I may have found a mirror universe


In this essay by John Pavlovitz, a liberal Christian, he makes the argument that the path evangelical Christianity has taken is toxic — that the hatred of Muslims, the contempt for the LGBTQ community, and the rise of celebrity preachers and professional Christians is driving good people away. I have to agree with him, and I think most atheists would agree, that much of the institution of Christianity is purest poison to anyone with a social conscience.

In record numbers, the Conservative American Church is consistently and surely making Atheists—or at the very least it is making former Christians; people who no longer consider organized religion an option because the Jesus they recognize is absent. With its sky-is-falling hand-wringing, its political bed-making, and its constant venom toward diversity, it is giving people no alternative but to conclude, that based on the evidence of people professing to be Godly—that God is of little use. In fact, this God may be toxic.

And that’s the irony of it all; that the very Evangelicals who’ve spent that last 50 years in this country demonizing those who reject Jesus—are now the single most compelling reason for them to do so. They are giving people who suspect that all Christians are self-righteous, hateful hypocrites, all the evidence they need. The Church is confirming the outside world’s most dire suspicions about itself.

With every persecution of the LGBTQ community, with every unprovoked attack on Muslims, with every planet-wrecking decision, with every regressive civil rights move—the flight from Christianity continues. Meanwhile the celebrity preachers and professional Christians publicly beat their breasts about the multitudes walking away from God, oblivious to the fact that they are the impetus for the exodus.

I’m reading it and thinking that gosh, this sounds familiar. It was like looking in a mirror. I think that the path the atheist/skeptic movement has taken is toxic — that the hatred of Muslims, the contempt for the LGBTQ community (and women!), and the rise of celebrity atheists and professional skeptics is driving good people away.

So I have some reassuring news for Mr Pavlovitz, if his worry is simply about church membership. If the behavior of the church is making atheists, those shiny new atheists are arriving at the atheist/skeptic community and finding exactly the same behavior and will bounce right back. Or maybe wander about between, in the cynical “pox on both your houses” domain of the nones (which we atheists will eagerly, and unwarrantedly, claim as ours).

Of course, if we’re actually concerned about supporting good people with generous views about diversity and Nature and culture, rather than what building they spend their Sunday visiting and which public speaker they spend their money on, well, both sides are screwed. It’s almost as if we ought to care more about building broader communities with healthy, progressive ideas rather than which god they believe in, or don’t believe in.

Nah, that can’t be it.

Comments

  1. mikehuben says

    I suppose that what is needed is an atheist movement that includes commitments to diversity and inclusiveness. It would probably need a distinctive name to separate it from atheism at large.

    I’m out of the loop: does this exist?

  2. willj says

    The common thread between them is conservative identity politics (tribalism), and more specifically hatred. Hard to grasp. I guess folks just assume that love-thy-neighbor means love-thy-white-straight-neighbor (unless they’re lefties, of course). Maybe they need a more explicit “thou shalt not hate” commandment. But I suppose hatred would have been as useful in ancient times as it is today.

  3. consciousness razor says

    If only this guy’s argument wasn’t “more atheists = bad”…. Fuck that. Seriously, that shit is rotten.

    People’s lives are torn apart by Christianity, but his complaint is that conservatives make people leave the precious fucking pews in his tax-exempt fucking church. Don’t you know that poor little Jesus is being rejected? What do you have to say for yourself?

    That’s what really matters here: God’s fee-fees (and/or how much goes into the collection plate … not sure). The people who are being hurt? Nah, of course not. The only reason we need to think about them is to explain how it is that this horrible, horrible increase in atheism happens. If they’d just get their regular inoculations of Jesus-juice from a reputable provider such as himself, instead of the tainted stuff the conservatives serve, there would be no problem to talk about.

    I mean, obviously, it’s not like we can live good fulfilling lives without his superstitious horseshit, nor is it that he’d be content with people who try to do so. Why not? Well, duh … because God wouldn’t like it. How could that not be the most important thing here, the way that we’re going to frame this entire discussion? How could that not be the way we should think about every moral question, big or small? If actual fucking people had anything to do with it, he’d dump religion too — the liberal kind and the conservative kind and every other flavor out there — but I guess for some people, being wrong about all of it is just plain unthinkable.

  4. says

    Don’t worry, there’s no way I’m ever converting to Christianity.

    There are two dimensions here. One is working to improve human thriving, which both Christians and atheists ought to agree on. I can side with the religious on that one.

