Behind the Curtain

Image from here.

Image from here.

I read this awesome post by the amazing Arkenaten earlier today, and it got me thinking about the loaded terminology that some Christians use. Sometimes things get said that are unclear, but it will have a deeper meaning for people who still actively believe. It’s kind of like a famous wizard using a lot of props to mask what’s really going on behind the curtain.

At issue was whether belief in Young Earth Creationism (read: not science, but it uses science words so fundagelicals can’t tell the difference) was required to get into a good afterlife. Ark’s question was pretty straightforward, and he got a carefully worded, ambiguous reply. Here’s a reproduction of the first part of the reply (absent the silly, superfluous qualifications):

Whether born again through faith in Jesus Christ, or an unbeliever they both need to repent of letting man’s doctrine supersede God’s sure word.
If there isn’t any repentance then it is questionable whether or not one is a genuine believer[.]

Let me translate.
The really short answer to Ark’s question was, “Yes.” However, I had to truncate that second sentence down from a quite longer version. And to be fair, there was a reason why it was long and confusing. The author in question was trying to get away with saying everyone who didn’t agree with her was going to Hell. It’s a very pious way of denouncing other Christians as not being TRUE CHRISTIANS(TM) while being able to maintain a humble veneer.

People who might not be familiar with the subtext-laden jargon of fundy-speak also might not catch such significant statements. They seem fawning and earnest attempts to be polite, when the real meaning of what is said is a verbal shot across the bow. Questioning someone’s belief is nothing short of a spiritual character assassination attempt, and it’s a threat that is grave enough that people in churches have to respond to it.

Such things are what divisions in churches are made of. There are a ton of denominations that exist today because Elder A disagreed with Pastor B over whether or not the Bible said it was okay to fart on the Sabbath. It used to be that the Catholic Church would just burn you alive for disagreeing with Father C. But when Martin Luther got away with questioning authority, A and B could get back to bickering about the color of the unicorn again.

Challenges to belief, then, are serious in that if neither side backs down, we’ll see a huge shift in church doctrine. For Lutherans, the LCMS, WELC, and the ELCA all denounce every other Lutheran grouping of churches in the country as heretical. It’s like being in a rival gang, but without color coordination. And this happens with other churches too.

All of it gets hidden behind polite speech.
Notice there wasn’t an out and out threat of eternal damnation for other Christians that disagreed with the author. Such threats are unseemly for people who are commanded to love their neighbors (but only if they are Christian). One can’t just be a outward jerk to people who swear by a similar line of thinking. No, one must smile while twisting the dagger in another’s back.

I used to see it all the time. It’s why gossip is a HUGE part of Sunday meetings. You get to find out who is in drug rehab. Some people got caught having non-marital sex. Others might have tried to show up at church with a hangover (heh, okay that last one was me). And all of this was just what went on with my friends in the high school Sunday school crowd. The adults had even better stuff going on.

Yes, it would all get tossed around behind everyone’s back. Everyone was in everyone else’s business. People would act so surprised when a secret got out, every time. Divorces would result in politely shaming one spouse until the other left. Children with problems were talked about; mental illness stigma was rampant where I grew up. And all of it is done with cheerful pleading for God to forgive us our sins.

So what should be done about all this nice character assassination for Christ?
I think there’s a value in translating this stuff. It means a lot when one Christian questions another’s beliefs. Atheists can get denounced for not having faith. Other religious people get dismissed as being misguided. But when two people who fight over the same label go at it, some really important stuff drops out.

Even more important is to let those comments stand without interference. I know there is an instinctual urge to drive a point home when it is seized. In legal speak, it’s called “asking one question too many.” Essentially it’s getting a hostile witness to put all the stuff in place to make the conclusion you want…and then ruining it by asking the witness to agree to it. Congratulations, your case is destroyed.

It’s the same deal with this. I see Christian bloggers say all kinds of stuff that will make Christians intellectually question their beliefs. But the second an Atheist comes around to drive that point home, the confirmation bias and years of conditioning come into play.

I suppose what I’m really wanting to say here is that there are plenty of opportunities for people to see that their beliefs aren’t really doing themselves much credit. When dealing with faith, who the statement comes from is often more important than what is being said. There are Christians who advocate for some really batshit things in life. And there are more Christians who will try to hide it in plain sight.

