September 21, 2017

3 Steps for Converting Atheists to Christianity

What I am about to write is going to be a review for most atheists. At least, nearly every atheist I have encountered over the years seems to be at least moderately familiar with what I am about to outline. I am writing it because I still come across a surprising number of Christians for whom it seems completely novel. For that reason, I think I'll write this post as if the reader was a Christian.

Christians, I see quite a few of you using very old and thoroughly discredited arguments (i.e., apologetics) in an effort to convince atheists that some sort of god is necessary to explain creation, morality, or something else for which no supernatural beings are necessary. I understand why you might do this. The arguments have already been developed by Christian apologists, so all you need to do is learn them and hope to find an atheist who is unfamiliar with their rebuttals. Relatively little thought is required for this sort of thing. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to change many minds despite what your pastor may tell you. Christian apologetics are not nearly as persuasive as evidence would be. And so, if you really want to put an end to atheism once and for all, providing atheists with evidence sufficient to demonstrate the existence of some sort of god is going to be your best bet.

September 19, 2017

On the Evil of North Korea

Kim Jong-unIf there is one thing the mainstream news media in the U.S. seems to agree on, regardless of whether we're talking about those platforms that lean to the left or to the right, it would have to be that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is crazy. He's routinely depicted as an unpredictable man-child given to irrational fits (not at all like the U.S. president), and we are told again and again that this makes him especially dangerous. Whether one is watching Fox News or MSNBC seems to matter little in terms of how he is presented or what we are told about the acceptability of North Korea gaining access to the same sort of weapons of which we have an abundance.

When it comes to Kim Jong-un being crazy, I'm not so sure. He seems to be sticking rather closely to the sort of policies we've seen from North Korea for several decades. If he was as crazy and unpredictable as we keep being told he is, I'd expect some puzzling departures. Given the history of U.S. relations with North Korea, I'd think a sign of craziness might be if he suddenly warmed toward us and began working to improve our relationship in a way no previous North Korean leader had done. If he were to abruptly set aside everything his nation had done in the past and go in a very different direction, we'd be right to be worried.

I'm also not sure it is crazy for any leader of a country without nuclear weapons who feels threatened by countries with nuclear weapons to desire nuclear weapons. In fact, this seems perfectly rational. Kim Jong-un would have to be crazy not to notice that the U.S. behaves quite differently in our dealings with countries that have these weapons vs. those that do not. And if he did notice this difference, why wouldn't he want his country to be one of those that had these weapons? Wouldn't he be crazier if he abandoned his pursuit of nukes?

September 18, 2017

Opening Up Commenting at Atheist Revolution

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By Pianopianissimo, Link
Since 2009, readers wanting to leave comments on posts at Atheist Revolution have been required to have an IntenseDebate or account. This change was implemented primarily to reduce comment spam. Once readers got used to it, I rarely heard any complaints.

As of today, I am temporarily lifting this requirement. Why? I received a request to do so, and I'm curious to see if the change will result in an increase in commenting. While the open system is in effect, people can comment from their IntenseDebate and Wordpress accounts but should also be able to do so using their Facebook and Twitter accounts too. And yes, I'm also curious to see whether this change will produce a noticeable increase in comment spam. If it does, we'll return to requiring IntenseDebate or Wordpress accounts.

September 17, 2017

Clinton on What Happened

Hillary Clinton - What HappenedI caught the first part of Hillary Clinton's interview with Judy Woodruff on the PBS NewsHour this week, following the release of her new book. With one glaring exception, I thought she came across reasonably well. I even found myself able to empathize with how difficult the experience of losing an election everyone told her she couldn't lose must have been. The exception, not surprisingly, was that she still seems reluctant to accept the bulk of the responsibility for her loss.

She did acknowledge that she had something to do with her loss during the interview, and I must give her credit for that. On the other hand, she distributed blame to so many others factors (including sexism and misogyny) that her acceptance of responsibility seemed disingenuous at times. I thought that her worst moment came when she attempted to present herself as someone who unites people with diverse views and bridges divides. I could not reconcile this with her campaign rhetoric (e.g., "deplorables", pushing prayer, or taking unnecessary swipes at atheists) or with the implicit suggestion that she lost due to voter sexism and/or misogyny. Her self-perception as a uniter seems at odds with the reality.

September 16, 2017

Donating to 'Racist' Disaster Relief Organizations

Red crossWith so many natural disasters in the news recently, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see a number of articles and social media posts condemning disaster relief organizations and suggesting that those of us who donate to disaster relief organizations should stop doing so. The first one I saw claimed that the Red Cross is "racist" and not worthy of our support. It did not provide any basis for this accusation but approached it as if it was common knowledge. Another argued that no national or international organization was capable of effectively assisting with disasters and that we should only support local groups. The most recent one I saw claimed that the Red Cross had too much money, was inefficient and likely corrupt, and that we should not support them.

I'm not sure what to make of these claims. When a disaster strikes, many of us want to donate to help the victims. We recognize that our local, state, and federal governments do not do nearly enough to help people impacted by natural disasters. We recognize that even the victims who had insurance typically have a very difficult time obtaining the compensation for their losses in a timely manner despite the fact that they have been paying their insurance company on time. I think it is natural that we'd want to help, part of our humanistic impulse perhaps.