    The other is the side of reason and evidence. We should support all people as part of our humanity, but as atheists we should make accommodating to the natural world part of our perspective. Religions suck at that.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @5:

    If only this guy’s argument wasn’t “more atheists = bad”

    Ah, reading between the lines. I didn’t see that at all, and it certainly wasn’t his “argument”. Anyway, I checked out some other stuff the guy wrote;

    The skeptics, backsliders, doubters, heretics, apostates, and “sinners” are building the redemptive community the world needs. It was the plan all along. People of every hue; men and women; straight, gay, bisexual, and transgender; the religious, Agnostics, and Atheists—they’re all feeling the same pull toward goodness.

    Maybe he has some insidious plan to convert us all at some point!

  6. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re OP
    Thank You for diving into this.
    Yes, I’m …uh… (shuffling feet) … taking credit for giving the link to this source to PZ, to elicit his renowned commentary.
    Thnak you, sir.
    bows
    —> off to pat myself on the head

  7. says

    If there’s one thing the Deep Rifts has taught me it’s that I have more in common with liberal Christians and Muslims than I do with vast swaths of the atheist community where we only share “God doesn’t exist.”

  8. consciousness razor says

    Ah, reading between the lines.

    No, it was definitely right there in the lines. A few things about that other bit you quoted:
    1) I’d rather not save his fucking church.
    2) We don’t need to be redeemed.
    3) There is no plan all along, because there’s never been a god planning anything.
    4) In fact we’re not all “feeling the same pull,” because we have very different views about the way things should be.

    Did you not “see” any of that either? Was it not meant to be something that I should find acceptable? And if not, then what was your point?

  9. Rob Grigjanis says

    Show me where he said “more atheists = bad”.

    we have very different views about the way things should be.

    Very different? He wants a society that tolerates all the diversity that the Toxic Christians hate. You don’t want that?

    Blinkered ideologues sure are weird folk.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    I wonder how many shoe horns this fucker had to break to cram modernity into his inherently authoritarian and misogynistic superstitious until he could live with continuing to believe it?

    I don’t care how “nice” his version of Christianity is, it’s still WRONG: there is no God, there is no afterlife, there is nothing supernatural or “spiritual,” and allowing belief in these WRONG things will continue lead to credulous, magical-thinking dullards.

    There, I said it. You may now pillory me for putting support for reality light years ahead of squishy, saccharine liberalism.

  11. unclefrogy says

    they’re all feeling the same pull toward goodness.

    I have to agree I think that is what people do generally it is at the heart of democracy. The problems and conflicts arise because we are easily distracted by fear and resentment and the tendency to identify as us and them. All that is easily manipulated by selfish predatory people for their own need for aggrandizement, their own personal glory.
    the biggest problem with religion is that each religion thinks they have a monopoly on goodness when it is something common to all people believers or none believers .

    uncle frogy

  12. willj says

    12 Sounds great in theory, but the reality is you have to function in a world of people that have all kinds of wacky ideas. Given the choice, I’d rather deal with a liberal christian than a conservative atheist, as long as they keep their ideas to themselves. Usually, they’ve been sensitive enough to do that.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    willj @ 14

    I’d rather deal with a liberal christian than a conservative atheist, as long as they keep their ideas to themselves.

    That’s the trouble, they won’t. Their entire religion is about envangelism and conversion; spreading their WRONG beliefs to the world like a cancer.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    willj @14: You think not allowing people to believe certain things sounds great in theory? What else shouldn’t be allowed? In theory, of course.

    I’ll take Pavlovitz over eliminationist fanatics like Akira any day.

  15. Zmidponk says

    So I have some reassuring news for Mr Pavlovitz, if his worry is simply about church membership. If the behavior of the church is making atheists, those shiny new atheists are arriving at the atheist/skeptic community and finding exactly the same behavior and will bounce right back. Or maybe wander about between, in the cynical “pox on both your houses” domain of the nones (which we atheists will eagerly, and unwarrantedly, claim as ours).

    I think there is a distinct difference between atheism and organised atheism. Where I am from there are quite a few people who are functionally atheist, as in, they don’t really have any actual belief in a god or gods of any kind, and also tend to be very accepting of LGBTQ people, etc, but if you were to mention any names that most folk here would recognise as being big in the atheist/skeptic community, you’d probably just get a blank look with a ‘who the hell’s that?’ You’d probably get a similar reaction to listing the names of prominent atheist organisations. Why the attitudes of atheist organisations and/or ‘celebrity atheists’ all too often differs from that of ordinary atheists (or, at least, the ones I know), I don’t really know – it could be that I am lucky enough to live in a cluster of atheists who aren’t complete arseholes, whereas most atheists actually are. Somehow, I doubt it, though.

  16. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    raising hand
    I am not understanding this thread, thank you letting me explain my impression of the Source Article.
    I don’t interpret his article as complaint about “atheists = bad”. He is criticizing the path religions have taken, causing people to find good behavior outside of religion. That Religion was founded as a code of behavior to care for everyone, and share all the benefits one possesses.
    He is complaining that all the leaders of Evangelical religions have led their flock into selfishness and exclusivity, away from sharing and inclusion.
    He is noting that atheism, generally, embraces those values that religion has abandoned.