Just tug on that rope, and let them see the wizard in all of his glory.

Knocked Over By The Beatles

This post is a part of the fabulous Merbear74’s 2nd Annual Beatles Contest. She’s got a few songs listed there, and to my delight, “Hey Bulldog” was one of them. Interestingly enough, I first heard the song on the “Yellow Submarine” soundtrack that came out with the re-release of the movie. It wasn’t like the other Beatles songs that I loved, and I was disappointed that it wasn’t on anything but the “Yellow Submarine” album.

Picking the song I wanted to write about, I became stumped. The song itself is believed by some to actually make no sense. Indeed, this was the 60’s, but really nonsense in music isn’t limited to that decade. At any rate, it wouldn’t be the first time John Lennon put some random stuff together for a silly little tune. If anyone has heard “I Am The Walrus,” that’s a good example of what I’m talking about.

Still, I think that John Lennon was a pretty smart person, and so I went to see if I could make something from the lyrics. Just a bit of a disclaimer: I couldn’t. Although, in my defense, I’m somewhat unable to understand lyrics in music. I can either pay attention to the instruments or the lyrics, but generally not both. Understanding my limitations, I proceeded to go to the comments to find this explanation of the song:

“John always tried to play off the meaning of his songs. This song is about insecurity and how some people act big, tough or great, but are really scared little people inside. They end up isolating themselves in the end (“If you’re lonely you can talk to me” – [John] always felt that he was different than everyone else when he was little and was insecure (“No one I think is in my tree”).” – Mick, Las Vegas, NV

That explanation, right there, made sense. Sure, the last part of the song is a bit of laughing and cutting up, but that’s to be expected when a band is just making music for the hell of it. The Beatles are having fun on this song, and I think it’s a great thing to be able to see an iconic group sharing some good times. It makes them more human, and it’s as good a reason as any to share in the happiness.

More importantly, though, is the message of the song. Sometimes people do things that makes them feel isolated from everyone else. I know I’ve done my share of them. But I think it’s important to remember that yes, it’s a good thing to talk about them with someone.

So if you haven’t heard the song yet, have a go at it. It’s a fun tune, and it can be as happy, thought provoking, or as lighthearted as you want it to be. As such, it illustrates how great the Beatles were as artists.

Quiet Morning

Sunday mornings are quiet for me because the family leaves to go to church and run Sunday errands. It’s one of the few times during the week when I can relax, except maybe when I’m out walking. I try to catch up on blogs and other things that need to be done, but I’m also thinking about other stuff when I do that. A lot of the times, I see religious paraphernalia and think about how my perspective has changed on it. Contemplating this sometimes is frightening, but sometimes it’s positive.

If one saw the house I live in, one would notice the trappings of faith everywhere.
There’s a sticker on my family’s fridge that reads, “Jesus rocks!” It’s got a picture of the Son of God with an electric guitar, strumming it like he’s played it all his life. Whenever I used to see it, I’d wonder how irreverent it would be. The sticker is a flippant expression of faith, intended to convey believing in Jesus is not only good but socially acceptable. Underneath it is an idea that makes Jesus “more of this world,” so I think it’s kind of funny that even a lowly depiction of Jesus rocking out would cause controversy among some Christians.

Other things dot the house. There’s a cross on my wall, Christian books on some shelves, verses painted on pieces of wood, and other little Precious Moments knickknacks. In the living room, there’s a giant honking picture of Jesus, a white guy with curly hair and an expression of something on his face. Letters from church, church paraphernalia, and other correspondence with crosses and verses on it are strewn about wherever my family leaves their mail.

Everyday I am faced with all of this, and it doesn’t usually register consciously. It really shouldn’t; all of that stuff is mere depictions of ideas others hold close. They no longer belong to me, and thankfully they’re familiar enough that I don’t notice them.

This morning, though, something else struck me. My family volunteers at the church they go to, the one I grew up in. The sanctuary needs to be decorated every week, and so families will take turns putting up banners, arranging flowers, and putting all the other stuff needed for a proper time of reading from old books and singing at a wall. A lot of energy goes into that, perhaps more than even some of the less involved congregants realize.

