No Regrets in The Struggle

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE FtBlogger atop all the main page categories of FtB articlesGimme the prize!

Anyway, I just flew in from Social Justice and boy are my arms tired.  I mean airplane food, amirite?  Wocka wocka.

Some of my articles in this series have been quasi-thoughtful, but I’m running out of power.  What can I do?  Social justice, social justice, what can I say about that?

You know, there’s an idea you would sometimes see come up in comments in the early days of the Deep Rifts 2.0, when many of us were becoming “woke” for the first time.  It was a sense of gratitude that women were bringing to light the way they’d been mistreated, that it was opening up all these other conversations, and that this would give us a chance to become better people.  To truly realize the equality we’d always just assumed was part of the movement, in contradistinction to the naked sexism of christian fundies.  I just want to bring that gratitude back for a moment.

I love that we broke up the atheist movement.  The crudlords and fogies are still out there, somewhere, embarrassing themselves in Elon’s Thunderdome.  But they forever have to sit there in full awareness that they have been rebuked.  That a sizeable chunk of their former bedfellows just said “Fuck Y’all” and never looked back.  Everybody said their piece, then went their separate ways.

Can they even understand what we feel?  I don’ t think they can.  Dawkins can only conceive of this as us being led astray, bewitched by the sorcery of women in glasses and colorful hair.  He doesn’t know how good it is to look at society as it really is, the same way he’d look at the physical world as it really is, and know what you’re going to do with that, do with your time here.  We’re gonna be good, as good as we can be.  We’ll make mistakes but we’ll learn, because yeah, we woke up to the importance of social justice.

I’m still proud to be an SJW.  Power on, comrades.

The Ivory Tower

I won’t say I woke up this morning with a mission because that would imply I slept last night, but now I’m trying to write an article in each of the categories of FtB articles. There are some categories in which I rarely appear.  I’m a BFA, I shouldn’t talk about science.  But I’m gonna talk about science.

I think Chunderf00l said it best, when he did a video about how Ivory Tower shouldn’t be derogatory for science boyz because ivory towers are cool and shiny and hold up THA TROOF for all to see.  Then he switched gears to chortling through his tears about Anita Sarkeesian for a decade.  Yewchoob atheism, amirite?  Is this thing on?

Science can be real cool.  I think my favorite blog ever has to be Tetrapod Zoology.  The universe, especially at the very local level of this planet, is chock full of interesting shit.  Some of it is beautiful and inspiring, and so there’s a tendency to latch onto that, as the tool to promote a sort of positive atheism.  We don’t need the majesty of some false vision of glorious afterlife, we can marvel at the world we inhabit to feel inspired.

But science is always a mixed bag.  Darwin knew it.  Nature is full of fucked up repugnant shit.  There are animals that can only reproduce like the fucken Alien xenomorph, their entire existence predicated on nightmarish cruelty.  Not just a species here or there, but clades full of species that do the same nasty nasty.  And within our own lives, we can marvel at human beauty and compassion, but are also stuck in a species with fucking millions upon millions of actual fascist motherfuckers.  Brains so ugly they can turn you to stone.

I don’t think there is an inspiring or magical or fun version of atheism, frankly.  Sorry, Ivory Tower.  Sorry, Science.  Philosophical materialism has one solitary advantage over all religions.  It’s true, and it is brave to look at things as they actually are, to deal with the world you actually live in.  That bravery makes it possible to do greater things than any religious person is capable of – to give of yourself fully knowing how precious every second of your brief life is – but it doesn’t guarantee that we will do those great things.  Many of us are just unreconstructed shitbirds.  But we love us some science!

The Religious Stage

I was gradually failing high school in the ’90s and in an effort to make up credits I took some college classes in the summer.  My Philosophy 81 course (lol) was kinda influential on me, had me calling myself an agnostic instead of an atheist for like, twenty-five years?

Anyway, that class surveyed the landscape of Western philosophy without getting into a lot of depth on any of it.  As part of that, we looked at the recurring themes in the field.  There was the search for “substance,” the way to live a “good” life, logicking one’s way to god, and more.

More than one philosopher had ideas that a human life moves through set stages, like we’re all on our own Hero’s JourneyKierkegaard got a closer look, and the last of his stages was The Religious Stage.  I don’t remember particulars, but the idea was something like, when you’ve done all the big things in life and all that’s left is to look upon death, you will inevitably come back to god.

