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Blogging makes a difference

Blogging can be frustrating. A lot of the time it feels like we’re beating our heads against the wall, replying to the same misconceptions over, and over, and over again. I occasionally have a low day where I wonder why I’m spending my time doing this if no one is “getting it.” It also doesn’t help that a lot of people like to poo-poo blogs as being wastes of time or circle jerks (though I never quite understood why circle jerks get such a bad rap). I think this opinion exists because you don’t see the feedback that we get in personal emails or buried in giant comment threads. And that feedback is what keeps me motivated, know I’m changing minds about issues I’m passionate about.

I got such an email from a reader named Matt the other day, which I think many of you may relate to, and he gave me permission to share it:

This email is something that I’ve meant to write, lingering in the back of my mind for a few years. I’ve finally been spurred to action by writing my “why I am an atheist” email for Pharyngula, and by telling an idiot friend on Google+ why “he” is not a valid gender-neutral pronoun. I want to give you sincere thanks, from the very bottom of my heart. You are singlehandedly the reason I consider myself a feminist instead of a men’s rights activist.

I know that’s kind of an odd divide. Let me explain.

I grew up in an environment one might reasonably say had a Republican/libertarian bent to it. When I was growing up, and even now, my mom was the type who–repeatedly!–claimed that the young, upper-middle-class, white male is the most put-upon ethnic group in modern America (I wish I were exaggerating). Suffice it to say I was led to believe I was in an “oppressed” group. The fact that I went to an all-boys’ catholic high school, overflowing with its male bravado, did not help. Add to all that my complicated relationship with my mom, which would go from amicable to adversarial in a matter of hours, and the result was potentially dangerous.

By nature I am kind of a shy, awkward guy, so when I got to college, it was a challenge to engage with women. Rather than try talking to girls, making mistakes, learning, and growing as a human being, I basically withdrew from the real world into forums and the internet. Obviously this made engaging with women (and eventually even men) seemingly impossible. It was a textbook catch-22. However, just being out of my parents’ house did get me exposed to other viewpoints, and it did make me realize there was more to the world than libertarianism. I began to understand how I wasn’t the oppressed prole I was led to believe. I still had a low opinion of women, though. My feelings aped the same depressingly common comments seen on MRA and PUA forums: “Why are all these women hooking up with guys who are not me (and are therefore assholes)?! I’m such a Nice Guy ™! My inability to interact with women couldn’t possibly be my fault! It must be them, not me! Me me me!”

There are two events which brought about the turning point in this story. First, in May 2009 I reconnected with a friend from high school who sent me a PDF copy of the PUA book by Neil Strauss, The Game. This was the first exposure I had to actual, someone-paid-money-for-this-crap pick-up artist stuff. I finished the book in a week, hoping for a clue to what I was “doing wrong.” Instead, I learned about the sleazy world of pick-up-artistry. Eventually, I decided to try using pick-up techniques. In what is hopefully a surprise to no one, I failed spectacularly, since PUA is about preying on people with insecurities and low self-esteem, and I tried using the techniques on normal, even confident, women. I didn’t want to date or hook up with someone with low self-esteem. Rather than ask myself, “am I doing it wrong?”, I found myself asking, “is this PUA stuff wrong?”

Around that time was the second event: I started reading your blog. I was using Google Reader to follow a few blogs and a bunch of dumb webcomics, and I searched for “atheism,” hoping to find the blog of some biology professor from Minnesota whose website name I couldn’t remember. Instead I found Blag Hag. Reading your blog was crucial in stopping me from a Mad Max-style nightmare future only with PUA/MRA forums. It made me realize a simple truth: “This woman isn’t some unassailable mystery, or some video game that responds to a proper combination of insult, backhanded compliment, quarter-circle-forward-fierce-punch… She’s like me. She’s a normal human being.”

As embarrassing as it is to type now, back then that seemed like a revolutionary thought. By the way you write, you made me pick-up artists as the manipulative shits they really are. You made me see men’s rights activists as the misogynist sociopaths they really are. Most importantly, you made me see feminism as something approachable, understandable, and ultimately, the only logical choice there really is.

Never stop what you do. Ever.

And it’s not just feminism. I got this sweet comment the other day from Timid Atheist:

Jen,

Your blog and Skepchick were the reason I finally admitted to myself that I’m an atheist. I enjoy reading what you and other ladies in the community have to say and the majority of Freethoughts Blogs as well.