I realized that it’s a lot of energy devoted to a belief.
On some level, it’s not even just the decorations that matter. Those decorations have to be manufactured. The other items of worship have to be fashioned and delivered. Wine has to be poured if it’s a communion week, along with thin wafers put on a tray. White robes for the pastor and acolytes have to be taken care of. Money is taken in during the service, and refreshments have to be acquired and prepared for the after service fellowship. Building air conditioning and heating has to be turned on and running smoothly. Everywhere needs to be kept clean. And at some point, someone had to be paid to build the structure everyone shouts and chants and spends a seventh of their lives in.

I asked myself this morning, “To what end does it serve?” What I mean is that if one takes disbelief to a natural conclusion, all of this time, money, and effort is put into something that only pays back maybe in subjective feelings. It’s all done because some belief and social norms require dressing up on Sunday to chant and hear organ music.

That’s what I devoted most of my life too as well, and I did it all without thinking about it. Not once did I really honestly ask if nothing was out there, wouldn’t it make all of this silly? I’d be singing songs for nothing, getting terrified of eternal torture for nothing, and believing I’m an inherently moral person for nothing.

And then I wonder what if that devotion was put to a different belief.
This is the kind of thought that humbles me on a quiet morning. What if all these people believed that no child should ever go a night with an empty belly? Maybe time could be spent trying to connect with people of different beliefs, to understand their point of view instead of just relying on stereotypes and insular thinking. Energy could be redirected from singing at a wall and drinking bland coffee afterwards to giving homeless people warm blankets and hot coffee on a cold night.

In a more general sense, I wonder if maybe people will one day look back at all of this and think, “This is how small their lives were before we evolved.” I take a look at that schedule for prettying up an altar and sanctuary and consider that maybe the flowers could be given to victims of abuse, to let them know that they are valued and their humanity is recognized. Not even all the energy is needed. Just a fraction could improve things.

All it takes is a belief that one ought to do right by whoever is with us rather than whatever we can’t see.

Be Afraid…Or Something

Okay, so last night I had an unusual bout of zombie insomnia where I’m tired but can’t sleep. Going through my reader, I found this post reblogged in my reader (by hitchens67). The post had the Freedom From Religion Foundation TV spot above embedded in it, which I thought was a great ad. Apparently, the spot couldn’t be shown on major networks because it was too controversial.

These networks post some really amazing stuff (including the Nationwide Insurance ad that featured a dead kid in it, along with all kinds of anonymous 501(c)(3) ads during the 2012 election). Having the son of a former U.S. President get up and say he’s not afraid of burning in Hell apparently is a step too far. What gets me about all of this is that one fundagelical decides that he has to rant about why Hell needs to be feared. And all of this is in addition to the fact that this spot couldn’t get air time on major networks.

Talk about using any excuse to get pissed off.
I wanted to talk about the Christian Post article first because it lists everything that is wrong with Christianity in a succinct article. In fact, I’m probably going to keep the bookmark next time somebody tells me their faith is all about the warm fuzzies. At least here I will have the opportunity to call bullshit.

Anywho, the article’s best line reads, “Even though fear isn’t an illegitimate motive for getting right with God, it’s not His intention to scare us into obedience.” That line, the one I just quoted, is the dog-and-pony show that keeps rearing its ugly, stupid head in religious conversation in one form or another. Wording it more accurately, it should read, “Although it’s fair game to scare people into believing in God, I want to pretend to offer something else so you’ll ignore the terrible thing I just wrote.”

The hubris of this guy! Not only does his God exist, but he knows what God’s intentions are. I’m glad he’s got a clue, because the other 2 billion Christians out there sure don’t seem to know what their alleged deity is trying to do. There have been two thousand years of wars, infighting, bickering, debate, bloodshed, murder, rape, pillage, threats, and other nonsense dedicated to just on whether or not baptism should sprinkle or immerse, but the Good Lord has seen fit to bless this Reverend that God doesn’t really want to scare us.