I had my sixteenth birthday in that class, was obnoxiously confident about my own philosophical materialism, and didn’t cotton to being told I would someday fogey into submission to the Invisible Tyrant.  What would you do?

At least the professor didn’t act like all these dead white guys had the truth on lock, unlike my Philo 101 teacher at the art school, who – fucking absurdly – found Descartes’ ontological argument completely irrefutable.  I rattled off three counter arguments in three minutes and he had the placid, glazed, uncomprehending expression of a true fucking zombie.

But no, I’m closer to fifty than forty.  Jeezis here I come…

Negative Revelation

People will say they believe in god because of a convincing personal experience – the argument from personal revelation.  Interestingly (to me at least) googling this phrase yields mostly atheists talking about debate, but one highly ranked result is theist-on-theist bloodshed.  Some creep saying why “jesus personally told me it’s cool to be trans” is not legitimate because it’s an argument from personal revelation.

As for me?  I long ago decided logic and reason and debate are not much use against theism, or even advocating atheism.  Motivated reasoning is strong.  Your case can be ironclad and even if the theist is stumped, in that moment, they weren’t convinced in their feelings, which is the only place that ultimately matters.  Time erodes the momentary uncertainty you induced, and within a week they don’t even remember the particulars of what you said.

And even when somebody does say they were convinced by logic, which came first?  The logic or the feeling of the logic’s legitimacy?  There’s a tension in that, and probably more factors that fed into the conversion than the rationale alone.  Not to say you should give that all up forever, just that you understand why it’s not as effective as it should be, if we were purely rational agents.  And more than that, to preface my own personal revelation.

Personal revelation for a theist is a feeling or vision that powerfully convinces them of a god’s reality and effect on their own life.  While as an atheist I would never experience a convincing vision – I’d sooner assume I was having a neurological problem – I can get a powerfully convincing feeling.  If that counts as a personal revelation, then I have absolutely come to atheism by way of personal revelation.

For a lot of years I identified as agnostic, because verifiable knowledge coming from fallible grey matter seems logically impossible to me.  But I had a strong feeling of philosophical materialism, and that feeling alone pushed me away from that shyness.  Yeah, I’m an atheist.  Now the only thing keeping me from saying that with pride is the behavior of famous atheists, haha.

One time when I was homeless child – maybe seven? – my family was temporarily staying in a hotel, and got our hands on some free bibles.  Hey, that’s kind of exciting.  Free stuff.  The thin paper and tiny print was interesting, the bold assertions within more convincing than the mealy-mouthed version that made a pre-school atheist out of me.  So I played at being christian for a few days.  I don’t remember what made that fall away – boredom? – but I do remember it was a thorough rejection in the end.

I’ve always had a strong feeling of the material reality around me, and its indifference to my desires.  Might be why the idea of levitation appeals to me, as a primal emotion that escapes from the otherwise constant feeling of literal gravity.  This feeling has reached peaks, moments of reality so stark and cold that I had no choice but to believe in my heart that god doesn’t exist, that magic doesn’t exist, that humans have no inherent connection that bridges our experience of life – nothing but imagination and the broken working of society.

These are the moments of negative personal revelation, when UnGod came unto me in a cloud of nothing and I received his word and his truth.  I’ve mentioned a few in my blog history, see which ones you remember!  Roughly in order,

One came when I failed to graduate high school, and everyone disappeared into their adult lives, whatever those would be, reminding me that I have no social importance except that which I painstakingly create and maintain.

Several came over the years, whenever the religious tried one-on-one to get me to feel what they feel, in parking lots and bus stops, and almost always in cold dark weather.

One came when I first had major surgery and experienced nonexistence under anesthesia.

One came when Child Protective Services took my first niece from my dad, because the jesus nazis from rural minnesota were more amenable to keeping her dangerous sociopath mom in her life.  That was the most direct confrontation with human evil I ever experienced, and had me dig under my fingernails til they bled.

One came while walking home from work at Pizza Hut, and made a foolish deal with the devil, because the unmagic of the world was so overbearing in that one random moment.

One came when my worst girlfriend ever dumped me and I took it poorly, gradually burning away every romantic instinct I felt until that version of love was fully dead to me.

