Human Race to Islam: Please F.O. and die

Much as I find right-wing jargon to be mindlessly jingoistic and childishly reactionary, they were onto something when they coined the term “Islamofascism.” Here are two reports of the oppressive, totalitarian practices of this depraved religion in action.

  1. Dog walking banned in Riyadh on the grounds it leads to flirting and, possibly, cooties. Here’s something boggling to contemplate about Islamist states. Most totalitarian regimes are run by angry, lonely little pricks who spend their working days in offices thinking up ways to keep people from being happy, ever. But bring Islam into the picture, and your list of “harmless fun activities magically morphed into arrestable offenses” suddenly includes having a pet and meeting girls. And I suppose I would find the concept of an actual division of law enforcement named The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice more laughable — let alone the idea that walking your dog could possibly be something anyone would be demented enough to consider a vice of any kind — if it weren’t for the very eerie likelihood that there are Dominionist Christians in this country who are smacking their foreheads and saying, “D’oh! Why didn’t we think of that?”
  2. White Europeans continue to prove themselves complete pussies when confronted with the spectre of pissed-off guys with beards. (And allow me to forestall enraged replies from white Europeans who aren’t afraid to stand up to Islamist incursions upon your rights, and are embarrassed by those in your cultures, official or unofficial, who let fear conquer them: by all means, feel welcome to sound off in the comments.)

    The thing that radical, Great-Satan-hating Islamofascists have learned all too effectively is that nothing scares citizens of (what said citizens like to think are) free Western democracies than the idea that a Muslim is primed to go batshit bombthrowing crazy at the drop of a hat. Confession time: when I was a younger and callow chap, I was in a psychologically abusive relationship with a woman whose tool of control was her temper. I never knew what I might say to cause her to go off like a fragmentation grenade, and so I said very little, even on days which seemed perfectly normal and on which no argument had yet ensued. Everything could be perfectly pleasant, then I could make some innocuous statement about nothing in particular, and within seconds I’d find myself being screamed at, at window rattling volumes. It was, shall we say, an unpleasant period of my life.

    Islamists like to use a similar tool of control to stifle freedom — free speech, criticism of their beliefs or their politics, artistic expression — in countries that, remarkably, aren’t Islamist theocracies and in which they’re even minorities in the population. Ever since 9/11, the new normal has been that anything could drive a Muslim into a homicidal rage at any moment, and you don’t have any clue what it is, so it’s better not to take chances. Okay, so that may be a stereotype that the vast majority of non-batshit-bombthrowing-crazy Muslims resent, but it’s certainly proven useful to the real agitators among them.

    The latest victim is a novel, The Jewel of the Medina, by debut writer Sherry Jones, which was slated for publication in the UK weeks from now, only to be pulled at the eleventh hour due to fears that the subject matter — the protagonist is one of Mohammed’s child brides — would lead to a Satanic Verses fatwa redux. Isn’t it convenient for Islamists that they no longer even have to fight the “War on Terror” any more? The West just hands it to them.

    Remarkably, the person who sounded the klaxon of fear regarding Jones’s book was not only a Westerner, but a college professor from UT-Austin, Denise Spellberg. Professor, you’re a disgrace to our town. Just like that, all that was needed was the teeniest, tiniest fear that the book might “incite acts of violence by a small radical segment,” and presto, bye bye freedom of expression and speech!

    Okay, so Jones’s novel does sound like lurid crap, in the few excerpts that have appeared online. But if it’s going to be denied publication, at least do so for the right reasons.

I’m with Pat Condell on this one. I see no reason to be respectful or tolerant towards a religion that condones “honor killings” and thinks walking your fuckmothering dog is some kind of threat to civilization itself. This kind of barbarism earns no respect, none, not even a smidgen. And I also stand with old Ben Franklin, whose famous line about how folks who are willing to surrender a little freedom in exchange for a little security don’t deserve either resonates today more than it ever has in history. So, in the spirit of fair play, and as a sop to all those whiny Christians who like to throw the “you only attack us because you’re too scared to go after Muslims” line at us, allow me proudly to strike this blow for freedom!

Now if you’ll pardon me, my dogs want their walkies.

