January 21, 2018

Conservative Religions Blame Women for Men's Inappropriate Behavior

"Blame the system not the victim"While writing a post about conservative Muslims in Bangladesh becoming so outraged at the sight of young girls surfing that they threatened them, I found myself thinking about efforts by conservative Christians to control women. It seems like there are some obvious similarities here in that both conservative Muslims and conservative Christians prefer to blame women for the feelings of sexual attraction men sometimes feel in the presence of women. Both groups push the value of modesty, albeit in different ways. But what I find most interesting here is the notion that women are ultimately to blame for arousing male lust. Men, it would seem, have no responsibility for how they feel or how they behave.

Feminists have long decried our tendency to blame the victims of sexual assault, and they have been right to do so. Responding to an instance of sexual assault with something along the lines of "she shouldn't have worn that" still happens far too often. The blame in these cases does not belong to the person who was assaulted but to the person who perpetrated the assault. This strikes many of us outside of conservative religions as fairly obvious; however, it appears to be far less obvious for those inside conservative religions.

January 20, 2018

Concrete Christianspeak

shadow photographerParking at work is sometimes a challenge. It is not uncommon for me to have to walk a bit between where I park and the building in which I work. While walking from my car into the building where I work, I had to cross a street. As I stepped up onto the curb, I happened to look down and saw that "Jesus Christ is Lord" had been scrawled into the cement before it was finished drying. By the look of the curb, it had been there for years, possibly decades. I found myself wondering who had written it and why. After all, this curb is found at a state university, supposedly a reasonably secular center of higher learning where students acquire critical thinking skills.

I decided that the person who vandalized the drying cement was most likely a student. Probably unfair but it was the conclusion I reached. I had a difficult time imagining the workers who poured the cement doing it. If someone saw them, they'd likely have some explaining to do and could risk losing a lucrative contract. Sure, it could have been a professor, staff member, or even some random person from the community. But I figured it was probably a college student.

January 17, 2018

Christian Privilege in Day-Care

Kids at daycareWhat if you were a restaurant owner and you learned that Christian-owned restaurants are exempt from health inspections? While you have to maintain rigorous health and safety standards in order to pass surprise governmental inspections, restaurants owned and operated by Christians had no such requirements. Sounds far-fetched, doesn't it? What if I told you that something much like this scenario was true - not for restaurants but for day-care centers?

When a parent sends his or her child to day-care, this is typically not a decision taken lightly. The parent has probably investigated countless day-care centers and asked trusted friends for recommendations. Cost is often a consideration, but safety is even more important. After all, we're talking about entrusting strangers with the care of one's child.

Who has the Burden of Proof?

Knowledge-Reid-HighsmithIn Who has the Burden of Proof? Atheism vs. Theism, Austin Cline (ThoughtCo) provides an outstanding discussion of something every atheist (and every religious believer) should understand. Atheism (i.e., a lack of belief in gods) is the default position, the place from which everyone begins. This means that the burden of proof always lies with the religious believer who is claiming that some sort of god or gods exist.

It is not necessary for the atheist to claim certainty that no gods could possibly exist. Atheism requires no such certainty. Typically, the atheist's position is simply that the religious believer has failed to meet the burden of proof. If that were to change (i.e., a religious believer comes forward with sufficient evidence to support god-belief), rational atheists would abandon atheism.

The religious believer is making a specific claim that a god or gods exist. Such a claim requires supporting evidence if it is to be accepted rationally. Without such evidence, it is not rational to accept it as true. This is why appeals to faith are offered in the religious context; however, it is important to note that such appeals are not accepted in any other context. If I tell you that I communicate with my dog telepathically, you'll ask for evidence. If I provide none but merely insist that you have to have faith that what I'm claiming is true, you'll rightly laugh at me. I see no reason why this shouldn't be the case when it comes to claims about gods.

January 16, 2018

Expanding Buffer With Evergreen Content: A Review of Hiplay

evergreen tree
I use Buffer for most of my social media activity. By scheduling tweets, Facebook posts, and the like to go out at specified times, I am able to get my content in front of people when they are most likely to be using these various platforms. And since I am rarely online when my followers are, this helps considerably. As happy as I have been with Buffer, it lacks some important features offered by a growing number of competitors. For example, Buffer offers no system for bloggers to use in distributing "evergreen" content.

In a blogging context, evergreen content refers to posts that do not go out-of-date quickly. That makes them posts that should be shared repeatedly over time. Most systems set up for distributing evergreen content work in a similar way: the blogger fills a queue with a couple hundred evergreen posts appropriately formatted for social media distribution (this works best on Twitter because of the short half-life of tweets), sets up a distribution schedule (e.g., Wednesdays at Noon and 3:00pm, Thursdays at 9:00am, 11:00pm, and 6:00pm, etc.), and the system distributes posts from the queue using that schedule. The better systems allow finer control (e.g., the blogger can set the minimum number of days before a post can be repeated). Unfortunately, Buffer does not do this.

Highlighting Christian Extremism to Stimulate Thought About Christian Beliefs

Geocolor Image of Hurricane IrmaIf significant numbers of atheists with large platforms for spreading their views consistently used their platforms to spread hate, bigotry, or assorted nonsense that was detrimental to society, I would expect many religious people to call attention to them. Many religious believers who were not fans of atheism would point to these atheists and say something along the lines of, "This is atheism."

Obviously, this could be misleading. Any group is going to have its share of assholes, and one must be careful about claiming that a small number of assholes is representative of the larger group in any way. But if there were enough atheists doing this regularly and if there seemed to be a high degree of convergence in the nonsense they were spreading, it would be hard to fault the religious believers for pointing them out like this. Even if they weren't representative of atheism, they would still be part of atheism. Their presence would be relevant and could raise troubling questions about what other atheists thought, especially if other atheists seemed to be enabling them in some manner.