In spite of the Australian government’s refusal to support the convention (while it gave $2M to the Parliament of the World’s Religions) (which is fucked up, yo), the convention featuring the legendary Richard Dawkins is sold out.
While this doesn’t make the government funding unfairness any less unfair, it is still good news :)
godlizard has been added to The Atheist Blogroll!! You can see the link to the blogroll in my sidebar, and the full blogroll on its very own page. The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information.
The atheist community in general is full of awesomeness, isn’t it? It is. It *so* is.
Look carefully at the image below, taken in Maine on election night in 2009. The people on the right are rejoicing upon learning that they have succeeded in passing a law that denies marriage rights to gay couples. The people on the right consider themselves to be godly, moral, and superior to the people on the left. The people on the right have absolutely no concept of the harm they have inflicted, or they pain they have caused. It does not occur to them that there is anything wrong with taking civil rights away from others. I am not a psychologist, but I can tell you without any hesitation that the people on the right are, in clinical terms, fucked up in the head.
Yesterday I read three separate posts which touched on the psychological (and in some cases psychiatric) issues of religion:
- Facebook Fundies: Gettin’ Crunk with the Lord, about groups of believers who like to work themselves up into a religious hysteria
- Religion and Psychology, which explores the underlying cognitive biases that contribute to religiosity such as confirmation bias which plays a strong role in religious belief.
- Solar Powered Bibles for Haiti: Why Some Christians Feel Compelled to Exploit Disaster**, in which a psychologist explains the underlying issues that would cause people to send bibles in the place of anesthetics for amputations or antibiotics for horrific infections: “First, it can diminish empathy by downplaying the importance of here and now suffering. Second it can make something other than a person’s apparent needs (like food or anesthetics) seem critically important. Third, it can re-direct our mother-bear instincts away from protecting vulnerable individuals and toward protecting the ideology itself. Believers may come to feel more protective of their religion than they are of actual human beings.”
And let’s not forget this guy, whose imaginary friend told him to go shoot a guy in the head in church, or the people who consider him a hero, or any of the other rhetorical extremists, predatory sociopaths whose message *sounds* completely whackadoodledoo, and is often dismissed as such, but it’s a message calculated to reach a very, very small demographic — like a dog whistle for psychotics. For example:
The fundamentally ill do not always present with such exaggerated symptoms, of course. And not all of them choose to use the faithful as their minions, but more and more these days they are the primary target market of anyone seeking to impose an economic or social agenda that runs contrary to the good of the many in favor of the good of the few.
The people who keep track of such things estimate that psychopaths make up 1% of the population, but they tend to wield a great deal of influence over the easily led, since they are master manipulators. Whether they occupy positions within in the evangelical community or simply pull the strings from outside, they exert tremendous influence.
“Faith presupposes that we cannot know. We can never know. Those who claim to know what life means play God. These false prophets—the Pat Robertsons, the Jerry Falwells and the James Dobsons—clutching the cross and the Bible, offer, like Mephistopheles, to lead us back to a mythical paradise and an impossible, unachievable happiness and security, at once seductive and empowering. They ask us to hand over moral choice and responsibility to them. They will tell us they know what is right and wrong in the eyes of God. They tell us how to act, how to live, and in this process they elevate themselves above us. They remove the anxiety of moral choice, the fundamental anxiety of human existence.” — Chris Hedges
To be continued, maybe…
**NOTE: representatives of the electric bible-bringers have responded with reassurances that the bibles are not being transported instead of life-saving supplies, but rather “piggybacking on existing shipments, if there is extra space”. However, the group doing the sending has an ongoing campaign in Haiti to convert Catholics to Evangelical Christianity, and you’d kind of hope that, in times of crisis, they’d set that aside and just help people, but that’s not how it works.
I can’t imagine how hard it was for George Tiller’s family to sit in the courtroom and hear charming testimony like this from this remorseless sack of fundamentalist shit:
In his testimony, Roeder told jurors he had considered elaborate schemes to stop the doctor, including chopping off his hands, crashing a car into him or sneaking into his home to kill him. …
But in the end, Roeder told the jury, the easiest way was to walk into Tiller’s church, put a gun to the man’s forehead and pull the trigger.
But I commend the jury for not dicking around, and the judge for refusing to consider allowing a voluntary manslaughter conviction based on that “imminent danger to fetuses” nonsense. Well done.
It’s been less than a year since I’ve been “out” as an atheist, and I’m still feeling my way around the world with this new thing that might make people automatically hate me with white-hot fury, and I worry.
For instance: I make websites at my day job for a living, and for fun, and more and more often these days, in my spare time for an extra-good living. Up until now, I’ve basically been handed work by people I knew well, who knew of my work and who did not so much hire me, as ask me if I had time to work on something, so my marketing strategy up until this point has been saying “yes.”
But lately it’s gotten to be more than just that, people telling people who refer me to other people, and at this point it would be quite handy if I had, you know, a portfolio. I haven’t done very much freelancing that I can show off yet (and I don’t feel completely comfortable including sites I’ve done for my employer), but I rock at WordPress, and my other blog and this one are things I’m quite proud to have designed and built on the thematic framework. And if I send anyone to either place, there’s the very real risk that they’ll immediately change their opinion of me from “that web person so-and-so speaks so highly of” to “evil godless baby-jesus-hater” and rush off and hire some hack.
