Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday Word: White-whiner

White-whiner: a rich Caucasian who complains about how hard their life is

Is Science a Religion?

There’s one statement that always makes me laugh when I hear a theist parrot it. No, not “If evolution is real, why aren’t monkeys still turning into people?” I’m talking about the confounding claim made by pinheaded pious fools the world over:

Science is a religion.

First of all, I’m not a scientist, though I am an atheist. In fact, I am affiliated with science in the same way Christians are: I enjoy the benefits of science, whether I’m driving my car over great distances at high speeds or I’m being cured by a doctor of a disease that would have probably killed me a few centuries ago

Saying that “science is a religion” shows me that this person thinks that I find religion offensive, that they think I “believe” in science, and that they are trying desperately to drag me down to their level.

I don’t believe in science, I observe its startling success and rely upon it. I am quite aware that there have been times when science has been wrong and that it most certainly has some things wrong this very instant, but I am particularly impressed at science’s ability to admit a mistake and change course. Religion takes centuries to do this, if it happens at all.

Which brings me to another point: science isn’t a religion, religion is a science. Science is observation, and good science is observation of repeatable events. Bad science relies upon circumstantial evidence, word of mouth, traditional views, faith in someone else’s account… basically all the things religion is based upon. Religion is a science, it’s just not a very good one.

So why do religious people think that atheists have any more “faith” in science than a theist? Do theists think that human beings have a set amount of belief, so that lacking belief in gods must mean a person believes something else? If so, why does a believer’s faith in God not prevent them from “blindly” taking the medication their doctor prescribes?

I just don’t get it…

And so I am left one final hypothesis. What if religious people are self-loathers? What if they realize how dumb and infantile they really are? Religion is always pounding into the heads of the faithful how sinful, bad, and naturally evil “the flesh” is. Perhaps it is a case of “misery loves company,” and religious people just want to believe that everyone is saddled with the burden of religion.

I’m sorry to disappoint.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Make a Wish

We used a rotisserie chicken today to make soup, and in the process I removed the wish bone. After letting it dry overnight, I’m sure tomorrow I will grab hold of one side and my wife will take the other, and we’ll pull…

Even though we’re atheists.

It’s weird. The rituals that aren’t directly associated with religion are easy to embrace, even though I know it’s hogwash. I don’t think getting the bigger half of the chicken bone will grant me a wish, but maybe I could convince myself I just like a little friendly competition (the trick is pull up, not away…).

But what about birthday candles, then? I have no doubt that my children will be given the opportunity to blow out the candles on their birthday cakes. There’s no competition involved, so how am I going to justify this one?

Human beings love ritual, and I have no idea why. It’s quite odd, really, that we derive so much pleasure from just making shit up and repeating it at regular intervals. Just look at Christmas.

“Yeah, we’ll celebrate Jesus being born in a small desert town by hanging glass knick-knacks on an evergreen, and a fat guy in red will break into your house and leave presents under it.”

And Easter’s no better.

“So there’s this rabbit, and it lays eggs… rabbits lay eggs, right? Anyway, we’ll dye the eggs pastel colors…”

I don’t recall eggs in the Bible, does Jesus even like eggs?

“Okay, well… then… we’ll hide them.”

The truth is, no one sits down and thinks of this stuff, we just do it. Some pagans did this stuff, and since we’re all the descendants of pagans… we do it too. Then the pagans were presented with the choice of believing in Jesus or death, and so here we are, a bunch of Christianized pagans (or paganized Christians, I don’t know).

Life is full of strange rituals. You could fill a book with the various rituals we have for eating. How we apply condiments, how we decide where to bite or how to cut, some people even eat a particular meal on the same day of the week, year after year. You could devote chapters to how people eat jelly beans or any sort of multi-flavored candy. Do you eat your least favorites first and save your favorites for last?

But about that wish… if there was such a thing as wishes, what will I wish for if I get the big part of the wishbone tomorrow? I know I’m not supposed to tell… but it would be for there to not be such a thing as wishes, because I can’t think of anything that could be more easily abused.