    He does not discuss the cliche issue of “atheism denies God”, he’s noting that the value of atheism is its humanism.

    thank you for reading,

    I wrote that as I had the impression he is mirroring my atheist comments to religious leaders. Noting what was literally wrote in the Bible as Jesus words talking about issues we’re currently experiencing, and how they are much more aligned with “humanism” than their dogma. Which makes me admit that I look up to the figure in that book, who is called Jesus, for sharing a lot of sensible advice that is not asserted with divine authority, and is “grassroots” practical advice to benefit people regardless of cultural background. And it seems to me the “church” has strayed pretty far from it. I’m not trying to get the church back on track, simply explaining how “humanist” are actually following his words without imposition of scare stories.
    thank you

  17. Pierce R. Butler says

    slithey tove… @ # 18: … “humanist” are actually following his words without imposition of scare stories.

    Except the scare stories, as written in that Book, also come from the Jesus character. That older Testament does drop a few hints about the purported afterlife (which does sound [a] awfully boring and [b] much like the contemporary Greek version of hanging around indefinitely in dark caves with nothing to do), but you don’t run into threats of eternal burning until the guy who promises to save you from same, if you let him control your mind, starts to rant.

  18. willj says

    You think not allowing people to believe certain things sounds great in theory? What else shouldn’t be allowed?

    ?? Don’t see where I said that. By “keeping their ideas to themselves” I meant in my presence. But in any case, I was referring to her general attitude of no cooperation. Not giving an inch. Probably poorly worded.

  19. says

    There’s an old, possibly apocryphal, story in which an established author (in the version I heard, it was George Bernard Shaw) is inveigled into reading the manuscript of an aspiring writer and responds with the following, “sir, your work is both original and good; unfortunately, the good parts aren’t original, and the original parts aren’t good”. So it is with Christianity: the good parts aren’t original — most other religious and philosophical systems agree on them — and the original parts (e.g., the endless nitpicking over the nature of Jesus and just how divine he was) aren’t good — at best, they’re fucking pointless, at worst, they’re responsible for some of the worst outbreaks of wanton religious cruelty the world has ever seen…

  20. Rob Grigjanis says

    willj @20: You said Akira’s comment sounded great in theory. I took that to mean the whole comment. BTW, I may be wrong, but I think Akira is a bloke.

  21. robert79 says

    It seems the problem exists both amongst religious Americans, and amongst non-religious Americans. Have you considered the possibility that this may not be related to religion at all, but with American culture in general?

    Similarly with gun control, people say guns are part of American culture. In that case I would say American culture is plain wrong and needs correcting.

  22. rpjohnston says

    I’ve been following Mr Pavlovitz for a year and some now, even linked to him on this blog before. He’s got some good stuff. Being a pastor and all, most of his writing is aimed at toxic Christianity, though a good amount is also aimed at Bad People/magats in general, and some at Exhausted Good People. Liberal church leaders like him are the best bet we have for moving the Overton Window within Christianity/the Right/rural and midwestern areas and, hopefully, avoiding a societal war where we have to beat them all into the shadows.

    So I’m glad to have him, and his influence, on our side. And I’ll roll my eyes at the squishy Jesus stuff and silly rituals.

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’ll remind you of that the next time you’re complaining about someNew Age or alt.med guru. I’m positive that Jenny McCarthy, Depak Choopra, and Gwyneth Paltrow et. al. Are ALL about social justice and progressive causes? I mean, why complain about their beliefs when you can work with them and make the world one big ecumenical circle jerk?

  24. Rob Grigjanis says

    Akira @25: The people you mention are selling harmful bullshit. Pavlovitz isn’t selling Christianity. He’s a Christian who is selling inclusivity and social justice. He doesn’t even claim any moral high ground for his faith. What the fuck is wrong with you?

  25. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chigau#27, noticed that a couple of days ago. I concur with WTF.

  26. Akira MacKenzie says

    Robert @ 26

    The people you mention are selling harmful bullshit.

    And Christianity ISN’T harmful bullshit?

    Religion ISN’T harmful bullshit?

    Theism ISN’T harmful bullshit?

    Christianity isn’t about exclusivity and tolerance! It’s about groveling before and angry Bronze Age God that hates gays and women! Oh, did their deity send them a memo? May I see it? Or is it just a PR stunt to keep their variety of magical thinking relevant?
    He’s a fucking Christian barbarian lamenting that people are fleeing religion. But rather than let the cancer due, He’d just give coat of paint, and pretend the last 2000 years of ignorance and bloodshed never happened!