When I see this kind of mindless hate and scorn for people come from someone who calls themselves an Atheist, it makes me not want to call myself that anymore and that really upsets me because I thought I’d finally found a place where I could be who I am and enjoy discussing things with like minded people.

I hope that anyone who defends TJ comes to their senses. But I most assuredly will never endorse someone like that. TJ and anyone who agrees with him has no place in any part of society.

Thank you for continuing to do what you do best. And perhaps someday, because of people like you, I won’t have to hide that I’m an Atheist from my family and friends in order to keep custody of my child.

To all the Matts and Timid Atheists out there who send me lovely things like this – and I do get them quite a lot – thank you. I try to reply though I occasionally get busy and forget, but know that I do read and cherish every one.

Comments

  1. says

    Jen,

    You and the rest of the Freethought Blogs community definitely make a difference. I greatly admire the dedication and the passion that goes into all of these blogs – you can feel it and see it in the writing.

    Freethought Blogs has shown that there is a caring community of freethinkers and shatters any religious stereotypes that atheists simply don’t care about anything or anyone.

    Keep up the excellent work.

  2. says

    I’m sure there are many people you’ve touched, I know that you’ve been an inspiration to myself as well as the others here.

    I was just having those sorts of thoughts yesterday, staring at the blinking cursor, wondering what’s the point.

    Thanks for reminding me that if you even make one person stop and think for a moment, it’s worth the time and effort.

  3. says

    “You are singlehandedly the reason I consider myself a feminist instead of a men’s rights activist.”

    I don’t understand why he couldn’t be both, and use what he has learned from feminist blogs to be a better more enlightened MRA.

  4. fort nerd says

    Keep up the great work, Jen.

    PS. Can we stop using the term “Men’s Rights Activist” to describe misogynist complaining trolls? I may know where it’s coming from, but people outside FTB’s regular readership (like my BF) might not, and if they don’t conveniently have a GF who can explain that the term is used sarcastically, they likely won’t bother to check and assume we all hate men having rights. And I don’t think turning off any percent of smart & sane guys who could otherwise be helping the cause is a good thing. /my 0.02$

  5. secha says

    But many of them call themselves MRAs. That isn’t a sarcastic term. That’s genuinely what they think they are.

  6. Walt Yarbrough says

    Jen,

    My own activism is small and local – joining Jessica Ahlquist’s Facebook page and aggressively joining the debate and discussion there.

    And spreading the word amongst my own friends and family via social media.

    Which has led to a few letters to the editor and taking the discussion to the insular echo chambers of the christian and conservative media discussing the issue.

    And that’s all because of you (and, lol, the publicity from boob quake that got me here in the first place.

  7. Elerena says

    Adding another voice for it- blogs in general were what helped me see a lot of of the misconceptions I’ve had- and this blog in particular is the specific one that gave me my epiphany moment in recognizing my privilege.

    That moment is a strange one, especially since afterwards I look at the things I see now and find myself shocked or even ashamed that I never saw it before. But it’s a huge part of who I am now, and I’m not sure I could found it as easily, or maybe even at all , as I did here- simply because of all the places I read, even enjoy a lot, this is the one that has the tone I resonate most with.

    And of course none of that really says exactly what I want to get across, so the best way I have to put it- Blag Hag changed my life for the better in a huge way that I don’t think words will ever properly express.

  8. Jeremy says

    I second the “oasis of sanity”. Thank you. It helps to have a place to go to read people talking sense blended with all manner of valuable humanist virtues.

  9. ewan says

    You don’t need to let your opponents define the terms though. If you do, then the school prayer folks are defending freedom of religion, the anti-choice groups are defending the lives of babies, and the key feature of Obamacare was ‘death panels’.

    You call them what they are, not what they’d like to think of themselves as. In this case, ‘misogynistic arseholes’ fits better than ‘rights advocate’.

  10. Timid Atheist says

    I gotta admit, seeing my handle in your blog post gave me a little thrill.

    I’m glad my words could add some happiness to your day, Jen. And I’m glad there are so many others who feel the same way I do. It’s things like this that make me feel closer to the Atheist/Skeptical community. And that is a good thing in my book.

    Keep up the awesome writing and just being an awesome person in general.

  11. says

    I’d also like to chime in with a “thank you”. Blag Hag was the first atheist blog I ever read. I came here by way of SomethingPositive and Randy Milholland, and was just fascinated that there was this whole atheist community that I hadn’t even imagined existed. Thank you for catching my attention and sparking my interest!

