned from any number of other blogs. But we don’t do that here. I’m happy to have him keep turning up, digging himself deeper into the quagmire he has created for himself, and dealing with the responses he gets. But in the interest of honesty, I am going to retract one statement about him that I made previously: he is a troll, or more commonly what’s called a “concern troll”. And the fact that all of the above will merely convince Dan all the more that he’s the one being picked on, belittled, and maligned, when all he’s trying to do is “love” us and look out for us, is just another sad indicator of his disconnection from reality.