Saturday Reflection #5

Envy is the shadow of our greed in the light of someone else’s success.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

WTF Moment of the Month

I remember an article I read a few weeks ago, about a woman who was admitted to a Vancouver hospital with acid burns to her face

Storro said she held the press conference to draw attention to efforts to find the attacker, but also to talk about her faith.

“I’m here today because of Jesus Christ,” she said.

The strength of her faith will allow her to move forward, Storro said, though several times she said that the attacker coming forward to admit what she had done would be an enriching part of that.

“I have no enemies,” she said, “In time, I'm going to forgive her. Then I can move on.”
And you know what? I felt genuinely sorry for her. Even though her story was so stupid:

“For some reason I had this feeling that I needed to go buy some sunglasses,” she said. They ultimately saved the vision of a woman who has been partially deaf since childhood. “That's Jesus for sure,” she said.

“To be hard of hearing and blind. That would drive them crazy,” she said, laughing while motioning to her parents on either side of her.
Did you get that? She believes the urge to buy sunglasses was Jesus saving her vision. Hokey, but she’s deaf, so… I just look past it.

Then, the plot thickens…

It turns out, the whole thing was a hoax, and she is being brought up on charges. She threw acid in her own face and gave police a description of a black woman:

It boggles my mind… try reading those quotes above one more time, in retrospect.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Godwin’s Law, Pope Loses Debate

As a former Catholic, I can tell you this: no Catholic listens to everything the Pope says like a non-Catholic. Maybe it’s different in poor countries, but affluent Catholics pay about as much attention to the Pope as they do a spot on the wall behind their TV.

So imagine my shock when Catholics weren’t up in arms about the piping hot batch of Poperrific insanery cooked up in England this week. I’m sure the first time most of them hear about it is when a non-Catholic asks them what they think about it, to which most will say, “About that business we should be doing…”

So Benedict (who’s been a dick for a while now) compared secularism and atheism with Nazism. Maybe my time on the internet has jaded me and I just don’t even flinch at such a gross misrepresentation of Nazism. Those brave Aryans believed in God, “Gott Mit Uns,” “God is With Us.” It would be insulting to claim they were atheists, after all the devotion they displayed in glorious combat under the Iron Cross!

Then again, Benedict was in the Hitler Youth, so he might be privy to something we aren’t. Maybe the Pope saw Nazis as secret atheists who used religion to lure the naïve faithful into a veiled war on religion itself. And maybe 9/11 was done by Nazis inside the US who own the oil companies.

What would make the Pope want to say something outrageous? Perhaps he’s trying to distract people from what’s really dogging him, and make the debate about some other group that isn’t the Catholic Church? But what could be so horrible… oh right, the child sodomy.

Discussion: Religious Violence

Is religious violence one of the prime arguments in favor of atheism?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Discussion: HIV Transmission

I want to try just throwing out a question and having people discuss what they think, without any input from me. I might use points from the discussion in a seperate post, but I plan to not comment on any "Discussion" threads directly.

Question: Should it be a punishable crime to knowingly have unprotected sex with others if you have HIV, or perhaps some other sexually communicable disease?

Notes on When I Feel Blue

I’ve always been an observer. I don’t hesitate to participate when I feel comfortable, but even when actively engaged in something: I take careful mental notes of everything.

One thing any observer knows is that the more you talk, the less you can listen.

I should have lots of pent up thoughts to blog about. Apparently tons of religious stuff happened last week. But I observed something far more interesting: when I’m not in a good mood, I have no interest in religion, politics, or most of the pseudo-important things humans have dreamed up.

This was a bit of a surprise to me. I always thought of religion and politics as hobbies. When I’m not in a good mood, I retreat to my hobbies. I play video games, surf the internet for funny pictures and strange facts [some of which actually turn out to be true], play with my pets, watch movies… I pretty much give in to my most basic desires, which for me are luckily mundane.

I feel bad for people who drink, though not as bad as the people who need others to cheer them up. Streisand was dead wrong: people who need people are the most unlucky people in the world. Scratch that, second most unlucky people, behind the people needed. There’s nothing worse than someone else’s happiness riding on your shoulders.