And above all else, he’s using that knowledge to hide the fact that he just said it’s okay to terrorize people. Let that sink in. It is okay for people to threaten everyone with imaginary torture. Because God. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

There are some other gems in the comments below, too.
I caught one person trying to explain how someone isn’t afraid of Hell at all. That person did a great job, explaining that an Atheist’s fear of Hell is similar to a Christian’s fear of Jahannam (or Islamic Hell). Once again, I can’t make up the response this person gets.

“Quite false. Islam came along multiple thousands of years after The Truth was reveal to man, and 600 years after it was given to man as a gift via God’s Son.”

The person I quoted isn’t even an Atheist. Yet somehow this person feels qualified to tell others what they’re thinking. On top of that, this person also has the gumption to say that the correct view is false. And all of this is going on because one Reverend decided he really needed to remind people why they need to be afraid of the bad place in an ideology that one guy mocks in one ad.

This brings me to the actual disturbing part.
It’s bad enough that if a group of Atheists get a billboard mocking Christianity, it can get labeled by at least one public official as persecution. But to have major networks refuse to run an ad because there’s a side comment mocking Hell goes into awful territory. Every time there’s a Christian-themed program that hops on those networks (including an upcoming one on CBS), I don’t sit there and decry how religious people are getting to watch a program based on their faith beliefs.

This goes to show that there is major privilege associated with Christianity. When this privilege gets challenged, people will get silenced, marginalized, or labeled as hateful to Christians. So it isn’t really a big surprise that this advertisement by FFRF is getting some backlash. It openly mocks a core tenet of Christianity, the proverbial stick in its carrot-and-stick approach to gaining souls. And it doesn’t even mock in a crass or volatile manner. Ron Reagan is just being blunt about how he isn’t afraid of it.

I could understand if Mr. Reagan was, say, offering a hypothetical involving rape just to illustrate an erroneous point of how Christians lack human empathy. I could be sympathetic if the ad featured a claim that it’s okay for Atheists to use fear to encourage Christians to leave the faith. Hell, I’d get it even if Ron Reagan talked about how his own subjective beliefs should replace everyone else’s. But all he said was that he didn’t fear burning in Hell.

The jokes must continue.
Looking back on some of the crap I used to believe, I really think a lot of it was laughable. Drinking some wine and eating a wafer was supposed to absolve me of my moral failings. Lighting candles is really supposed to invoke a deity to show up? And sending a mental thought of acceptance to an offer that could have just been avoided by a divine entity is supposed to be the ticket into Heaven?

The best one was about how all the wisdom we need in life is contained in a heavily edited, poorly translated text that was written by the very people it was supposed to benefit.

Hell, maybe I should write my own Bible. I hear they sell quite well.

Owning One’s Views

The comments on my last post have got me thinking about a very important concept that has been running around in my mind for quite some time. I know I’ve posted before about how one of the things I realized when I deconverted is that I own my own views. For some people that never were invested in faith, it’s probably not as big of a deal. However, I think that after being discouraged to be responsible for one’s views, seeing things the other way around becomes more pronounced.

That’s another reason why I put a lot of energy into talking about religious authority and distinguishing between more radical faith structures within Christianity. In one manner, it does seem that at times it lets people off the hook for being responsible for their views. On the other hand, I think it seems this way because I don’t take the other direction to its logical conclusion. I’m prioritizing what I’m talking about because I live with people who still believe in God, and I get to see everyday what faith does to them.

On a practical level, all forms of disowning one’s views is unhealthy.
Early on in my life I had a belief structure that allowed for invisible forces to torment me and keep me reluctant from seeking adequate psychiatric care. Stigma and shame kept me quiet about what I was going through, but those were my decisions. Even though these decisions weren’t easy to make, especially since I started getting suicidal thoughts at 12, they were still mine to make. But I pushed them off, and I tried to “give these thoughts” to God.

Nowadays, I can see firsthand some examples of what disowning one’s views does to other individuals. All of a sudden, it makes one a victim of what happens to oneself. Others are seen as agents of either ungodly forces or worse, as unholy enemies. For those who are even more captivated by faith, entire groups of people can be seen as evil incarnate. So, on the sliding scale of things, one can go from either taking in life’s troubles as metaphors to hiding in one’s attic because Satan is out to get you.

On that scale, some things aren’t incredibly unhealthy (it really depends on other factors). And since I get presented frequently with the more unhealthy parts of it, my focus is skewed in that direction. But since there are different levels of unhealthy, I think they require different measures of response.