One came on a vacation I took alone to a cold place in the dead of winter, again well exposed to my complete insignificance.

Loneliness is a recurring theme here.  I wonder that the most religious might be the most socially insulated?  That doesn’t track with the image of the average saint or prophet.  But loneliness, and even sadness, doesn’t count for all of it.  I’ve just had a profoundly, deeply, overpoweringly mundane life.  Not mundane as a synonym for boredom, just for the material, the earthen, the real.  The wildest moments gravity was always with me, telling me what’s up, and more importantly what’s down.

I am an atheist because that’s what my experience of life has told me to be, and nobody was there to give me the cultural static that would drown out or pervert that experience.  Negative revelation.

The Miracle of Faith

Isn’t it miraculous how we religious types can believe in something that runs counter to everything that makes sense in our experience of life?  Isn’t faith amazing?  Sometimes religious people will marvel aloud at how amazing it is that they can believe in super-ghosts, and it’s usually phrased something like that.  Of course, the atheo-skeptic finds that less beautiful than horrifying, seeing the close kinship between religious persuasion and medical woo, con artistry, and trumpism.

(Sometimes the “miracle of faith” is termed more like “the mystery of faith,” to give it the air of an intellectual enterprise, but also one that defies answer, thus shutting down earnest inquiry.  It’s slightly more humble in its way, even if it’s cheap.)

To which progressive theists would have a reasonable counter argument, lovingly provided by our atheist “thought leaders” and their slide into fascism.  Does atheism really afford any protection at all from faulty reason?  If so, should we fear or revile religious thought?  Aside from the fact that argument just doesn’t feel right to me, I can’t say I’m ready to shoot it down.

The conclusion this dialogue is leading me toward is one of total disillusionment with the powers of the human mind.  Just assume everyone, including yourself, is broke as hell in the headpiece, and the best you can hope to do is paw in the dark for a less-than-harmful consensus with your peers.  This, unfortunately, weakens one’s power of persuasion, as people respond more emotionally to bold and reductive statements than positions couched in caveats, asides, and uncertainty.

I don’t love that.  I’d love to spout Universal Truths like a demagogue and rally the warriors to the cause of righteousness.  Shit just tends to be more complicated than that.

Hellstar Reminism

So I got a philosophy for the end of the world inspired by a Junji Ito comic, Hellstar Remina, in some translations just the less fun Remina.  I’ve still never read the comic in English, so it’s based on my visual read of the story.  I’ll soon check out the translation to see what I’ve missed.  At that time, this idea may face some revision.  By the way, all of the spoilers for Hellstar Remina now, because it’s necessary to explaining the moral lesson I take from it.

Like a number of Junji Ito’s horror manga, Hellstar Remina depicts an apocalypse.  The planet Earth and most of its inhabitants don’t get through the story alive.  But this one was especially interesting to me because it shows different ways to respond to a species-level existential threat.  As a storyteller, Ito has long held an interesting tension between humanism and misanthropy – something shared with filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa.  I wonder if this is just an attitude some dark-minded Japanese folks have and a known thing there, or if it’s just something anybody in the world might develop at random.

Basically, the way humans can be quite horrible is displayed unvarnished, or even exaggerated, but compassion and sometimes progressive values come through in other characters within the same story.  This isn’t always as simple as good guys over here, bad guys over there.  People start good, go bad, come back, do it again.  Usually you understand why the bad do what they do – see them as human, even when they end up as literal monsters.  Hard to describe, not always the same.  This might be getting off topic, because good and evil are a little more straightforward in this story than the extended canon of Tomie or Uzumaki.  Whatever, moving on…

The plot.  A scientist announces the discovery of a very abnormal new star in the night sky, with his daughter at the press conference.  I believe he named the star after her, causing an association in the public imagination between the girl and the star.  But pretty quickly, the star is revealed to be a possible threat to the Earth – heading toward it at incredible speed.  Is it a star?  Meanwhile, this doesn’t seem to be public knowledge yet, and Remina the girl has developed a fan club.  In particular she has three suitors.  One is a rich kid that shows her to his cool expensive fallout shelter.  But they seem to do a passable job of not monopolizing her affections yet.