    What the fuck is wrong with you?

    I could ask the same fucking question about you and many here! What happened? A few years back we atheists would never have stooped to pander to ANY of the savages who still believes in a God or the supernatural regardless of their party affiliation! Now you’re willing to align yourself with the enemies of science and objective, materialist reality simply because they’re whitewash the history their bloody sexist and homophobic religion like it never fucking happened.

    What happened to the Pharyngula where ”progressive” and ”moderate” religion provided cover for the fundies by perpetuating theism and supnaturalism as a valid belief? What happened to Pharyngula that led the war against accomedationism and the stinking ”faithiests” who thought we could blend religion and science If it made the knuckle dragging masses happy?

    Have you lose your collective spines, guts, and gender-respective balls, you fucking, sniveling, THEISTS! You claim not believe in a God, but what else am I supposed to call someone who allows the disease of faith and religion remain rather than end it?

  27. Akira MacKenzie says

    What has happened to the “godless left?” Was it infected with the same peace, love, understanding, and pot” counter-cutter bullshit that rendered Marxism a harmless laughing stock back in the 60s?

    Oh, for some Bolsheviks!

  28. springa73 says

    Anyone who admires Bolsheviks is, in my opinion, little better than someone who admires Nazis and worse than someone who admires the Spanish Inquisition.

    The world would be infinitely better without any of them.

  29. springa73 says

    *infinitely better if there had never been Bolsheviks, Nazis, or the Inquisition. A plague on everyone who persecuted others for not sharing their beliefs.

  30. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    What has happened to the “godless left?” Was it infected with the same peace, love, understanding, and pot” counter-cutter bullshit that rendered Marxism a harmless laughing stock back in the 60s?

    Donald Fucking Trump is president now because of this sort of idiotic purism.

  31. vucodlak says

    @ Akira MacKenzie

    I don’t like Christianity. Christianity, and certain Christians, made my life miserable for the first two-thirds of my life. Certain Christians continue to make my life miserable, though I haven’t been in Christian for at least a decade.

    But… I’m surrounded by Christians in this country, and they’re not all fools and/or hateful bigots. Some of them do good every day, some of them have excellent and important insights, some of them I look to as people I can learn things from. The mere fact that they are Christians does not negate the good they do. Some of my best friends are Christians, and they respect my desire not to be proselytized to.

    I’ll never be a Christian again, and I’ll always have a distaste for almost everything to do with Christianity, but I’m willing to admit that I can learn things from some Christians. I may think their god is a tyrannical monster (whether or not it’s real) but, as long as they’re genuinely willing to respect the beliefs of others, I’m happy to work with them.

    From your #29:

    A few years back we atheists would never have stooped to pander to ANY of the savages who still believes in a God or the supernatural regardless of their party affiliation!

    Savages? Seriously? At times in my life, I’ve been far more savage than most theists would ever dream of being, and it had precious little to do with the fact that I was technically a Christian at the time. Oh sure, I could blame the pastor who told me I was already damned, or the Christians who did terrible things to me, or the other Christians who provided poor role models, but those would only be excuses. I did the terrible things I did because I wanted to.

    From your #30:

    What has happened to the “godless left?” Was it infected with the same peace, love, understanding, and pot” counter-cutter bullshit that rendered Marxism a harmless laughing stock back in the 60s?
    Oh, for some Bolsheviks!</

    What exactly do you want to do? Call all Christians stupid dum-dum doodoo heads and never work with them on anything, even if they’re proposing they same things we want? Because I don’t think that’s going to accomplish much.

    That last line doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that your answer will be anything good.

  32. F.O. says

    @Akira MacKenzie:
    The Bible is, if taken at face value, a horrible book.
    If you bring Christianity to its logical consequence, it’s a horrible religion.
    Thing is, a lot of Christians don’t bring Christianity to what, to us, look like are its logical consequences.
    Faith isn’t logical.
    Yes, Jesus doesn’t make sense without eternal torture, but that’s how we, atheist, read it.
    It’s not necessarily how many Christians read it, and in fact many don’t.
    From my point of view they are being illogical, but that doesn’t mean they are stupid: we humans are very, very good at compartmentalising our ideas about the world.

    As atheists we are committed to align our beliefs to the evidence, and the evidence is that a lot of Christians are both good and intelligent, despite believing what to us looks like bullshit.

    It is up to us to reconcile our experiences, our ideas of humanity and the world with this fact.

  33. rpjohnston says

    The only boodthirsty, “savage” zealot I’m seeing here is Akira. And you’re sure as hell more of a barbarian than Pavlovitz.