About the worst thing I do differently when I’m not my usual jolly self is I get very egotistical. I rarely, if ever, write about myself being in a good mood, or about the fun things I do. I know bloggers who do that, and that’s fine, but… I just know vanity is not an attractive coat on me.

Oh, but it looks good on you…

I’d much rather open up when I am in an unenviable position. Vulnerability not only sounds more sincere, it’s more compelling. It’s why drama outperforms comedy, a fact that perplexes me to this day.

Why do people like a window into suffering?

My wife will kill me for saying this, but I’ll say it anyway: she likes too much drama. Not real life drama: TV drama, fake emotional roller-coasters playing out in a predictable story arch over the course of an hour. Though at least she doesn’t like reality TV drama.

The worst thing about any drama is that it’s usually an hour. It’s excruciating how long dramas are. The only comedy shows on TV that run longer than 30 minutes are sketch or variety shows. They say it’s because people can’t laugh for a whole hour, or because people can’t write a solid hour of comedy. Even comedic motion pictures run shorter than most dramatic pieces. Still, I prefer comedy to drama, and I am statistically unusual in this respect.

What is the appeal of drama? When I’m in a good mood, I don’t want to watch a bunch of people fighting over contrived nuances, nor do I want to see such nonsense when I’m in a bad mood. Aristotle claimed that drama provides “catharsis,” but I think it just gives people bullshit ideas on how the world works and how they should act, with an emphasis on making the lives of others more difficult and stressful by arguing about everything.

I give my wife shit for liking TV drama all the time, more than she deserves, but I would argue I got the idea from drama. In comedies, people make snide remarks and everyone goes on being the same person they were at the beginning of the episode. In dramas, the protagonist takes active steps to alter the world to meet his needs, and resistance is seen as compelling.

Both my pointed complaints and her desperate pleas are reinforced by drama on TV.

Yet, I don’t know if I like the idea of everyone going around messing with how stuff works. The idea that “one person can change the world” upsets and disturbs me, because it never seems to be the light-hearted jokers who take the bull by the horns. It’s usually some jackass who’s determined to tell other people what to do. Why should I assert myself when it comes to what is on TV? Who am I to say what others do?

Maybe that’s the problem with people: those of us who are inclined to change the world are inherently doing it for the wrong reasons, while those who would change the world for the better would also never try to mess with it.

To make matters worse, we live in a culture that thinks motivation is a virtue, which I think only encourages this careless tinkering behavior. You show me a lazy bum on a couch laughing at fart jokes and I’ll show you someone who isn’t bothering anyone. The people in our society who seem to be the most motivated are serial killers and politicians. I don’t even know which is worse (hint: serial killers only kill a few dozen people per year).

However, consider this: the media you expose yourself to will end up defining you. If you watch a bunch of depressing shit on TV, you will tend to see things in that perspective. You will be a depressing person to talk to, because the conversations we hear (whether in person or on TV/radio) provide us the social scripts we use in day-to-day life.

You know how they say in a courtroom, “Please describe for us, in your own words…” Well, you don’t have any of your own words. You’re just borrowing them (I think technically they belong to the Queen of England).

Not only that, the way you construct your sentences, the phrases you use, the expressions you repeat… these are all borrowed, and not from thin air or directly from a dictionary. We get them from that to which we are exposed.

[For example, that last sentence seems awkward, but is grammatically correct because I didn’t end it with a preposition. I know because I tutored grammar… and it would piss off the Queen if I misuse her language.]

Sociologists call this phenomenon “social scripts,” and they are arguably one of the primary defining characteristics of a person. Often a person’s social scripts are mistaken for their “personality.” I don’t even know if such a thing as personality really exists… it’s more of a composite of what messages a person sends off and how they are interpreted by the observer. A person’s personality is every bit as dependent upon how others react to them as what that person is actually saying, and I’m not sure you can attribute qualities of the observer to that which is observed.

Maybe this is why the term “charismatic” has meant so little to me. From my perspective, no one seems to have charisma because I see everyone as being a joke, and I consider it my duty, nay, my pleasure to search for the punchline. It is hard to see charisma in others if you take no one seriously.