  12. says

    I’d like to add my voice to the praise for Jen’s feminist awareness raising.

    I’ve never considered myself anything other than a defender of equality for women, but the likes of Jen, Greta and PZ have made me see how much my white male privilege coloured my thinking about many things, particularly feminism, equality, gender-bias and gendered slurs (a hard habit to break, despite my best efforts).

    I was raised by a father who, wonderful man though he was (I miss him dearly), thought it was acceptable to point out an attractive girl and embarrass me with comments like “she’s alright for practicing on”, or “saves spoiling a good one”. He wasn’t averse to helping my mum with cooking, cleaning, washing up etc, but my parents divided the household tasks along pretty clear ‘traditional’ gender roles. My father spent most of his formative years in the Royal Navy, and working in male-dominated industries after that, both of which are reasons (but not excuses) for this sort of thinking. I wish he was still here so that we could debate these issues over a pint (something I lacked the knowledge or confidence to do when he was alive).

    It has taken me many years of hard thought to put away this kind of patriarchal thinking, so that I can hopefully raise my own children to judge everyone by their character alone. So thank you Jen for playing such a formative role not only in my education, but in the future lives of my children too.

  13. Chris Lawson says

    You’re kidding, aren’t you? Do you have the faintest idea what MRAs say? Try looking at some MRA blogs and I think you will understand why MRA and feminist are mutually exclusive.

  14. Chris Lawson says

    I understand what you’re saying, ewan, and I agree MRA is a stupid term but it actually describes what these idiots believe, and I think there is some value in using their own label to question why they think men are a terribly oppressed group in need of political activism for more rights. (At the risk of invoking Godwin, we should still call Hitler a Nazi even though the z stands for sozialistische, which grossly misrepresents his actual policies.)

    The “death panel”, conversely, was a huge and venomous libel spread by Palinistas to mobilise hatred and fear against a political movement to make healthcare more affordable to the poor. It needed to be called out for the lie it was.

  15. Chris Lawson says

    Here’s another message of thanks, Jen. Your blog has helped me think more clearly and more compassionately. I can’t think of higher praise than that.

  16. melick says

    Yes blogging made a difference in my life also. It was trough a blog that I’ve dropped my new age background to become a sceptical atheist.

  17. piero says

    Blogs have been invaluable in my education. I’ve learnt about biology, philosophy, sociology, feminism, atheism, secularism, mathematics, logic, geology, cosmology, physics and rational thought in general. I’ve also learnt about their opposites: creationism, male rights activists, sloppy thinking and general stupidity, which is equally valuable.

    FTB blogs are up there with the very best; so is Jerry Coyne’s, Heman Mehta’s, and Luke Muehlhauser’s (now sadly closed). Lesswrong is another invaluable resource.

    I check all these sites on a daily basis; it is getting increasingly difficult, as the number of great blogs seems to be increasing exponentially. But doing it beats reading novels or watching TV. In fact, I don’t own a TV set: the things that interest me are all on YouTube. Long live the Internet! And let’s keep it free, even if it means that jerks will contaminate it with their own blogs and sites.

  18. Georgia Sam says

    Jen, here’s my 2 cents worth on why your blog is influential: You are obviously very intelligent and have a conscience; your posts are well-written, well-reasoned, and entertaining; you don’t go severely negative on anybody unless they clearly deserve it; and your writing reflects a kind of nerdy sense of humor that appeals to a lot of people. I can’t speak for others, but those are the main reasons I read your blog every day.

  19. Tom Singer says

    It’s worth noting that there are, in fact, issues on which men can advocate for their rights as a gender without being misogynists (at least, in my opinion). I don’t want to stir up an argument on the topic, but I think it’s possible to advocate for more equal custody of children in divorces, for example, without hating women.

  20. says

    Thank you for blogging. This blog has become important to me, along with a handful of others.

    My view of, well, lots of things was once dominated by filtering through empty- and poison-headed media. Since I started reading blogs I can learn about science from actual (field-specific) scientists, atheism from actual atheists, and feminism from actual feminists and so on. No surprise things look different when you engage the actual people instead of someone else’s opinion of them.

    Every once in a while I see a news report that blogging is passe’. To the contrary blogging cuts out the interpretive middlemen and connects me directly to people I would never have the opportunity to meet, let alone hear from every day.