Okay, so I’m giving this Atheist Nexus thingy a try

The last time an atheist-centric social network was attempted — that would be Dawkins Social — it was so ineptly put together and unattractive I just gave up on it. A shame, because Dawkins is the world’s most visible atheist celebrity (if you don’t count people even more famous for things other than their nonbelief, like Jodie Foster and Angelina Jolie), and having his name as a kind of godless gravity well around which the online atheist community could orbit made sound marketing sense, I suppose. But the whole thing was just badly designed, and I can’t be bothered to log on (which I haven’t done in over a year) to see if they’ve fixed it. (And in any case, Dawkins.net’s forum is succeeding where the social network failed, I think.)

Along comes Atheist Nexus, another social networking time waster. But hey, these things are free, and if this one is better put together than Dawkins Social, I’m happy to give it a shot. And if it proves silly and useless, I can just forget it, like I very quickly learned to forget Twitter. So there’s a buttony thingummy to my profile, where those of you also attending the party can friend me if you choose.

View my page on Atheist Nexus


Addendum: Well, the friend requests have been steadily coming in over the last few hours, including lots from fans of the blog/show I haven’t met yet, which is nice to see. And there appear to be a lot of active groups, too. So this one might work out.

Hilariously, I also see that desperate little attention-seeking twit Dan Marvin has joined (remember him?), apparently so he can flaunt his ridiculous non-arguments and scientific illiteracy to his intellectual betters, who will then proceed to flog him mercilessly for it. Masochistic much, Dan? Go ahead and accept his friend requests if you like, that’s your business. Me, I decided long ago it goes against my rational secular morality to abuse the handicapped. ;-)


Addendum 2: Okay, I just added a whopping 90 photos to a TAM6 album, which is pretty much the same as my Flickr set, except longer, with more of my road trip shots. Later on I’ll create an album for TAM5 and Dawkins’ Austin visit back in March. I figure if I’m going to be part of this thing, I can’t complain I’m getting nothing out of it if I don’t put in.

Critical Mass

Once again I have to wave at my good friends Lloyd, Alan, and Rachel, who live way way way down on that big island. (Actually, I think Lloyd is still freezing his ass off up in Scotland. I’d say he’s due home.) At TAM they were all excited to get their own blog and podcast started up, and now they have. At least, the blog is up — I don’t know if they’ve gotten the podcast launched yet. All the same, pay a visit to the fledgling Critical Mass and give them some of that AE-fan love.

Happy 80th!

Don’t know how I missed this, but James Randi turned 80 yesterday. And here I was thinking he was already well into his octogenerianosity! Well, good, this means we’ll have him around for many more TAMs to come. Happy slightly belated birthday to the man to whom almost every skeptic alive today owes a debt of gratitude, for helping us learn how to throw off the shackles of superstition and appreciate the real world as reason and the scientific method reveal it to us. See you next year in Vegas!

Sprouting Seeds

It warms my heart to see young people embrace reason and critical thinking and declare themselves atheists. I have always valued learning and it is wonderful to see young people independently reach the same conclusion I have. It makes me wish I was able to do so earlier in my life. Alas, I’m from a different generation than those in college and high school today. Some things are easier for them and some things are harder, I’m sure. I will always be an avid supporter of college campus groups like the local Atheist Longhorns. Watching these sprouting seeds gives me so much hope for the future.

It’s doubly wonderful to hear from an outspoken young atheist who is a freshman in high school. Lucia Guatney recently finished her freshman year in high school and she has written a nice article on what it’s like to be an atheist high schooler, about her conversation with Richard Dawkins, and about how exciting that was for her. She even has her own blog. Wow. Go Lucia!

It was triply wonderful for me to notice that Lucia is going to the same high school that I did. It made me think about how the school has changed and how I’ve changed along the way. I think it was there that some seeds of atheism were planted in me. My best friend was an atheist, but I didn’t form an opinion on religion until much later. Perhaps I was fortunate to not be too immersed in religion in my youth.

I remember three high school teachers who helped to plant some seeds. One had us read about the Holocaust and think critically about convention and authority. Another helped me appreciate the Spanish conquest of the Americas and the fraud behind Guadalupe. A third (math) teacher pointed out that according to the Bible, pi is 3. Hats off to these fabulous teachers, wherever they may be.