I like my life as a comedy. I like that my wife comes home from work and unwinds by watching mindless dramas with brain-dead writing which I can use as fodder for jokes. [It’s also nice to know that if I ever suffer a serious head injury, I could still pursue a writing career in dramatic television: blah blah blah, “it’s my choice,” blah blah blah, “making choices is hard” blah blah blah, “I always loved you,” blah blah blah, someone dies.]

I like that when I go to bed and wake up tomorrow, my life will be pretty much the same, another episode where nothing has changed from the one before. I can’t tell my past from my future from the present, and that will make it easier to enjoy when I’m syndicated in reruns.

Remember, we call today “the present” because it’s a gift: it rarely turns out to be what you wanted, and you usually enjoyed it more before you opened it and found out it’s socks, again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Well Wishes

I haven’t been feeling great lately, and that results in me not writing much. It might be from posting so much in such a short time over two blogs. It might be that I’ve been busy on weekends with social stuff, which wears me out. It might be from knowing my mom is getting a kidney transplant next Wednesday from my aunt. It might be all chemical, as some doctors believe. It might just be that you can’t feel great all the time.

Whatever it is, I feel like a beach ball at a concert that gets batted around. Not when I’m feeling down, just normally. I like being swatted around aimlessly, an amusing whimsy bouncing around through a breathtaking performance shared by many, not the center of attention, but with everyone wanting to simultaneously come near me and strike me.

But lately I’ve felt deflated. I no longer rebound when I take an impact. I just absorb the blow with a thud, fall to the ground, get trampled on until everyone goes home, and I finally get cleaned up by minimum wage custodians the next morning.

I wanted to post this days ago, but frankly… I hate well wishes. I think people who pray for others or try to “send good vibes” are counter-productive. You can’t go around doing nothing and then pretend (even just to yourself) that you helped.

That’s all wishing someone well is: a meaningless gesture, an empty ritual. You don’t deserve to feel better just by repeating meaningless clichés at someone with a frown. I don’t feel lonely, nor do I feel unappreciated; if anything, I am perplexed at why so many people care about me, despite my best efforts to be a curmudgeon.

I guess I fail at that, like I fail at finding a job. Add it to the list…

So if you feel bad about the fact that I’m deflated, save the sentiment for someone else. If you really feel you have to do something… blow me.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two Dudes: Business

Sushi is Gay

Imagine that hot dogs are the only food normal Americans eat. However, sometimes when someone is away from home, perhaps off at college, in the big city, willing to try new things, they may have a friend who takes them to a sushi bar.

Everything is different in these sushi bars. The way the food is prepared, what the food is, how it smells, how it tastes. Sure, kids make fun of sushi on the playground growing up, but for some weird reason, many feel oddly right eating sushi later in life. They like it and swear off hot dogs forever, realizing they never really liked them and only went along with it at family cook outs.

Sushi is certainly an acquired taste, combined with the stigma associated with uncooked meat. The mental repulsion from the pre-conceived notion of sushi may be enough for most people to not even try it, or for those who try it to be unable to enjoy it, even if their tastes are such that they might like it otherwise.

People in small towns may not even see sushi as an option. Sure, you may have queers off fishing in a pond after dark in a state park somewhere, trying to get their fish fix, but for the most part, people would be eating hot dogs. Even people who didn’t like hot dogs might find themselves just eating them to fit in or due to a complete lack of variety.

Then these sushi bars start opening everywhere, and the older generation scoffs. They are set in their ways. Many of them may not even like hot dogs, but they have been broken down and are too accustomed to their old habits and tastes to try anything new.

But the young people, they try the sushi. Their elders chide them, perhaps even jealous of the joy they express at finding something they enjoy more than hot dogs. Maybe some in that older generation sneak out late at night to try a California roll or two, but they lie about where they’ve been, maybe even drink a ketchup packet to disguise the fish on their breath. These are usually the ones who vocally fear that sushi will completely replace hot dogs.

The young people don’t even care. Sure, most of them still eat hot dogs, but they don’t seem so angry about the option of sushi being available. Most don’t even try it, and plenty still mock those who do, but they are by and large more accepting than the traditionalist generation before them. Many even like hot dogs and sushi, much to the disgust of those who think you have to “pick one.”