    Check that beam in your eye, Akira, ;)

  34. says

    So, people should be inclusive of Muslims. Ok, does that mean that we can take a Muslim sacred object, throw it in the trash along with a few other sacred objects (so we can be inclusive), a few coffee grounds, and a banana peel? Then take a picture of it and post it on the Internet to tell everyone how proud we are for doing this? By the way, I wonder how women and homosexuals are treated in Muslim societies.

  35. Zmidponk says

    @Akira MacKenzie:

    The problem you’re facing here is that a significant chunk of atheists are ex-Christians, and many more are surrounded by Christians, and have Christians as friends and family. When you tar every single Christian as being a savage, intolerant, barbarian fuckhead, simply because some are, you are telling them that their friends, family and even themselves are or were like that, and, speaking as an ex-Christian atheist who has some Christian friends and family, I know that simply isn’t true. The motivations for any individual person following a religion can be extremely varied, and may not be because they agree with any bigotry or intolerance prevalent within that religion, even if it comes from passages in that religion’s holy texts. This is why, for example, despite there being passages in the Christian Bible that clearly advocate intolerance towrds homosexuality, up to and including straight-up murdering gay people, you get Christian sects that tolerate and even welcome folk of any sexuality (usually by trying to reinterpret those passages to mean something different than what they clearly say). Now, this isn’t to say that the intolerance in the Bible is not a problem, or is excusable. In fact, I would say that the bigotry and intolerance shown in the Bible is a fairly strong argument as to why people simply should not be Christians, and, given the Torah and Quran show similar things, also why they should not follow Judaism or Islam, but the simple fact of the matter is that the followers of those religions do not necessarily agree with or follow the intolerance shown in those texts.

  36. Zmidponk says

    Brian Dean:

    So, people should be inclusive of Muslims. Ok, does that mean that we can take a Muslim sacred object, throw it in the trash along with a few other sacred objects (so we can be inclusive), a few coffee grounds, and a banana peel? Then take a picture of it and post it on the Internet to tell everyone how proud we are for doing this?

    Yes. If you feel like it, go right ahead. Being inclusive of Muslims does not mean that everyone is bound by the rules of Islam. It means being respectful of the fact that Muslims are bound by the rules of (their particular sect/interpretation of) Islam. In other words, it is wrong to force a Muslim to go against their beliefs, but it is also wrong for any Muslim to force you to adhere to theirs.

    By the way, I wonder how women and homosexuals are treated in Muslim societies.

    Are you trying to argue that because there are Muslims who are intolerant, it’s OK for Christians to be intolerant? That’s what you seem to be suggesting.

  37. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    You know, at one point, I believed that Atheism could free humanity from superstition and intolerance–or at least from the justification of intolerance via superstition. I believed in Atheism+. My fellow atheists have educated me on that point. I now realize that a person’s intolerance now requires no further justification than their own arrogance and hubris. I’ve realized that it is not a matter of removing the scales from their eyes as my Xtian brethren say. It is a matter of people basically sucking on a fundamental level. In short, I’ve had to choose between the atheism and the +, and I decided that the + is more important. I will always be an atheist–it is just the way the world looks to me. However, I now realize that atheism is in no way superior to any other attitude toward deities or religion. What matters is how you treat people. If you treat people with dignity and try to lift them up, you are an ally. If you believe your religious outlook assists you in that endeavor, more power to you. And I will even happily listen to your apologetics and evangelizing as long as you accept that I am unlikely to be swayed by them. I will even tell you why I am not swayed if you ask, although I have neither need or intent to convert you.

    We should not turn away allies when we have such a clear enemy.

  38. says

    ZMID:
    “Yes. If you feel like it, go right ahead. Being inclusive of Muslims does not mean that everyone is bound by the rules of Islam. It means being respectful of the fact that Muslims are bound by the rules of (their particular sect/interpretation of) Islam. In other words, it is wrong to force a Muslim to go against their beliefs, but it is also wrong for any Muslim to force you to adhere to theirs.”

    So as far as throwing a Catholic Eucharist in the trash, it’s fine if I feel like it. Being inclusive of Catholics does not mean that everyone is bound by the rules of Catholicism. It means being respectful of the fact that Catholics are bound by the rules of (their particular sect/interpretation of) Catholicism (this includes not allowing someone to take the Eucharist and desecrate it, but you can feel free to ignore this minor point). In other words, it is wrong to force a Catholic to go against their beliefs (such as making them sell birth control) but it is also wrong for any Catholic to force you to adhere to theirs.

    ZMID
    “Are you trying to argue that because there are Muslims who are intolerant, it’s OK for Christians to be intolerant?”

    Pedantry and cluelessness is not evidence of intelligence.