Where authority comes into this.
People who have been members of churches where there has been wrongdoing will have a better sense than I do about how authority changes things. The kind of authority I’m talking about is a form of psychological dominance, like Jim Jones had which culminated in the Jonestown massacre. Another idea of what I’m talking about is what was studied in the Milgram experiment.

Some churches do not take an active role in controlling conforming behavior. Other churches, though, have structures that are infused with gossip, rumor-mongering, and other informal ways of promoting certain behaviors. These behaviors can even be contradictory (like gossiping: allegedly a sin but done after morning service in so many places). Once again, there’s a sliding scale to this, from churches not paying attention to congregants who are sliding into the deep end to churches regulating what people should wear.

In this regard, some churches operate for all intents and purposes like cults. That they are members of a larger organization means they get to be glossed over for scrutiny. Since they don’t advocate expressly illegal activity, they get a further pass. This gives them free reign to allow behavior a lot of people would find abusive, especially to younger children.

Does distinguishing between views really let people off the hook for them?
I think it’s an important question to ask, for Theists and Atheists. Does getting so unreasonably angry about something justify getting into a killing frenzy? Not for most people.

What about for other views? Admittedly this is a shades of gray territory. Should I get uppity with the guy next door because he worships Cthulhu by having noisy crawfish boils at his place? Does believing Cthulhu exists at all enough to warrant an ugly comment every time he helps me mow the yard? What about on Internet forums?

I’m no Faitheist; I don’t agree with views that rely solely or even predominantly on subjective belief and little to no evidence. Sometimes, though, people will only have a passing faith in “something.” They’ll even sheepishly admit they should really examine a belief like that more closely. Should people still challenge that?

And on the other hand, when does saying nothing become the complacency that allows for harmful beliefs to be overlooked? By not reminding people of the ownership of their actions, one might confuse that for acceptance of those actions. It’s a tough call, I think.

One last thing.
I think owning one’s beliefs is empowering, and I think it is fair. Even when one believes that one is being moved by something else that’s invisible and rhymes with Arthropod, the actions that follow are still owned by those that commit them. While other social forces are at play (and should be mitigated), every person must govern his or her own actions.

That being said, it’s incredibly difficult to see that play out. Sometimes other points can be ignored, but other times ignoring things is part of the problem. If there was a right answer here, I think that person would deserve a medal and a free trip to Stockholm to pick up a Peace Prize. But I think it’s a burden and a problem for every human being, and until that time when we find the best answer, we should encourage each other to shoulder that burden when reasonable.

Argument Netiquette

It’s a well-known fact (read: complete fabrication) that the Internet was invented so people can give advice on things they know nothing about. In that spirit, I’ve decided to write about proper Internet argument techniques. Nothing pains me more than to see people arguing about something on the Interwebs and doing it wrong. They do crazy things like cite actual studies, or use respectful language, or even remain amicable despite not being able to agree on something. Well, it is my hope that this post will put an end to this nonsense once and for all.

No, there’s no need to thank me.

1. Making things up is better than doing research.
Did you know that food causes more deaths per year than cigarette smoking? I bet you didn’t, but now you do. Why don’t we see surgeon general’s warnings on food packaging? That’s because of a conspiracy between Congress and Big Food. Don’t believe me? You must be working for them.

See how easy that was? I was able to prove I was right by saying everyone else is wrong. No research necessary. Facts only get in the way of good, opinion-based swearing contests. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking logic is useful.

2. Don’t forget to make it personal.
Everyone who disagrees with me is a felon. No wait, they are felons with bad hair and nauseating body odor. There is a direct correlation between body odor and propensity to lie, so what I’m really saying is that these people are liars and not to be trusted. It isn’t easy being right all the time, but it is easy being better than everyone who doesn’t share my views.

Also, everyone who disagrees with me is morally bankrupt. You can take my word for it, because I never lie about stuff this important. Since what I wrote was in italics, it has to be true.

3. Speaking of different key stuffs, RESORTING TO CAPS LOCK MAKES YOUR WORDS MORE TRUE.
Consider the following two sentences:

A. I am secretly a space overlord who deserves to have his own island in the South Pacific.

B. I AM SECRETLY A SPACE OVERLORD WHO DESERVES TO HAVE HIS OWN ISLAND IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC.