  21. thecollaboratrix says

    It wouldn’t work. The other MRAs would fry him alive for being a “mangina.”

    I’m sorry, but having read a lot of MRA stuff (and not just the posts that get quoted on Manboobz), I have yet to meet an MRA that did not base his thinking on misogynistic principles.

  22. says

    I am currently enrolled in a Women’s Psychology class at my University. I had a midterm recently and over half the exam answers I was able to answer thanks to this blog.

    You do great work Jen. I even suggested your blog to my prof as a result.

    I also started actually being vocal about my atheism thanks to this blog. It is also why I came out to my parents (catholics) as an atheist, because I realized it was nothing to be ashamed of.

  23. says

    I think you can still call him a feminist. I think a lot of feminist men are more aware of sexism directed towards both genders. By examining how sexism affects one gender, they see how it effects their own.

  24. says

    I’ve only read feminist blogs that were written by women. And whenever a man says something about how this injustice (what ever the blog was about) applys to men too, they get bombarded with “What about the menz” comments. Which I can understand. But men need to express themselves too.

    So they form groups where men can do this. This of course is much more likely to attract men who are very angry and bitter. Then before you know it the name of that group is used as an insult.

    The good guys are shamed into not being apart of that group because they don’t want to feel like an arsehole. They don’t want to come across as me me me, so they don’t want bring up sexism towards men in the feminst blogs. So it kinds of feels like they are just being silenced.

    Oh and when I say “they” I pretty much mean this is how I’m starting to feel.

    Now let’s see how hateful the replies will be.

  25. ewan says

    And whenever a man says something about how this injustice (what ever the blog was about) applys to men too, they get bombarded with “What about the menz” comments. Which I can understand. But men need to express themselves too.

    I really don’t understand that sort of behaviour; it seems to be to be entirely destructive. This isn’t (or shouldn’t be) about men on one side, women on the other, and adding up who has it worse. Even if it were, that would still be the same “Shut up about this problem here because this other problem there is bigger.” argument that was soundly trashed in the whole ‘Dear Muslima’ debacle.

    A lot of the time we’re all talking about the same inequalities anyway – the lazy assumption that women are ‘nurturing’ that makes it harder for women to be taken seriously in technical or scientific fields, or almost any powerful position at all, is the same one that gives rise to that differential in custody rates, and makes people freak out about men that want to be primary teachers (or, these days, apparently do anything at all in vague proximity to children).

    These things aren’t “women’s issues” or “mens problems” – they’re problems for all of us, and dividing ourselves or our problems along gender lines is just plain silly.

  26. thecollaboratrix says

    NSWATM is actually a really good blog. It’s the only one I’ve found so far that tackles mens’ issues and sometimes critiques feminism without resorting to bile and misogyny. I recommend it.

  27. says

    Now all Matt has to do is clip off his testicles, and send them to you.

    Get a hold of PZ Myers, who will be eager to help Matt out with that task of liberation, I’m sure.

  28. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    There was one on Pharyngula a few days ago. They are out there. But those few who call themselves MRAs because they are genuinely trying to help other men deal with custody issues (that seems to be the main thing that draws them in) tend to be rather unaware of how deep the misogyny runs in the MRA community.

  29. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    “Former fetus”? Why not “future corpse”? It’s equally accurate. And meaningless.

  30. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    You tell him, “Sexism is a phenomenon that encompasses cultural and institutional discrimination. Therefore what you call sexism against men isn’t really that. It’s prejudice. And it’s often caused by the patriarchy, so feminism is a perfect way to combat that prejudice against men.”

    PZ Myers is a feminist. Crommunist is a feminist. Lousy Canuck is a feminist. David Carrier is, I believe, a feminist. So, right here at FTB, you’ve already got a wealth of male feminists.

  31. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    “Now let’s see how hateful the replies will be.”

    Stop poisoning the well. I wasn’t feeling at all annoyed by you until I got to that comment. Make your point and stand by it. Don’t play victim games, it only makes you look pathetic and insecure in your own beliefs.

  32. SallyStrange: bottom-feeding, work-shy peasant says

    I sometimes refer to them as “male supremacists,” which is accurate, but people often don’t know what I mean by it.

  33. says

    Ania Bula is a typical example of the lapsi, now atheist, and the current failure of the Canadian Catholic Church to effectively evangelize her members.