  39. rpjohnston says

    @zmidponk: Also, Pavlovitz and other Christians are actually Good People who are fighting for the rights and lives of myself and my friends. Ensuring our safety and prosperity is by far my most major impetus. So if someone like Akira comes galumphing in attacking my ally over what is in this case trivial bullshit, well, it shows me quite clearly that Akira DOESN’T give a fuck about me or mine and is therefore my enemy.

    Also, Brian is a wanker trying to start shit with disingenuous and inflammatory bullshit. Throw him into his own own bonfire and move on.

    ++ to ARIDS, though I’d just wave off the apologetics and evangelizing; I have no interest in that stuff at all.

    Brian: It’s wrong to force a Catholic to sell birth control if their job isn’t as a pharmacist, which is a distinction that you and everyone else here knows, fuckhead. Piss off, nobody gives a shit about you.

  40. Akira MacKenzie says

    So believing in the supernatural and denying reality, science, and knowledge isn’t as bad as racism, sexism, homophobia, or capitalism?

  41. says

    RP
    “It’s wrong to force a Catholic to sell birth control if their job isn’t as a pharmacist,”

    Is it wrong to force a Muslim to sell pork, cigarettes, or alcohol?

    Or better yet, it’s wrong for a Catholic priest to have sex with underage boys. But if a Muslim does it saying that sex with women is for procreation and sex with boys is for fun, you would say that you must be “respectful of the fact that Muslims are bound by the rules of (their particular sect/interpretation of) Islam”.

    As far as telling me to fuck off, I don’t care. if you want to be respectful of Muslims that treat women poorly, or have sex with boys, or run child prostitution rings, all I will do is sit back and ENJOY THE DECLINE.

  42. vucodlak says

    @ Brian Dean, #45

    Is it wrong to force a Muslim to sell pork, cigarettes, or alcohol?

    Yes. Gee whiz, that was easy!

    Or better yet, it’s wrong for a Catholic priest to have sex with underage boys. But if a Muslim does it saying that sex with women is for procreation and sex with boys is for fun, you would say that you must be “respectful of the fact that Muslims are bound by the rules of (their particular sect/interpretation of) Islam”.

    As far as telling me to fuck off, I don’t care. if you want to be respectful of Muslims that treat women poorly, or have sex with boys, or run child prostitution rings, all I will do is sit back and ENJOY THE DECLINE.

    No one gets to rape anyone else. No one is allowed to molest children. No one is allowed to abuse other people. Golly, that was super easy, too!

    Wow, you’re kind of a road apple, aren’t you?

  43. rpjohnston says

    Grownups are talking, Brian. Go play with your little friends until you’re ready to put on your big-boy pants and engage as an adult.

    Pavlovitz doesn’t deny science, knowledge, or any of the reality that matters, and your justifications for attacking a good man are transparent horseshit, akira. You want to have your puritanical little crusade, you better be prepared for pretty much everyone else to kick you out of everything.

  44. vucodlak says

    @ Akira MacKenzie, #43

    So believing in the supernatural and denying reality, science, and knowledge isn’t as bad as racism, sexism, homophobia, or capitalism?

    Just because someone denies reality (however you choose to define that) in one area doesn’t mean they’re suddenly unable to relate to it at all. It doesn’t actually harm me if someone chooses to believe in/worship Jesus or Vishnu or the Loa. Or ghosts or the Dover Demon or whatever. Their actions, which might be driven by those beliefs, may cause harm, but those actions are what we have to deal with.

    If we’ve learned anything from the past few years it’s that atheism and skepticism are no guarantee of decency. They’re basically neutral qualities, like hair color or wardrobe choices.

    And speaking of denying reality… (from your #44):

    No one can consider them all evils that must be eliminated?

    …I ask you again, what do you propose we do with people who don’t meet your standards of reality acceptance?

  45. Rob Grigjanis says

    Akira @43:

    So believing in the supernatural and denying reality, science, and knowledge isn’t as bad as racism, sexism, homophobia, or capitalism?

    Ponder, if you will, the difference between these two (difference in implementability, as well as arseholishness);

    “You cannot do A, B, C”
    “You cannot believe X, Y, Z”

  46. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    So believing in the supernatural and denying reality, science, and knowledge isn’t as bad as racism, sexism, homophobia, or capitalism?

    In many cases, yes, since the former category includes a wealth of scenarios where harm is done only to the person holding the belief, and in many of those cases the harm is minimal.

    No one is suggesting that atheists stop advocating for a fact-based epistemology, for fuck’s sake. That doesn’t require, or even imply, that we should refuse, out of sheer spite, to work with people who don’t follow our epistemology, but do share our position on other causes that matter, on those causes specifically. What are you, five?