Notice how the latter sentence has larger letters? See how these letters broadcast the message more clearly? Have you deduced the point I’m trying to make?

IT’S THAT USING CAPS LOCK MAKES WHAT ONE SAYS 53% MORE TRUE. OBVIOUSLY IF YOU’RE A TERRIBLE DEBATER, HIT THAT CAPS LOCK BUTTON AND CRUISE TO INTERWEBS ARGUMENT VICTORY OVER YOUR STINKY ENEMIES.

4. Use “quotation marks” to “express doubt” over what “other” people “say.”
Quotation marks may properly be used to quote others, but they also can be used to “cast doubt” on “dubious expressions.” The trick to doing this is to only put them around “one” or “two words.” Occasionally, some phrases require more than two words, so I’d stay away from those. Instead, just blame the person for being “too smart.”

I can’t stress enough how this tactic gets “overused.” This is a “rebuttal” technique, only appropriate for times when you’re casting “aspersions” on others’ “well-thought” arguments. Don’t open with “this,” or you will “feel sorry.” However, with all rules, you can do “air quotes” around more than two words if you are actually speaking them. Take the “example” below for instance:

5. Last, but not least, when all else fails, call someone a Nazi/Communist/Genocidal Maniac/Democrat. Or use a synonym, like Republican.
Nothing wins arguments like labeling the other person. Just be careful with this one. If you bring up Nazis first, you lose. Them’s the rules in the vast expanse of untamed information superhighway that we call the Internet. Therefore, this one has to be used the most carefully.

Knowing is half the battle. Or maybe it’s 3/4 of the battle. You get the point.
Now that I have written this epic piece of TRUTH for everyone on the Internet, nobody has ANY excuse to be polite to anyone else. While that may make you “popular” with “people” in the “real world,” it doesn’t make you a “good person” on the “Internet.” Remember: LOGIC, RATIONAL THINKING, AND CIVILITY ARE THE ENEMIES OF ALL THE INTERNET WAS FOUNDED FOR.

So don’t be a Nazi/Cyborg/Warmongering Teaparty Hack. Follow proper netiquette, or else you will be a stinky felon who is 98% more likely to develop genital warts on your face. Thank you.

Amoral Majority

This latest rant by Phil Robertson (of “Duck Dynasty” fame) is a great example of how the idea of objective morality is used to keep Theists in the flock and quietly submissive (trigger warning for the link: the quote mentions rape and murder). Essentially Mr. Robertson is saying that Atheists can’t complain if a crime is being committed right in front of them. It’s a common occurrence on Christian blogs, sometimes given a slightly different tweak to instill fear at a monolithic, uncaring Universe (note: I linked to Mak’s article about a pastor using the tweak). Either way, the point is create an unreasonable fear of not having God to guide one’s moral compass.

Oh, the lengths we go to in order to keep people under heel.
Violetwisp noted in this post about how people have a different sense of morality despite feelings of being commanded by a deity. Mentioning examples of slavery, women driving in Saudi Arabia, and right to die issues are but a few of the quagmire of life’s situations which give people different moral systems which might be as unique as a fingerprint.

Still, I keep seeing objective morality touted as the only means by which one can declare, “What you did was wrong.” And of course this is important, because the ability to unequivocally declare something right or wrong gives a person power. By saying a thing is prohibited, there is a judgment handed down. To judge is to be important enough to say something with authority. This authority, as I’ve pointed out before, is important to fundagelical Christianity.

Moreover, the “objective” nature of this alleged morality is expanded to encompass the the entire moral universe. This is a pretty large commandment from such a small hunk of rock in one tiny part of known space. Going to such lengths capitalizes on the daring of those who make the claim; it does not make the claim any more accurate or correct.

There’s a reason why the claim is wrong.
That reason is because of what Violetwisp and others point out; morality is only as good as it is agreed upon. Take laws and personal compunctions against killing out of the mix, and one might see it happen more often. Even when one has a strong faith belief in something, it doesn’t stop that person from going to great lengths to abuse others. Plenty of people from any belief label do terrible things because personal morality failed them.