The older generation crusades against sushi. They warn of sushi-borne disease, while ignoring the fact that hot dogs cause plenty of people to become ill. They claim sushi is not healthy, even though eating hot dogs all the time isn’t healthy either. They claim Jesus never would have eaten sushi, even though he hung out with a bunch of fishermen. Nevermind that there is no mention of Jesus ever eating a hot dog in the Bible…

But honestly, who would eat something that tasted fishy when you could stick six inches of hot meat between some buns and then shove it down your throat?

To me, this is essentially the situation we have in America when it comes to homosexuality.

I think liberals try desperately to say “sexuality is genetic” because the idea that “sexuality is a choice” is utterly wrong. However, this is a false dichotomy: it isn’t one or the other, it is something else completely. It is not consciously controlled, nor is it programmed at birth.

If homosexuality was genetic, how does one explain ancient Greece, the Japan of our scenario? Every Greek male participated in homosexual relationships in ancient Greece, with few or no documented exceptions, just as most Japanese people have tried sushi. Does that mean Greeks are genetically predisposed to being gay, or that the Japanese are genetically predisposed to liking sushi?

Sexuality is socialization, and socialization is a powerful thing. More importantly, sexuality is a matter of taste. Taste itself may be partially governed by genetics, but it is also strongly influenced by socialization, the person’s psychology, past life experiences, and a whole litany of things which may be too complex to determine.

What’s more, just as trying sushi is not an issue of morality, homosexuality has nothing to do with morality. Sure, there are ethics involved in sex, just as there are ethics involved in food (i.e. you can’t eat other people), but there is no ethical dilemma behind sexual preference among consenting adults any more than there is behind one’s preference for non-human food.

Sexual preference is too complex to be “genetic.” No one is born wanting to have sex with anything; our only innate desire is to feel better. When we get hungry, we cry and someone feeds us. When we feel shitty, we cry and someone changes us. There is no sexuality in the equation until we discover that our genitals bring us pleasure.

There was a time not that long ago when people thought masturbation was wrong, and there are even those who still believe this to be so. But then a funny thing happened: we empirically proved that masturbating isn’t bad for us and that it turns out everyone was doing it this whole time. Hence, masturbation is largely no longer seen as wrong.

Since everyone was masturbating to begin with, it’s hard to say masturbation increased once this sea change in sexuality occurred. It will be interesting to see whether acceptance of homosexuality results in a culture of largely bisexual individuals, but I have my doubts that it will. Female homosexuality is already winked at, and while many ladies “experiment” with other women, by and large they settle on heterosexual relationships.

And guys everywhere thank them, because we all know women are settling for second best by deciding to pair with men.

My only question now is: why the stigma against male homosexuality? Doesn’t that just mean more women for the rest of us “straight” guys?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Reflection #3

Life is like a dick. Sometimes it gets hard for no reason at all, and you always wish yours was longer.

Two Dudes: Orwell

Christians and Sex

It has come to my attention that Christians are having boring sex. Christianity hammers an [un]healthy dose of shame and sexual guilt into the believer. Christians don’t even feel comfortable discussing sex in a constructive manner. Frankly, it’s no wonder so many Christian wives have never had an orgasm and so many Christian men are out having sex with male prostitutes.

But in a way, it’s a little perplexing. I had always thought that Christian sex guilt was just for show. Most Christians don’t wait until marriage, in fact I suspect most Christians don’t even marry the first person they sleep with. None of the Christians I ever slept with married me, and they didn’t seem too repressed.

Suppose someone actually followed the rules (no laughing, I’m being serious here). Having only one sexual partner your whole life would be a pretty tough gig.

Waiting until marriage and only sleeping with that person strikes me as worse than having never seen your spouse-to-be before the wedding. It’s like having never seen another woman, maybe because all the women where you live have to where some sort of clothing that covers everything, even their face [thank goodness no such place exists…]. Sure, you will never know what you never had, but I am positive you’ll still be able to tell if you get a dud.

There’s so much knowledge that can be gleaned from sleeping with multiple people.