    Usually when I’m presented with a former Catholic, often hostile, usually odious, I quickly try to establish that person’s lack of effective knowledge of the Faith. After discovering where she/he is coming from (in terms of outlook) I then gear my questions accordingly. And then I always call upon God in silent prayer, because nothing will ever happen without God’s involvement.

    I might ask:

    Why can’t women ever be priests? Why is artificial contraception always wrong? Is social justice the same thing as the Gospel? Why do far more Protestants/Evangelicals than Catholics become atheists, and how does that directly relate to the way they interpret the Bible? What are the parables of Jesus really about? How do the Dead Sea Scrolls prove Martin Luther was wrong? Why is Mary so important to Catholic theology? Whatever happened to the Arc of the Covenant? Can you show me on a current world map‚ the location of the former Garden of Eden? Where on earth is the skull of Adam, the first man, to be found, today, in our midst? Etc.

    Long story short, when not even one of these posed questions is adequately answered or even attempted, I always say something like,

    “So you didn’t really know the Faith, did you? That’s why you can’t answer any of these questions? You left what you didn’t know…so that’s what happened, right?

    It’s important to establish that one is dealing with an ignoramus, and not one knowledgable in the Faith. These encounters usually happen in a social setting and others (of good will) who witness the encounter will often follow up with their own questions, even if they don’t know me.

    Another thing to mention, all those people who left the Church stopped praying—or never prayed.

    They didn’t listen to the instruction of God. They have only themselves to blame for their lack of faith. They didn’t give God, the benefit of the doubt. They didn’t work through their doubt.

    If only they had said, “Lord, I believe…help my unbelief.”

  34. Elerena says

    And I’m sure you can answer that same litany of detailed questions for, say, the Norse pantheon, the greek mythos, the Hindus, Judaism, Islam, Shinto, Buddhism, the ancient Egyptian gods, the Mayans, or the hundreds of others, right?

    You don’t need to understand the specifics of what makes your brand of mythology special if the objection is to the basic premise.

  35. Utakata, pink pigtailed Gnome of death says

    I smell socks. (And not those of ewan’s and Sally’s I’ll add.)

  36. Utakata, pink pigtailed Gnome of death says

    Matt doesn’t need those removed unlike you do. Since in your case they seem to be attached to base of your brain stem and have appeared to replace your left and right hemispheres of your brain…

    …in all seriousness though, the failure to Canadian Catholic Church effectively evangelize is that they have members such as yourself reminding us why we should never step 5000 meters near it…especially when you think like that. So thanks, and keep up that good work.

  37. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    To echo Ms. Cutter’s post, thank you, obvious misogynist, for making clear the link between misogyny, religion, and the Forced Birth Brigade, once again.

    It must be terrifying for you to see men not damaged by hatred having successful interactions with women. And doubly so, since the people not damaged by the same hatred that hobbles you are atheists. It puts more dents in that fragile, fickle, flimsy faith you try to hard to pretend is solid.

    Poor thing. I pity you.

  38. says

    @SallyStrange

    “Stop poisoning the well. I wasn’t feeling at all annoyed by you until I got to that comment.”

    Yes you are right, that did come across as a bit pathetic. I was just kind of bracing myself. I was pleasantly surprised by the responses.

    @secha

    I’ve read the FAQ of that site and it looks great. Just what I needed to read. Thanks.

  39. ischemgeek says

    @Dream of Sleeping: My guess? People have run into the “what about the menz” situation so much that even a, “I know, right? And this other situation that affects men more than women is also not cool!” triggers the “grr!” response.

    The other issue that can irritate a lot of people (myself included, depending on my mood) is that depending on the situation and what’s being discussed, it can feel like you’re trying to redirect the conversation to something that affects you, personally. That’s your priviledge showing. I have it happen too, which is why on Crommunist’s blog, I’ve had occasion to delete entire comments before I post them, because I realize that my comment is trying to make it about me as a white person, when he’s talking about race issues that aren’t damn well about me. I can still comment and make input to the discussion, but I have to make an effort to check my privilege at the door, and if I screw up, I need to realize that the problem is probably with me, not with the people irritated with me and so the appropriate response is to ask how I screwed up, apologize and make an effort not to screw up that way in the future.

    … Which is not to say that the guys shouldn’t gripe about how sexism hurts them. They should. It’s justified. I get pissed off that my uncle can’t get custody of his kid despite his ex being a child-abandoning drug-addicted alcoholic con artist with a rap sheet as long as my arm (and he’s justifiably pissed that his having a Y chromosome apparently makes him less competent a parent than an alcoholic drug addict who will disappear on her five-year-old for days at a time).