  47. Zmidponk says

    Brian Dean #41:

    So as far as throwing a Catholic Eucharist in the trash, it’s fine if I feel like it. Being inclusive of Catholics does not mean that everyone is bound by the rules of Catholicism. It means being respectful of the fact that Catholics are bound by the rules of (their particular sect/interpretation of) Catholicism (this includes not allowing someone to take the Eucharist and desecrate it, but you can feel free to ignore this minor point).

    Actually, no, it doesn’t include that. Catholics are absolutely within their rights to be offended by someone desecrating a Eucharist. They are also completely within their rights to refuse to do it themselves, and it would be wrong to try to force them to do so. What they are not within their rights to do is stop someone else doing it.

    In other words, it is wrong to force a Catholic to go against their beliefs (such as making them sell birth control) but it is also wrong for any Catholic to force you to adhere to theirs.

    Literally forcing a Catholic person to sell birth control at gunpoint is wrong, yes. However, if it’s merely that a person, of any religion, is in a situation where the necessary duties of their job do not conform to their religious rules, they’ve got to decide for themselves whether they can bend or break their religious rules to allow them to do their job. If they decide that they can’t, then they’re free to find themselves another job which does not conflict with their religion.

    #45:

    Or better yet, it’s wrong for a Catholic priest to have sex with underage boys. But if a Muslim does it saying that sex with women is for procreation and sex with boys is for fun, you would say that you must be “respectful of the fact that Muslims are bound by the rules of (their particular sect/interpretation of) Islam”.

    First of all, I would actually question which variant of Islam this Muslim is practicing, as most interpretations of Islam would have a problem with this. Whilst there is a great deal of abuse of boys in places like Afghanistan, for example, this would appear to be in spite of the fact that Afghan law forbids it because it is against Islam (it still goes on because some of the people doing it are powerful warlords who the police can’t touch even if they wanted to, and some don’t want to because they partake in this abuse themselves).

    Secondly, even if this Muslim could point to some religious justification for having sex with boys, you’re missing that this person is forcing someone else to conform to his religious views – the boy. So you’re still wrong even looking purely at religious rights, and ignoring that other rights of the abused boy would come into play here.

    As far as telling me to fuck off, I don’t care. if you want to be respectful of Muslims that treat women poorly, or have sex with boys, or run child prostitution rings, all I will do is sit back and ENJOY THE DECLINE.

    Wow. You really are a complete imbecile, aren’t you?

  48. tacitus says

    Bit late to comment, but Pavlovitz is wrong about the antics of white Christian fundamentalists driving people away from Christianity. If anything, the perpetual outrage machine the right-wing churches have operated here in America over the last 40 years has insulated this nation from the steep decline in religious observance seen in the rest of the western democratic world.

    Apathy and irrelevance have been the main driving forces in the intergenerational demographic shift toward secularism in the west — i.e. kids simply not seeing any reason to follow their parents into the traditional faith of their forefathers. The culture wars have been good for conservative Christianity over the last 40 years in America, while the more liberal mainline denominations have seen a steady decline in numbers.

    The secularization of America’s youth has finally started to accelerate over the last 10 to 15 years, so we’re catching up with the rest of the western world at last, but without the religious right, I suspect it would have happened far sooner than it did.

  49. says

    “No one gets to rape anyone else. No one is allowed to molest children. No one is allowed to abuse other people. Golly, that was super easy, too!”

    Super easy to refute too. In the UK, the police ignored child prostitution rings because they were run by Muslims. But of course, they could give the excuse that what really happened was, they tripped and fell and because of that, their dick just accidentally went into the girl. Like, the Muslim in the below link.

    All of this stuff is easy enough to check and verify, which tells me that you are just flippantly stupid.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/12052901/Ehsan-Abdulaziz-Saudi-millionaire-cleared-of-raping-teenager.html

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_child_sexual_exploitation_scandal

  50. says

    “First of all, I would actually question which variant of Islam this Muslim is practicing, as most interpretations of Islam would have a problem with this.”

    Most interpretations of Catholicism would also be against Catholic priests from having sex with boys. But that doesn’t seem to stop you guys from criticizing Catholics.

    “Secondly, even if this Muslim could point to some religious justification for having sex with boys, you’re missing that this person is forcing someone else to conform to his religious views – the boy.”

    In many cases, the boys are Muslim too.

    Why not just admit that what you really are, is anti-Christian instead of atheist. Here, let me help you:

    Atheism:
    The lack of belief in a God.

    Islam:
    Total submission to God, and Mohammed is his prophet.

    It looks like atheism, and Islam isn’t compatible. Yet you don’t criticize Islam very much do you?

  51. Saad says

    Has a PZ or a single person here so far said it’s okay for Muslims to rape children? What a fucking obvious dishonest strawman argument.

