Homosexuality and evolution

I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on those last youtube videos. There were some good ones, but they were also laced with the usual grunting assholes complaining about gays and “trannies” and quoting the Bible and making racist remarks about Africans. Let us pass over those contemptible arguments; there’s no dealing with them rationally. Spit and move on.

But there’s another flavor of argument that annoys me to no end: people who cite science and evolution to support their ignorant misconceptions about human nature. I want to address two, one anti-gay and the other pro-gay, both wrong.

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America did it!

John Oliver continues to impress. Here’s a discussion of the wretched anti-gay policies being implemented in Uganda, and the US’s role in propagating them.

I don’t understand why Scott Lively isn’t in jail — we have no laws against criminal ventures in foreign countries? Nothing about fostering foreign corruption? Can we, at the very least, take his passport away?

Oliver continues his interview with Pepe Julian Onziema, who is also very impressive. It’s kind of Uganda to send us an ambassador from the Land of Decent Human Beings.

Victor Stenger has died

I am saddened by the news: Victor Stenger was a hardcore physicist with the sensibilities of a liberal arts professor. His books and essays are excellent — he always presented the physics without compromise, but he also explained how we came to understand what we know. I like my science leavened with that historical perspective, and he always delivered.

God and the Atom, for example, starts with ancient Greek philosophy and works its way forward…and convincingly argues that our earliest views of physical science were godless, and that only later did the mystery religions creep in and taint productive avenues of thinking. His very latest, God and the Multiverse, is sitting on my desk right now. I’m very much looking forward to reading it.

I got to meet Vic many times — somehow, we seemed to end up as the sciencey pair, one physicist and one biologist, at a lot of atheist conferences. He was also a genuinely nice guy, friendly and fun to talk to, and I was always pleased to see we’d both be at an event. I’m missing him already.

Here’s Vic at Skepticon 3. I have to mention that there are plenty of essays and discussions available at the link to his home page up top.

Overcoming the brainwashing, the propaganda, the lies

There’s that bit in Julia Sweeney’s Letting Go of God in which she tells her mother that she’s an atheist, and her mother replies, “not believing in God is one thing, but an ATHEIST?” — it just tells you how poisoned the word “atheist” had become. It’s gotten better; we’ve been coming out, showing the world we’re just like everyone else, making arguments for a rational, secular morality, and generally working to overcome the prejudice against the label. Imagine an alternative world in which many atheists had followed a different tactic: when ever someone said something disrespectful of atheism, there’d be a mad rush to get their home address and phone number. We’d flood them with threats: if you don’t shut up, we’ll rape your mother and set fire to your house. You’re a whore. I’m going to kill you.

The stigma of atheism would worsen. Now in addition to having a reputation for godlessness (true!), we’d acquire a reputation for truly villainous behavior. People would be even more reluctant to call themselves “atheist”, and only the most vile people would embrace it, worsening the reputation.

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