Naturally, there is a usual response that tries to get around this. They weren’t TRUE CHRISTIANS(TM), or they were tempted by Satan. Regardless, this response still doesn’t address the fundamental claim of objective morality. If one accepts the religious claim, one is supposed to be helped through divine power. Things are right or wrong, and the deity will help people do what is right.

It also doesn’t address the problem that even if there’s a deity (which is a HUGE allowance), the message has to be conveyed and accurately adopted by every individual person. So many appeals to FREE WILL(TM) at least allege a notion we have choice, and so everyone must choose to be moral. At the least, then, objective morality is completely meaningless because people still have the option of taking or leaving it.

Why go to this trouble in the first place?
It’s a form of gaslighting, where people are told they are incapable of being decent people without drinking the Christ-Aid. Think about the claim. No one can tell what is right and wrong without an invisible deity to let us know. The only way for us to know is to listen to the person telling us about God. Pretty convenient.

If I told people that no one can be happy without praying to Puppykins (a cheap pointer to the NaNoWriMo rough draft at the top of the page), I’d be laughed at – and rightly so. That’s because my artificial claim is open and apparent. However, if I had a bunch of people already believing it I could use social forces to get new people to join up. The beauty of all of it is that I also have a ready made reason for why nobody can leave.

I want to be clear: objective morality as it is practically used by fundagelicals is emotional manipulation of the worst order. It is the wolf of social control cloaked in the proverbial sheep’s clothing of morality. It causes people to doubt their better judgment. And it causes people emotional harm when they don’t live up to unrealistic demands.

This is why when I see a claim about objective morality, I usually find amorality instead.
Inducing a fear response to keep someone believing something is a pretty low blow by most peoples’ standards (no God required). When I was a Christian, I was just as beholden to it as the next flock member. Looking back on it, I think it’s an idea that really should be questioned for what it is rather than the superficial smoke and mirrors surrounding it.

If I was talking to Phil Robertson, I’d ask him why he had to pick a graphic example of home invasion, rape, and murder. Why be so graphic, except to gloat over even a hypothetical Atheist’s misfortune? To the pastor who felt that an uncaring universe is devoid of meaning, I’d ask if his or her happiness depends on the misery of others. One doesn’t avoid cruelty if nothing has meaning.

And for the generic “you can’t say something is wrong” claim, I’d say I can and will. I’ll start by saying that amorally manipulating others is pretty damn inexcusable. The great thing is that I don’t think I’m alone on that.

One-Liner Wednesday: Running On

Writing a run-on sentence is easy just forget to use a period, semicolon, proper capitalization, a question mark, an exclamation point, and proofreading.

Author’s Note: This is part of the wonderfully amazing and highly acclaimed Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday writing prompt. Click the link to go take a look at all the other one-liners, and contribute one of your own!

Growing Pains

I put up a post on my mental health blog about how my output is diminishing. I’m just now getting around to linking to it here because I’ve also been ill the past several days. It’s not that I’m running out of ideas to write about; it is that I’m on new meds that I’m having to adjust to.

Really it’s fairly miraculous (heh) that I’m writing a complete sentence without butchering the English language. I envision the next couple of weeks to not have as much output because it takes time to get used to anxiety medications. That being said, I might try to reblog stuff or open up the floor to guest posts. If guest posting on a small blog like mine interests anyone, feel free to drop me a line at: siriusbizinus@yahoo.com

Anywho, I’ll still try to post as frequently as my blogging muse hits me.

Eclectic Corner 8: Colorful Haiku

IHeartEclecticCorner

Rain falls from gray clouds
A ray of sunshine pokes through
New rainbow above

Author’s Very Long Note: Justine Nagaur over at “Eclectic Odds n’ Sods” hosts the Eclectic Corner every fortnight over at her blog. It’s a great writing challenge that’s laid back, and not to mention it’s a great opportunity to interact with other bloggers. I didn’t get an entry in for the last one because my short fiction muses decided to hold out on me.

This time around, the challenge is about a splash of color. Since I’m only good at taking pictures of my fingers, I’ve decided to submit a haiku. Click on the link above to find out all the rules for other entries (photographs are one of them!).