I have to give a nod to the Secular Students of Rice University, my alma mater. While college freethought groups are now common, they were rare when I was in college and Rice didn’t have one. I’d like to think that I helped to pave the way for them in some small way. When I was in college, I did some sparring with the Campus Crusade for Christ and Maranatha student groups. An acquaintance of mine from college looked me up on Facebook recently and gave me an unsolicited compliment about how brave I was to sand up to their viewpoints those many years ago. I don’t think of myself as particularly brave.

It’s nice to look back on some of those early experiences and feel a connection to the next generation of young people who are poised to make their impact on the world. I have high hopes for them.

Headscratcher of the Day

Since he couldn’t reach us by email (that would be tv [at] atheist-community [dot] org), an Australian blogger named Skelliot left a message in comments informing us that his university blocks the AE blog, as well as some other atheistical and scientifical sites, by categorizing us as “Occult.” Yes, I’ll be baffled by that one for a long time. Meanwhile, Christian drivel is given a pass, of course. Irony much? Anyway, it’s not a policy that speaks well for his college (whatever it is) presuming to be an institution of higher learning. I’d suggest a transfer.

Chuck Colson’s insecure little God

If you haven’t clicked over to the Zondervan blog to read Chuck Colson’s extended reply to Kazim, by all means do so. It’s really quite something, a rhetorical mishmash chock full of logical fallacies, false premises, and poor argument structure. One of Christianity’s bestselling apologists mounts some of the most amateurish defenses of the faith I’ve ever seen. Quite often — no doubt used to writing almost exclusively for a Christian readership who unquestioningly accepts all he says — he just asserts things without backing them up, or, if he does, with feeble sound bites that may seem like obvious conclusions to him, but won’t to anyone who thinks about them for longer than a picosecond.

I’ve been replying to a lot of points in the comments over there, but for this one specific passage, I’m posting my reply here, with only slight copy editing so it reads like a blog post and not a comment. I hope Zondervan has the integrity to leave my comments and those of other atheists up, and doesn’t do the Uncommon Descent insta-delete thing. Whatever they choose, I’m posting this one bit here, as I think it’s an important one. Because in this passage, Colson makes an embarrassing mistake in arguing for his God that, unfortunately, doesn’t paint God in a very flattering light. Indeed, he unwittingly makes his God into a rather pathetic and weak figure.

Colson starts:

You’re making the assumption that for God to be God, or for you to believe in Him, He must reveal Himself by giving us evidence which by reason would establish His existence. But why should the God who created everything that is explain Himself? What would compel such a God to do that?

Gosh, what about that crazy little thing called love? Over and over Christians try to tell us that God is love, that he loves us and wants a personal relationship with us, etc. etc. And yet when God is asked, entirely reasonably, to reveal his existence to us unambiguously, suddenly we’re the jerks! This is kind of hard to swallow in light of the fact this God purportedly sentences anyone who doesn’t believe in or worship him to his satisfaction to eternal torture in Hell!

Ironically, just a few paragraphs earlier, Mr. Colson asks rhetorically…

Is not the capacity for love, though you cannot see it, something which can be objectively (though not scientifically) measured?

Yes, it is (though Colson’s confused on his terms — the ways in which the emotions of love manifest in observable behavior are something science can study). And I would suggest that one measure of the capacity for love is that one does not deceive the object of one’s love, that one does not hide that which should not and does not need to be hidden, that one treats the object of one’s love with generosity, kindness and above all, respect.

It is not an act of respect — let alone love — to condemn someone to a horrible punishment simply for doubting your existence when you have categorically refused to reveal your existence. That you are a universe-creating deity is irrelevant to the issue. If your argument is that God, being God, doesn’t owe anybody anything, because HE’S GOD, SO SHUT UP, then why should human beings with reasoning capacity respond to that kind of arrogant disrespect with love and respect ourselves? To do so would only be a dishonest love borne out of fear. Mr. Colson is arguing for God as nothing more than a tyrant, an authoritarian thug and despot. Is this really the message he hopes will persuade atheists?

So in reply to Mr. Colson’s question, “But why should the God who created everything that is explain Himself?” my response is simple: If God really loved us, he would.

Yet Mr. Colson goes on with more arguments in favor of God’s authoritarianism and privilege, as if these were praiseworthy qualities.