  52. tacitus says

    @54:Brian Dean:

    God you are stupid. That linked Wikipedia article, and the contemporary linked news reports and the linked police conduct investigation all show that while there were indeed very serious missteps in the investigation, your claim that the police ignored a child prostitution ring because it was run by Muslims is a gross mischaracterization of what really happened.

    Give it up. You’re trolling the wrong blog. Your lies have no effect here other than to confirm your inability to comprehend what you read.

  53. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Akira MacKenzie: “So believing in the supernatural and denying reality, science, and knowledge isn’t as bad as racism, sexism, homophobia, or capitalism?”

    Yup! If someone believes in the supernatural or denies reality, science, etc., the consequences mainly fall on them. Now if their belief causes them to be racist, sexist…, then I judge based on their actions. My wife was raised an atheist. Her moral code has 3 tenets:
    1) Don’t be stupid.
    2) Don’t be greedy.
    3) Don’t be cruel.

    I added a fourth:
    4) Don’t be pathetic.

    What more, really, is there. I mean, it would be nice if people accepted reality and valued truth, but I am not sure the average human is wired that way, and I won’t reject a person based solely on their belief in the absurd.

  54. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Brian Dean,
    I don’t criticize a Muslim child rapist for being Muslim, but rather for raping children. It is the actions that count. For instance, I don’t really know what you believe, but I can still criticize you for being a disingenuous asshole.

  55. Zmidponk says

    Brian Dean #55:

    Most interpretations of Catholicism would also be against Catholic priests from having sex with boys. But that doesn’t seem to stop you guys from criticizing Catholics.

    We criticise the Catholic priests who have raped boys for raping boys, and we criticise the Catholic Church for helping to cover it up. Should we praise them for doing this instead?

    In many cases, the boys are Muslim too.

    I suppose that would make some modicum of sense in your twisted version of the world where all variants of Islam, without exception, don’t just condone the raping of boys, but actually command it to happen. However, even if this actually had some semblance of reality to it, as I pointed out in the portion of my post you neglected to quote, the boy has other rights as well, and those rights, if enforced, would protect the boy from being raped. If we actually return to something at least close to reality, even if we ignore the existence of these other rights, you don’t just have to prove the boy is Muslim, but actually have to prove the boy follows the same extremely unusual variant of Islam that his rapist does – and that is assuming his rapist can actually religiously justify this rape, which, basically, would appear to not be the case. Now, to be clear, a Muslim man who rapes boys is a absolute fucking despicable person who, if I had my way, would be castrated using two bricks and no anaesthetic – but that’s because he rapes boys, not because he is Muslim.

    Why not just admit that what you really are, is anti-Christian instead of atheist. Here, let me help you:

    Atheism:
    The lack of belief in a God.

    Islam:
    Total submission to God, and Mohammed is his prophet.

    It looks like atheism, and Islam isn’t compatible. Yet you don’t criticize Islam very much do you?

    I’ll put it this way – I’m not in the habit of randomly going off on Islam or Muslims in the comment thread of a blog post that isn’t discussing the problems with Islam. That’s called ‘sticking to the topic under discussion’. This is something you appear to be entirely unable to do, and it says a lot of not very good things about you that this is the case.

  56. vucodlak says

    @ Brian Dean, #54

    Were you under the impression that I gave permission for those things? I don’t have that kind of power over anyone, much less people half a world away from me. I have dealt with rapists in my own backyard, so to speak, but I have fuck-all ability to do anything about rapists in the UK. I can’t vote for change there, I can’t influence the police there, and I don’t even have a current passport, so I can’t go there to gather evidence. So I don’t really know what you expect me to do about it.

    You keep bringing Islam into this as though it’s somehow relevant, but you’ve yet to make a case for why that’s so. Yes, there are Muslim rapists. Yes, it’s every bit as unacceptable for Muslims to commit rape as it is for anyone else. Yes, I would deal with a Muslim who I knew to be a rapist the same way I’ve dealt with others who I knew to be rapists.

    I’m far more critical of Christians than Muslims because, living where I do, there are vastly more Christians than Muslims. Christians hold all the power here and, further, almost every rapist I’ve known has been a ‘good Christian man.’ I don’t blame all Christians or Christianity for those rapists, so why would I blame Islam or all Muslims because some Muslims are also rapists? Yes, some aspects of Islam may encourage rapists, but that’s absolutely the case with Christianity too. Most Christians aren’t rapists, and neither are most Muslims.

    I’ll say it again, and I’ll try to keep it simple: No one should be permitted to rape anyone. Believing that doesn’t mean all rapists magically stop raping people, or that anyone has the power to actually stop every rape (aside from the rapists themselves).

  57. zenlike says

    10 years, and some catholics are still whining about one of their Holy Crackers being thrown in the thrash. If only they could muster the same kind of moral outrage about the conduct of their own religious institution.

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