The threat of the hellstar becomes apparent to the public and civic unrest menaces the scientist and his daughter.  Her fan club saves her, for the moment, but she’s separated from her father.  When the star slows down to stick out a giant tongue and gobble up another planet in the solar system, the people of the world go bonkers and come for girl Remina’s blood.  They kill the a couple of fan club guys and torture her for a bit.  Her father is killed.

The fanboys help her escape but they fall to infighting.  Seems they got a touch of the same craze as the rest of the world.  One of them has the sense of self to feel ashamed and leaves, but he didn’t have the presence of mind to realize that he left her undefended with the worse guy.  (He shows up later as just another murderer.)  Worse guy is the rich kid, and he hauls her back to the fancy shelter.  He tries to force himself on her, but his parents object.  They just want her dead like the rest of the world.  Mom slaps her around, then the fam drag her out to the crowd.

The story splits here between rich family and Remina.  Rich family theorizes that if they go to live on the Hellstar like fleas, it won’t notice them and destroy them like the rest of the world, so they pack up in a rocket ship and skate.  Back on earth, girl Remina is taken by the people of Earth, who have united in a massive doomsday cult, led by KKK-lookin’ creeps with torches.  She escapes them briefly, running into a solitary homeless man who has no idea what’s going on.  The two of them are tied to either side of the same cross that carries the burned remains of her father.

In space, the rich family set foot on the Hellstar and transform into melty piles of twisted bullshit.  HS Remina opens a second eyeball and licks the Earth.  This causes gravity to go haywire.  The cultists had set a pyre beneath girl Remina’s cross, but the cross gets lifted away.  A cultist cuts Remina loose to abscond with her.  The gravity of the Hellstar and Earth are dueling, which has people able to leap around like they have super strength.  Don’t get at me on the physics of this.  The cultist grabs Remina by the legs and smashes her against the sides of a broken building, like trying to dust a rug.

But he cut the homeless guy loose when he snatched Remina, and that guy comes to save her with roundhouse kicks and such.  Together they flee the cultists.  But as they’ve gotten used to the crazy light gravity, so have the cultists, and now they are being chased by what seems like everybody in the world, all crying for her blood in different languages, wielding any weapon they can find.  They’re flying through the air in a massive swarm.

Gravity shifts again.  The homeless guy and Remina seem to luck out, while the rest of humanity is dashed to the ground, creating an ocean of blood.  Girl Remina blacks out and wakes up in the fancy shelter.  The homeless guy and a few random non-murderer kids found their way into the shelter, and as Hellstar Remina devoured the earth, somehow the shelter was one of the crumbs that broke free to hurtle lonesome through space.  People are surprisingly celebratory about this.

Why are they happy?  They got away from however many billion murderers, and a planet that was just munched like popcorn.  But the room surely doesn’t have the resources to sustain their lives forever.  They’re surely going to die.  And that could well be all of us.  The story ends there.  What do you take from that?

I say, if everybody in the world is doing bad shit, be the one person who isn’t.  If we’re all gonna die, be kind to the people you are with, right to the end.  Ruin is living for hate, the only goodness possible in life is what we make by being kind in the ways we can, in the time we have.  Something like that.  Hellstar Reminism.

One could easily take different lessons from the story, perhaps worse ones.  And maybe there are explicit textual things I cannot understand from reading the comic book by image alone.  I’ll find out soon enough, which is why I’m spelling out this philosophy now before it gets altered by improved understanding of the source.  So there you go.

Remember This? Or Am I Losing It?

I seem to have constructed a memory from whole cloth.  The internet is not backing me up on this, so it has to have been my imagination.  But it’s so specific.  This isn’t something like KinderTrauma, where it’s an old TV show I dimly remember being exposed to at the age of five.  This is something that should show up on atheist sites, and their opposition.  Something in our domain.

I remembered creationists editing Archaeopteryx into an edition of the bible.  Like there was a list of birds, there was one with an uncertain modern translation, and they just slipped it in there next to hoopoes and thrushes or something.  I even remember having seen one of these bibles, dimly.  But I can’t find jack shit about this on the internet.

Am I losing it?  Discuss my inadequacies in the comments.