A God great enough to create the heavens and earth, and all of life in it, is a God who has no obligation to explain why He created us. In fact, He has a good reason not to. I believe it was Aquinas who argued that if God could be known to us by reason, we would take Him for granted; He would be no different than the tree that one could see from one’s office.

Well, I would argue that God does have such an obligation, especially if the penalty for not being a member of his fan club is eternity in the lake of fire. If God did not want to have any obligations to us, then he should have left us as mindless as amoebas, and not given us the capacity to think and reason, which naturally tends to instill in us feelings of self-worth.

But I cannot imagine who would consider this silly point of Aquinas’s to be a “good reason” for God’s not revealing himself. It is hardly the case that any person alive holds all of the things they know to exist on some sort of even plateau of worth. Any parent knows that their own children exist; unless they are really horrible parents, that fact certainly does not mean they are as indifferent to their children as they are to a tree.

And doesn’t it seem curiously insecure of God to worry about being “taken for granted,” when, just a moment ago, Colson was arguing for God’s being so magnificent and so glorious and so divinely important and powerful and magisterial in his universe-creating awesomeness that the very idea of revealing himself to us puny humans was simply too far beneath his notice to be anything but absurd? Haven’t I seen this before? Oz the Great and Terrible, was it? Bluster, bluster, bluster…but pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

I’d suggest in future, Colson should consider amending his apologetics so that he doesn’t make the rather devastating mistake of following up a bout of “God’s too big and awesome and important to reveal himself to mere mortals,” with, “But really…he’s scared you’ll ignore him!”


PS: If you’re inclined to leave comments of your own at the Zondervan blog, do remember these basics, please, about which I shouldn’t have to ask. Be civil and polite. Keep your language clean. And restrict yourself simply to refuting the points you think need refuting, in detail, without telling Colson you think he must be “some kind of fucking idiot for believing all that crap!” (Civility! From me! Russell must be beaming with pride!)

Ray Comfort on WDAY AM 970

I’m listening to Ray Comfort spew nonsense on WDAY this morning and losing an IQ point a minute. You may recall that he was supposed to debate PZ Myers on today’s show, but there was a change of format. PZ will be on tomorrow at 10:00am, so I can regain my lost IQ points.

Some gems from the show include Ray’s agreement that the Catholic Church tortured people during the Inquisition, but “don’t blame that on Christians.” This was after a caller pointed out that the church imprisoned Gallileo for suggesting that the earth revolves around the sun. Just a few minutes before that, Ray had commented that “In a hundred years time we will laugh at what science believes.” The man truly has no sense of irony.

He also thinks there’s “absolute, 100% proof” that intelligent design is true. Well, we already knew that Ray, but where’s the proof? He had the temerity to use the old “no building without a builder” canard and to further demonstrate his misunderstanding of evolution by asking the host, “Can you make me a cow from nothing?”

No Ray, but you’re doing a pretty good job of making an ass of yourself from nothing. Aside from your gross misunderstanding of evolution, you have a habit of pretending you can’t hear the callers who disagree with you. Of course, your hearing miraculously returns for the YECs recommending Answers in Genesis as a source of science information.

In short, nothing new here. Same old creationist nonsense, same old intellectual dishonesty.

Oh hell, another one

Is the Greene Litigiousness Virus making the rounds lately? Here’s another dimwit only too eager to don Patrick’s crazy hat and leap into the fray.

A Canton man is suing Zondervan Publishing and a Tennessee-based publisher, claiming their versions of the Bible that refer to homosexuality as a sin violate his constitutional rights and have caused him emotional pain and mental instability.

Well, I’ll certainly buy the mental instability bit, but I hardly think the courts are likely to agree that Zondervan’s Bibles have caused it. Bradley LaShawn Fowler has apparently failed to notice that every translation of the Bible in existence vilifies gays, even the many millions of editions not published by Zondervan. There are sound condemnations to be made of the Bible regarding the suffering its teachings have caused many groups of people down the centuries — gays, Jews, atheists, women. But frivolous litigation addresses these issues not at all, and only invites more derision. I suspect Mr. Fowler (who’s representing himself, which I’m sure will come as a knockout surprise) is destined to endure yet more “demoralization, chaos and bewilderment,” especially when he finds out just how quickly this one gets thrown out.