Which got me thinking… I should share some of the lessons I have learned in my sexual life. I mean, I’ve already found the woman I want to be with for the rest of my life, and while I don’t advocate it as the only or best way, I am also monogamous. In all likelihood, if I don’t share this knowledge with others, all those sweaty fumblings in the backseats of cars will be wasted…

About that. Don’t try to have sex in the lot of public parks after dark. That’s a sure way to be interrupted by police officers. Nothing’s more embarrassing than stepping out of the backseat of your car wearing only your boxers and a condom in half an inch of snow, bare foot, and asking, “Is there a problem officer?”

Which reminds me: have sex early. You’re only young enough to sleep with 15 and 16 year olds for a short time: don’t blow it. You’ll need those awesome teen-aged romps in your memory in case you ever get stuck in a southern hotel with no cable.

Speaking of jerking it, make a serious effort to do it behind a locked door, unless you don’t mind talking to parents/roommates without making eye contact for a couple weeks. And don’t be one of those people who needs a lot to jerk off. You know what I mean…

Guys shouldn’t need more than an image and their hand. Lotion is just the first step towards dying, strangled in a closet with your dick in your hand. Women: limit it to one toy per guy you’ve dated (or one for every year you have been without a date), and only vibrators that run on batteries. If you have to plug it into the wall… let’s just say men find that a daunting act to follow.

I guess at this point I should say “always use a condom,” but honestly, I say use a condom until you’ve both been to the doctor and you know your partner won’t cheat on you. In truth, you can’t “know” they won’t cheat on you, but at some point you might as well risk it. You can only fuck through a balloon for so long, and you should be well acquainted with someone’s genital health after a half dozen months or so.

Which brings me to another point: don’t bother having too many one-night stands. I guess there’s some appeal to at least trying it out, but having sex with someone for the first time is often the worst sex you will ever have with that person. Not always, but more often than not. You don’t know what they want, they don’t know what you want, and having lots of short-term partners is a great way to get yourself an antibiotic prescription, or worse.

Even with condoms, most STD’s can be spread fairly easily. I’m always amused by the medically naïve who believe oral or anal are a substitute for safe sex. I always imagine their embarrassment when they try to explain that “cold sore” that pops up every few months, or having to smell the wart being burned off their asshole.

And on that note, I’m hungry, so I’m off to make tacos. I have to say, I had a lot of fun discussing sex, and maybe I should make it a regular part of my blog. I could start a feature called “Reservoir Tips” where I talk about this stuff all the time…

Friday, September 3, 2010

Why Bother

It’s the #1 and #2 story on Reuters, and it has to do with God, but I have trouble caring.

Stephen Hawking dropped the poetics and made his feelings unambiguous when it comes to the formation of our universe. The statement below, from his 1988 “A Brief History of Time,” is arguably one of the most cited quotes among theists who understand little or nothing about science:

If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason -- for then we should know the mind of God.

For some odd reason, Christian creationists have trouble understanding metaphor (Christians with poor reading comprehension skills… shocking). Hawking’s new book supposedly leaves little doubt regarding his stance on the matter.

Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist… It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.

Frankly, I don’t know how mathematical physics can determine this, but it’s always nice to see someone in public saying God does not need to be part of the equation of creation.

Does this mean creationists will cease being stupid? No. Does this mean creationists will stop quoting Hawking out of context? Certainly not. Will this cause more people to be skeptical of religion? I honestly don’t know. This is why I don’t understand why this story is so big.

Are people reading it and taking it to heart? As popular as it is, it has to be predominantly read by theists, so what are they getting from this story? Do they see just another elitist intellectual criticizing their sacred and cherished beliefs?

I’m left with more questions than actual understanding. But, I guess that’s science for you. Science can only explain things, it cannot come up with the answers. Religion has always been a great source of answers, even if they’re wrong, while science can only explain things to the best of our ability. Answers are meant to be final, while explanations lead to further questions and explanations, a sort of ever-increasing complexity of information.