    But at the same time, if the conversation is about, say, the treatment of female rape victims by police and hospitals, it`s not exactly the most appropriate time in the world to point out that women can be rapists, too, and how male rape victims are treated as a joke. Nearly everyone here knows that, but that`s not what the conversation is about, and to change to topic is an attempt at derailing (whether intentional or not) and sends the message that the poster thinks that female rape victims aren`t as important as male rape victims, and that female rapists are more important and vile than male ones (whether the poster actually thinks this or not). I might say that a comment of the form “[anecdote] so I can relate” wouldn’t be amiss, though others may disagree with me.

    I guess my point is that it’s not a cut-and-dry “People on this side are wrong and people on this other side are right” issue. Both sides should play it by ear, but I do think there’s a difference between a guy accidentally trying to derail because his privilege is showing and an MRA purposefully trying to derail and presenting everything with an underlying message of my rare occurances are more important than your every day and by the way privilege doesn’t exist and if it did it’s only because the womminz don’t realize that men really are superior in every respect.

  40. spdoyle17 says

    @Dream & Sally: Absolutely how I feel. I identify myself as a MRA sympathiser, but I don’t participate in the community because of who’s running the ship and have the loudest voices. I never thought of myself as a possible feminist until coming across this blog, but now I’m starting to identify as one as well because I’m seeing it possible for the more vocal members of both sides to co-exist, it’s just too rare. What drew me to masculism was custody, implied paternity, and divorce law. What drew me to feminism was a sense of justice, equality for equality’s sake, and a total aversion to bs. I want to speak out in favor of equality across the board, I just don’t know a friendly forum. Where’s the community that says, “Hey! Women have it really shitty compared to men, let’s fix that right the **** now, and don’t forget that some male social responsibilities have been codified into law and culture.”? It’s feminism, masculism, and men’s rights all wrapped into one (at least in my eyes.) When I came to ftb (thanks Jen for actually inspiring me to read blogs outside of philly.com, btw,) it took me awhile to figure out what “MRA” was in reference to. I thought it was some in-joke insult, “Male/Misogynist Rapist Asshole,” as I was so oblivious in my personal understanding of masculism.

  41. Svlad Cjelli says

    I was lucky enough (???) to not understand men either, so there was no obvious bigot-camp for me to join.

    Also, I eventually managed to form good interpersonal bonds so that someone I trust could tell me when I was being an ass.
    I wouldn’t have listened to just anybody.

  42. says

    I love your blog and your talks that are posted on youtube. I’m a Neopagan turned Atheist and I have been a feminist for a about five years or so. My decision to become an Atheist was inspired by you and Rebecca Watson and Greta Christina. I am so glad that you’re still out there writing and talking about feminism + Atheism. Thanks!

  43. ewan says

    I sometimes refer to them as “male supremacists,”

    I really like that – it’s simple and literal enough that anyone should be able to understand it even if they’ve not heard it before, there’s the nice resonance with ‘white supremacists’, and it has none of the superficial positivity associate with calling people ‘rights advocates’.

  44. ischemgeek says

    Why can’t women ever be priests? Why is artificial contraception always wrong? Is social justice the same thing as the Gospel? Why do far more Protestants/Evangelicals than Catholics become atheists, and how does that directly relate to the way they interpret the Bible? What are the parables of Jesus really about? How do the Dead Sea Scrolls prove Martin Luther was wrong? Why is Mary so important to Catholic theology? Whatever happened to the Arc of the Covenant? Can you show me on a current world map‚ the location of the former Garden of Eden? Where on earth is the skull of Adam, the first man, to be found, today, in our midst? Etc.

    … Y’know, I debated looking up all the references and doing all the homework that someone without a theology degree would be required to answer these in the way you probably want them answered… however, I’ve decided to answer them in the same condescending attitude with which you posed them:

    1. Because your system is sexist. Or original sin (ie, your justification for your sexism).
    2. Because God (ie, because we said so)
    3. Of course! (except, y’know, for the parts about killing nonbelievers and gays and women who have sex outside of marriage and kids who make fun of bald guys…)
    4. In Canada, it seems that’s not true: Something like a third of self-identified Catholics don’t believe in God, vs 28% of self-identified Protestants. (Ipsos, via Wikipedia). Fun fact: If you count those who identify as religious but still say they don’t believe in God, nearly half of Canadians are athiest, vs 16% who say they have no religious affiliation in Census 2006 (of those 16%, according to Ipsos, about a quarter believe in a God or supernatural but have no religious identity, so that would be about 12% who have no religous adherance and don’t believe in God – your athiests). As for how it relates, I’d guess the authoritarian nature of Catholocism makes for more people going through the motions even after they realize it’s all so much manure.
    5. A mentally ill peasant with delusions of grandeur.
    6. They don’t. They just show that your books have been edited, re-written and altered by committee maybe thousands of times in the past few thousand years.
    7. Because she gave birth to Jeebus and therefore is the very model of a modern major-general womanly ideal.
    8. It probably never existed, but your mythology alleges it was hidden away from the Babylonians, then rediscovered and presumably lost again.
    9. No, and neither can you. Because it never existed.
    10. Are you referring to the Biblical Adam, or the Y-chromosomal Adam? If the first, probably nowhere because he didn’t exist but you guys say either Jerusalem or Golgotha. Y-chromosomal Adam likely lived in Africa, though where and when is not yet certain due to incomplete knowledge of human Y-chromosome lineages. Personally, I’m far more interested in Y-chromosomal Adam since, y’know, he actually existed and can give us clues to how we evolved.

  45. ischemgeek says

    Started to comment to back up what others have said better than me, got sidetracked by a theology troll and went to bed.

    So: Blogs in general hold an important place in the world, of which I think yours is one that is part of the reason for blogs being so important.

    In other words, what the others have said about appreciating your work, only not as eloquently in part because I woke up 10 minutes ago.

  46. says

    Before you make assumptions about my being a typical “lapsi” as you put it: I studied Catechism. I grew up in a Polish Roman Catholic Church not the “Canadian” catholic church.

    I also was very devout. I was the cantor for my church and several others and an alter server at both of my churches. I was a model Catholic for many MANY years. What finally opened my eyes was reason and the realization that ALL of the responses to ALL of the questions you pose (which by the way I CAN answer according to Catholic doctrine) don’t stand up under critical evaluation and are supremely sexist.

    And please don’t call me a laspi. A lapse implies a temporary failure in memory or judgment. My Atheism is neither but is rather the result of years of careful examination. If anything my previous catholicism should be called a lapse from reason.

    As for your “ignaramus” comment: my definition of an ignoramus is someone who infers an entire psychological and mental profile from nothing more than two points of information that are ultimately insignificant to their overall hypothesis. You hear atheist and former Catholic and assume a lack of knowledge of the subject matter. A statement that further does not stand up to ridicule in consideration of the fact that most people who turn to atheism do so after critical analysis of the subject matter who ultimately reach a conclusion due to insignificant evidence of the questioned hypothesis (ie. God).

    A lapsed catholic is someone who uses the label catholic while not subscribing to any of the implied social behaviours (e.g. Going to Church, Not using birth control, etc.) but has not given any critical thought regarding the existence of a god. Also known as a cultural Catholic or really just a modern Catholic.

  47. says

    …ah, no…there are no detailed questions for the casual religions or for mythology.

    Just as science minds in Darwin’s day once believed the cell was just a simple ‘thing, the moderns know better. What one sees at the simplest level is VAST interactive complexity with a remarkable beauty.

    Christianity doesn’t claim to be another religion; it claims to be THE religion.

    One can hide behind the empty and lazy maxim that all religions are the same, in the same way some women say all men are bastards, or some men all women are gold-diggers etc. It’s easy to be that dismissive. But the truth always breaks through, and demands an honest re-evaluation.

    But you’re not ready to roll up your sleeves. I doubt you ever will be.

  48. says

    Very good chem guy…all your answers were wrong! Except one. I will comment on the one you got partially right, answer #10.

    Golgotha, that’s right.

    Y-chromosomal Adam, who cares about him? Biblical Adam is all that matters. Non-concurrent Y-Adam, Mito-Eve…their ancestors mating, infusion of souls, and viola—humanity over time.

    I have heard atheists rail against the Faith because Cain, after killing Abel,expresses concern about being killed by townsfolk for his crime of murder. Where did those people—in a town, even—come from? See that proves there were other peoples about, besides descendants of Adam and Eve.

    Nope.

    Just because the other children of Adam and Eve are not mentioned in the Bible, does not mean there weren’t any. In fact there was a lot, and there were multiple sets of man-female twins to give human population an explosive burst from the onset.

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