Organized Atheism Also at Fault

I’m pretty quick to point out that terves very much share blame for the recent losses on women’s rights.  Transphobia was one of the levers that helped buoy fascists and autocrats in elections across the globe recently.  But this isn’t a terf blog network, it’s an atheist one.  That’s our beat.  So to that end, let me just reiterate this point I’ve made before.

Organized atheism should always have been a force for progressivism, against the barbarity of religious belief.  But nope.  The idea of listening to even the mildest of feminist critique caused all our talking heads to leap headlong into bed with fascists, to promote the movements that ultimately led to Trump’s election and the current slate in the supreme court.  DickDawk can whine all he wants that he’s liberal, that we should believe that counts for fuckin’ anything, while he engages in piteous dickriding transphobia and platforms the hero of incel mass shooters everywhere.

There is a straight line from elevatorgate to gamergate to altright white supremacy to cheeto hitler to the end of Roe v Wade.  Terfs did their part, but we were in the game of ruining civilization as we know it when those bitches were barely getting started.  We had a lot of friends along the way in building this theocracy, but we should never lose sight of our part in subverting our own ostensible ends.  Like terfs – they should never be allowed to forget they helped set feminism back eighty years, and we should never be allowed to forget we set atheism back as well.

My own part was small.  I let a subtle brew of ableism and islamophobia drive me to participate in boosting new atheism, participating in the comments and the discourse, not doing enough to change the rotten core of the movement or start a better one.  I’ll own that.  I wonder if the narcissistic thunk leaders of our defunct movement will ever process the same, ever feel that as they fade from the earth.  I doubt it.

“You Are Loved”

I saw “You are loved” on a church sign.  Not the first time I’ve seen this sentiment but it’s the first time I can remember this occurring to me.  What’s being proposed here is that the all powerful super creator of humanity and the universe has particular care for each of us, as individuals.  Anything good that happens to us comes from that care, anything bad doesn’t matter because he’ll make up for it when you’re dead.

What I realized is that this lets all xtians off the hook from genuinely caring about anyone.  If young jeezy is taking care of everybody, we don’t have to do that at all.  He exhorted people to care for the poor and the ill, but clearly that is just a hobbyist pursuit – not a genuine responsibility – because god’s love is enough.

That would be a good logical excuse for why xtians hate social services, but I suspect there’s no reasoning behind it.  Rather they just don’t want to pay for the care of others and assume their religion endorses any given thing they feel as part of their conservative identity, without any need for actual knowledge of the words in the holy books.  Much like “geeks” assume they’re intelligent because it’s part of the geek social identity rather than any useful metric (assuming such are even possible).

That’s all.

If You Hail Satan, Come Correct

Woof.  I wanted to like The Satanic Temple and Lucien Greaves, but I randomly came across the real scoop on what low-down fash-friendly piles of shit they really are.  Representing myself as satanic, I feel the need to address this, and while I’m at it, help fix some of the harm they are doing in the world.

To start with, I need to make clear that I do not believe every member of TST is fascist or a scumbag.  Some just haven’t gotten the facts yet, and some who have feel too invested to acknowledge the truth.  To those of you who are good people, I hope you work things out.

But I also hope you can realize you don’t need TST and can represent Satan in your own ways.  There is absolutely nothing stopping you from walking away from TST en masse and starting your own Satanism.  Maybe it starts small, a facebook group or a twitter account, but it can turn into something just as big and certainly better.

 

Eugenics and Nazi Friendliness

I was ill-informed and had little idea that modern satanists were so cozy with antisemitism and nazism until I fell down this unfortunate rabbit hole.  What in the name of Hell is the point of rejecting Christ only to wallow in the shit ideals of his worst fanboys?

Lucien Greaves has made some half-assed apologies for antisemitic comments made on a radio show in 2003 as that came to light recently, and in the narrow context of that clip one could think of his comments as being more antitheist than antisemitic – he was saying jewish religious belief is his problem and jewish blood is not, in disagreement with the hosts of the radio show he was on.

But broaden that context just a little bit more, and things look much worse.  Why did he not rebuke the whole proceedings when his pals on the show went full sieg heil?  Why didn’t he bail?  Because he knew they were nazis going in, and he was OK with that.

