August 25, 2019

What Caused the Flood That Required Noah's Ark?

Noah's ark

The story of Noah's ark was one of many that stood out to me, even as a young child, as implausible. But while most of the other children at Sunday School were focused on the logistical details about the number animals that could fit on a boat and the implications of having so many species sharing such a small space, my thoughts were elsewhere. I figured that fitting so many different animals on board could be a miracle, and I was willing to let that slide. I was far more interested in the source of the massive genocidal flood that made Noah's ark necessary.

The adults around me seemed to expect me to believe in a god that loved us despite it having rid the planet of virtually all humans previously. And why did it send the great flood that made the ark necessary? The humans at the time had upset it. They had exercised the "free will" we hear so much about and were subsequently exterminated by a "loving god." This was the main problem I had with the Noah story. The kind of god that would do this was anything but loving; it was a monster.

August 22, 2019

An Ex-Christian Atheist

atheist at church

I don't remember the first time someone told me I was human, male, White, American, or Christian. All I know is that these things probably happened before my brain was capable of forming lasting memories. That is to say, I would have been told these things at a very early age. The last of these (i.e., that I was a Christian) is a bit different from the others because I do remember being told that periodically throughout my childhood. It was usually presented to me as a part of my family's identity (e.g., "As Christians, we believe..."). I was part of the "we" being referenced, and this was one common way my parents told me that I was a Christian. Being a Christian was part of what it meant to be part of the family.

Although it would be fair to say that Christianity was forced on me as a child, I did internalize my indoctrination. As I've noted previously, I did believe. Perhaps that was easy because I initially thought Christianity was universal. As a young child, everyone I knew identified as Christian. Since I had yet to encounter someone who did not, I regarded Christianity as the norm. It was an important part of who we were. I suppose I had the kind of faith of which many Christians seem to be envious in that it was mostly unthinking. I took in what the adults around me said and rarely questioned any of it.

August 19, 2019

Western Democracies Were Shaped by Christianity

Medieval sword

One of the most persistent memes floating around the Internet is the notion that those of us living in Western democracies should be grateful to Christianity (and probably even withhold whatever criticism we might have of it) because our civilization would not exist without it. I have run into this over and over again since I started writing Atheist Revolution in 2005. While it seems to be especially popular among conservatives, I have seen it promoted by liberals too. Is it accurate in any way or something we should devote time to debunking?

If the argument is that civilization itself would not exist without Christianity, I think we can easily dismiss it. And yes, I heard this version from some. Many civilizations existed before Christianity, and many will likely exist after it (if our species can find a way to survive the climate crisis). Additionally, there have been (and still are) civilizations in the East that have not been based on Christianity at all.

August 18, 2019

A Brief Review of Halloween (2018)

The original Halloween (1978) is one of my favorite horror films. Even though I could do without most of the sequels, I've always regarded it as a near-perfect example of the genre. When I first heard that they were going to release yet another Halloween film in 2018, I was far from eager to see it. Rob Zombie had already done his best to butcher the original with his 2007 version, and I wasn't interested in any more of this. Why put myself through yet another take on the classic when I could just re-watch the classic yet again? I decided I was going to skip it and avoid reading anything about it.

In a moment of weakness, I ended up watching Halloween (2018) recently, and I thought I'd share some impressions. Overall, it was better than I expected, but I could not shake the feeling that it was largely a pointless exercise. It wasn't scary or even particularly engaging, and it did nothing to advance the Halloween franchise. It was not a bad film. It was just a film for which there was no reason except that the studios decided they could make money by making it.

August 17, 2019

Before You Describe Yourself as a Humanist in Your Twitter Bio...

La bibliothèque humaniste de Beatus Rhenanus / Humanist Library of Beatus Rhenanus

Canadian Atheist posted an interview with Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the American Humanist Association, that caught my attention. I've been wondering about something related to humanism recently, and it seems like Speckhardt might be an ideal person to shed some light on it. And sure enough, he addressed exactly what I was hoping he might in the interview.

Right off the bat, Speckhardt was asked about the definition of humanism. He responded with the following:

Humanism is the concept of being and doing good (for yourself and others) without reference to any gods or other supernaturalisms.