I comfort myself that I don’t really *need* the money, and that (theoretically) I wouldn’t want to work with someone who wouldn’t want to work with me for that reason, which is a pleasant enough attitude, and I suppose it’s one I should embrace with more enthusiasm than I am now. And when it comes right down to it, anyone who knows my main email address (hint: i’m dotlizard at pretty much everything, it’s not hard to stalk me at all) has enough information about me to discover my blatant godlessness, so what’s the problem here, exactly?
As it is, I’ve omitted the sites that directly reference the most blasphemous aspects of my web presence, and thrown in some random videos of fish for good measure at the thing that may become my portfolio site. Oddly enough, I included my Bad Teenage Poetry Written by a Grown-Ass Woman site, so go figure, eh?
I am a forty-nine year old woman with three children and two grandchildren, I should have learned more about how not to give a flying fart in a shitstorm about what people think of me, but then again I’ve never been quite this “out” before.
And so sometimes, I worry.
On January 3, a whole lot of funny started happening on the Chromium open source project pages, beginning with a post noting an alarming number of goats teleported. If you are not a programmer or generally geekily inclined, you probably won’t get just how funny this thread is, for example:
“Everyone relax, the goats are teleported from and to the same Google Goat Pool, that’s in closed beta. Soon everyone will be able to teleport in and out every single pool via Google Goat Wave pool. ;) but it always starts in linux.. after all penguins hate all things goat related :D”
“We’ve only got one guy using Chrome here, everyone else uses Firefox and yet the office is still full of these damn goats wandering around all over the place. Anyone got any suggestions how we can blame the problem on Microsoft and ship this lot straight to Redmond !?”
Several weeks into the thread, the most delightful story began to unfold:
“Follow-up to comment 73…our attempts to oust these goats from our office is becoming problematic. Currently, they’re all congregated by the coffee machine discussing what method should be used to elect a union representative. I tried to suggest a secret baa-llot, but they don’t seem to have much of a sense of humour between them and now won’t let me get a coffee.
And we still have more goats coming through – at this rate I estimate goats will outnumber employees sometime over the weekend.
In the days that followed, this imaginative individual posted regular updates on the ongoing goat saga in his office, which led a few of us to suggest this needed to be blogged. And viola! thegoatdiaries.com. It’s funny enough that you don’t have to be a programmer to appreciate it, by the way.
Although the subject matter is completely unrelated to my usual topic, I felt delighted enough by this to recommend following this blog, encouraging the writer, and generally enjoying a very inspired bit of goat-related fun.
A few days ago, I read They Don’t SPEAK for Me by Bruce Gerencser, as linked to by the awesome John Loftus, and my first reaction was that I objected rather strenuously to the notion that all believers share a certain guilt by association when one of their leaders says or does reprehensible things (ex: Pat Robertson). More specificallly:
I understand why you are upset. I used to get upset too when I was lumped together with people I despised or disagreed with.
However…when I join a group, church,political party or family I have to accept the baggage that comes with the association.
And I thought, wait, no, that’s not right, I can’t blame my Christian friends because some other random person representing themselves as the same religion is acting like a complete asshat. This actually kept me awake much longer than I expected it to — had I known, I would have just sat up right then and there and written this.
But the next day, I re-read the post and changed my mind, I think my first perception of it was colored by the title chosen by Mr. Loftus, as I was thinking along the lines of “lumping all Christians together” being the bad thing, but on that second read it became more clear that it was about urging Christians to take responsibility for their choice of associations. Taking responsibility is good, right?
And then I thought about it some more, and that first impression returned. So, am I saying that people of faith bear no responsibility for the actions of other with whom the voluntarily align themselves? No! Just wanted to make that clear, in case you think me an apologist of sorts. Not that I am free of apologist tendencies, but let’s not go off on that tangent right this moment, ok?
My disagreement comes from this: Telling all members of any faith that they must own the consequences of things done by extremists claiming the same religious label would only be fair if all members of that faith shared the same or even substantially similar sets of beliefs – but they don’t. There are such widely divergent views within the different factions of the major religions (let alone between the major religions themselves) that I am not comfortable with telling every Christian they must accept that they are connected directly to Scott Roeder, any more than I would tell every Muslim that they are connected directly to Umar Abdulmutallab. To identify everyone in a group as associates of its most infamous worst-case examples just seems unfair to me.
And when I look at these examples and reflect on the crazy huge number of completely different things a person might mean when they speak of their beliefs in a god or gods, it comforts me to contemplate an Atheist’s Peace (video & lyrics follow in the ‘more’ area)
News just featured an interview with a missionary who just got home from Haiti, relating her experience during the earthquake, as her building held up while others around her collapsed: “I could feel god’s presence, he was right there with me.” Huh. Well, he must have had a Special Purpose for you. What are you doing back in the states then? You’re a missionary, why didn’t you stick around and HELP? Way to show god how thankful you are that he was hanging out with you, making sure you were A-OK while letting countless other people die horrible deaths. Bitch.