The show itself was the “Might Is Right 24-Hour Radio Special” in honor of a new printing of racist / antisemitic book “Might is Right” – and Greaves (as “Doug Mesner”) was invited because he illustrated the book.  Whatever terms or qualifiers he’s used for it (he had a site called “dysgenics” as late as 2018), Greaves has wholeheartedly endorsed eugenics on many occasions.  As recently as the founding of The Satanic Temple ten years after his appearance on that show, he was willingly associating with and involving the sieg heiling host of that very broadcast.

(Quick aside – the event hosts may or may not have identified as nazis and they didn’t actually say “sieg heil” but I don’t give an earthly shit about distinguishing between flavors of antisemite and the finer points of their ideologies.  Another guest on the show was prominent KKK figure Tom Metzger – in a segment of the show Greaves (Doug Misicko in the transcript) happily participated in.  Y’all are nazis; eat shit and die at your soonest convenience, thanks.)

(Aside Deux – because this is an atheist blog network and the “thought leaders” of modern atheism seem to think some nice guy version of eugenics, as a concept, can be salvaged for good, I should emphasize that ain’t true.  I’m not up to linkspamming support of that point, but feeling tempted to give nazi ideas an inch of your mental bandwidth should give you great pause.)

Anyone who would oppose the hypocrisies and injustices of cultural christianity has to decide for theirself what they will propose in the wake of christianity’s defeat.  Because you’re not going to defeat xtianity at large, of course (only they can do that to themselves lol), but you are going to win some hearts and minds away from the pews and pulpits.  What are you giving them in exchange for what they’ve given up?

For some opposing xtianity is enough, like dictionary atheists who are iconoclasts without a care.  LaVey was in the pitiful thrall of Ayn Rand and his satanic bible owes its soul to her “objectivism.”  His Church of Satan and the satanic movement generally from that point on carried those values of cruelty and greed forward.  This was the movement from which Greaves emerged, only differing in that he was more fully atheistic than his predecessors.  Or maybe just more ableist.  From what I’ve seen, ableism was always his biggest hobbyhorse.

OK, greed as a value does seem to oppose the charity spoken of by Jesus, so satanic, right?  Wrong.  If we were just going to oppose xtianity as described in the bible, maybe.  But I don’t give a fuck about that.  I want to oppose xtianity as it is practiced in my culture, and all the harm it does – most of which is fueled by greed.  If you’re not doing that – fighting for the ability of people to enjoy life, fighting oppression – what’s the fucking point?

In their stances on gay rights and reproductive rights and religious freedom, The Satanic Temple has lured in thousands of progressive people – taken their time and money.  But was this truly deserved?  The organization is rotten at its core for the same reason the gnu atheist movement was: the founders centered ableism, the ability to feel superior to the “stupid” xtians, which is just about the quickest path to eugenics and nazism.

To this day, there are high ups within TST that have a history of consorting with nazi clowns like Mike Cernovich and Milo Yiannapolis.  TST have gone on record as being anti-antifa, and you know what you get when those antis zero out.

 

Reproductive Rights People Hate Them

Just because anti-abortion scumbags have had a great deal of success lately does not mean that the defenders of reproductive health have been failing at their jobs, only that fascists have been achieving horrific victories across the board.  But The Satanic Temple has opted to use that messaging to suck up activist dollars – to claim “We must accept the fact that traditional efforts to protect reproductive rights have failed.”

And what are they doing with the pro-abortion activist dollars?  They’re acting like $cientology in the way they veer between saying they’re a religion and denying that depending on what’s most advantageous in a given financial or legal situation, and not being at all transparent about where the money goes.

 

SLAPP Suit

All these issues and more led some Satanists in my part of the country to rebel, to make public critique of the organization.  The law protects criticism of religious organizations, but they’re still suing for business harm – a business when it suits them, a religion when it doesn’t.  The apostates are just regular people facing tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses they can’t afford.  It’s a SLAPP suit working as intended, and you can see why I might find that something worth fighting against.

Support the Queer Satanic Apostasy.  Help defend them against the SLAPP suit.

 

Full Disclosure:

TST and FtB have both employed the same lawyer in free speech cases, a man who is a strong partisan on that issue, but easy to find very negative articles about.  That lawyer is specifically named as one of the reasons for dissenters leaving TST.  Due to our prior relationship with him, I will not be addressing that one specific issue here and prefer it not be discussed in this space, except to say I understand and very much sympathize with those concerns.