Brandenburg is back

In case you’re curious, JE Brandenburg, the fellow who claims to have evidence of nuclear war between intelligent aliens on Mars, is commenting at length on my article criticizing his silly hypothesis. His arguments so far are 1) he’s a physicist, 2) there are radioactive deposits on Mars, 3) there was once lots of water and oxygen on Mars, 4) the mediocrity principle and the Fermi paradox, therefore…aliens.

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At last! Someone agrees with me!

For the last several years, the most common strain of complaint I see in my mailbox is the “atheism only means you don’t believe in gods” comment. Sometimes they try to say it politely, more often it’s accompanied by howls and threats and fuck-shit-cock profanity. It’s been like this for a long, long time — I recall hanging out on alt.atheism on usenet and getting exasperated because the whole forum was about dogma, and that dogma was that you got to shut down any discussion about complex social issues that you didn’t like by declaring atheism to be totally values neutral (the other thing they talked about that drove me mad was the distinction between “strong” and “weak” atheism, and how significant the difference between “I don’t believe gods exist” and “I believe gods don’t exist” was. Jesus. Hair-splitting atheologians.)

Anyway, the main thing people hate me for now is my declaration that atheism has implications and consequences beyond being an abstract philosophical statement that lets you skip church on Sundays, and that further, among those implications is a requirement for those good ol’ Enlightenment values of equality and justice (and that we do more than pay lip service to them, unlike many of those 17th century writers who argued likewise). It’s reassuring that a lot of commenters here at FtB are sympathetic to those ideas, but really, sometimes it’s a little depressing to discover how many other atheists elsewhere turn purple and start screaming if you dare to imply that women, for instance, are fully autonomous, thinking individuals, and that the Biblical tradition of treating them as secondary servants to The Man is invalid.

So it’s kind of a relief to see that James Croft agrees with me, even if he is at that blah pudding of religious pandering, Patheos.

And I think that responding to a post about the relationship between social justice and Humanism with forceful assertions about the values-free nature of atheism is bullshit.

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People are skilled at lying to themselves

Both Alex and Heina have excellent articles on the association of religion with LGBTQ people. It’s an absurdity that Christianity accommodates both Fred Phelps and Marcella Althaus-Reid, telling us definitively what Jesus’ opinions on homosexuality were, and both of them giving completely contradictory answers. The problem is that Jesus and Mohammed and Moses are completely malleable imaginary authority figures who can be invoked to justify anything — Jesus simultaneously blesses the peacemakers and comes with a sword in that muddled book of myths, the Bible, so pacifists and warmongers are both happy to adopt his ‘philosophy’. It’s not at all surprising, then, that both queer folk and gay-haters happily quote their holy books to justify whatever the hell they believe.

But it’s dishonest. And it invalidates the holy books — they’re obviously just Rorschach blots for any gullible brain looking for an authoritarian fallacy to back up their bullshit.

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