In any case, Hawking has some explaining to do regarding his new work’s title: “The Grand Design.” It is doubtful this work will even cause creationists to pause, let alone stop in their tracks. If anything, they jump on any mention of a word that implies a creator (like “design”). I think a more appropriate title might have been, “The Grand Scheme.”

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Do You Wash It Off?!

Usually when someone says something I disagree with, I do not hesitate to berate them. Maybe this will be a good exercise in restraint, though I hope there’s no mistaking the fact that I think this idea is wrong.

Over at feeno’s blog, If I became an atheist, tinkbell13 (an atheist) voiced her opinion that she would not allow her child to go to someone’s “Sunday School” unless the child was 18 or if she went along. Tristan Vick, another atheist blogger, voiced his agreement.

I’ll start with my weaker, more snarky responses first, because I have so many problems with this mindset.

First of all, I have no interest in going to any church service, Sunday School, or any other sort of religious thing of any kind. For me to hold this stance would essentially mean I was barring my child from any religious exposure. I doubt this was the intention, but for all practical purposes, even in a best case scenario, it does limit your child’s religiosity to your own personal schedule and level of tolerance.

Second, what is the big deal with turning 18? Are you worried an orgy is going to break out? Seriously, why enforce age-biased stereotypes imposed by Christian society for the purpose of limiting exposure to things? I said it in the comments of the thread and I’ll say it again: there comes a point (around 15 or 16) that you just cannot control what a child does, and if you try, you’re a jackass and a horrible parent.

Those last few years are wasted if you force them to hold your apron strings the whole time. They should be out doing stupid things, making mistakes, testing their limits, and not under your guidance. It isn’t easy, but being the parent of a “child” who is essentially an adult means stepping back and letting them fall down so they learn to stand on their own. Yes, you can help them get back up, but you’re doing a great disservice if you force (or even let) them lean on you.

Third, and perhaps most important: how dumb do you think your kid will be, and how horrible of a parent do you anticipate becoming that everything can be overturned in one day of religion? You shouldn’t raise your child to be atheist, you should raise your child to be an adult, because that cannot be undone.

Even if having a child who is an atheist is important to you, even if you think religion is the ultimate evil in the world, do you really give yourself and your children so little credit that you believe drinking some Juicy Juice while having a Bible story read aloud will screw up your kids?

“But Ginx, Juicy Juice isn’t organic and the Bible is evil!” Chill out, my uptight atheist friends.

If that weren’t enough, tink blew my mind when she suggested infant baptism should be illegal. I think she has been taking the ramblings of “New Atheists” and their claims that religion is child abuse a little too far.

I don’t get it. I’m pretty confident that tink realizes baptism does nothing to the baby. It doesn’t make the baby Christian or even more likely to be Christian. In fact, some of the best atheists were baptized (the Catholic Church alone is responsible for some of the most outspoken atheists, like Bill Maher and George Carlin). Baptism is not a danger to atheism, and to be honest… an infant baptism is like a funeral. It’s not really a ritual for the benefit of the central personage, it’s more for those who are close to the person involved.

Beyond silly opposition to an equally silly cranial bathing, this kind of mindset is actually quite a dangerous precedent. Telling people how they can or cannot raise their children is nothing to be taken lightly.

I’m assuming tink agrees that it’s harmless for same-sex couples to kiss in front of a baby without any worry of the baby catching the gay, but try telling that to some of the people who baptize their babies. Would you like to see same-sex kissing outlawed? You do realize we are grossly outnumbered, so opening this door cannot lead to anything good for us...

What about teaching evolution? Or discussion on abortion or sex? Do you want other people telling you that you cannot expose your child to your own thoughts and opinions?

One final note: it’s a known fact that teenagers rebel against their parents. If you really want your kids to grow up atheist, maybe you ought to force them to get baptized at 15. Nothing galvanized my atheism like my mother’s demand that I go through Catholic Confirmation.

I decided to reject all parts of religion, including the part about being intolerant of other beliefs. Anything less would be rejecting Peter to pay attention to Paul. Besides, having a kid who becomes a Christian instead of an atheist might be a great thing. At least then they can become President.

Wednesday Word: Pessimissed

Pessimissed: opportunity lost to negativity
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