February 16, 2020

Intrusive Christian Proselytizing Needs to End Now

bench bicycle bike

Many Christians have told me over the years that they do not personally convert anyone to Christianity or save any "souls." They insist that only the god in which they claim to believe can do these things. I suspect they may do this, at least in part, because they sometimes hear how arrogant they sound. "Fair enough," I say, "Then why is it that I only see you on my front porch spouting drivel and not your god?" It seems like a waste of everybody's time, although I have to admit that my only real concern here is my time. If the proselytizing Christian wishes to waste their time, they are free to do so but need to go somewhere else.

Some Christians, presumably the more evangelically-inclined, will offer something about how they are "called" to spout their preferred form of nonsense to anyone who might listen. Others will go so far as to claim that their god is using them (i.e., working through them somehow). As ineffective as they are, that always strikes me as an incredibly poor choice for such a wise being to make. If it was interested in converting me, it could probably come up with a more effective means of doing so. In fact, I have a hard time imagining a less effective approach than the never-ending parade of proselytizing Christians!

February 15, 2020

The Limits of Tolerance

Painting by Titian of Tarquinius' son raping L...Image via Wikipedia

As you have undoubtedly observed, some atheists are fond of calling on other atheists to be more tolerant of religious belief, nicer to religious believers, and the like. There may be some merit in doing so, especially if one is interested in changing minds. People tend to be more receptive when they feel respected or at least not attached. Still, it might not be a bad idea to think through these suggestions a bit before we all hop on the tolerance bandwagon and convince ourselves that we should withhold criticism of an irrational and dangerous belief system.

In my experience, those calling for increased tolerance of religious belief are often aiming to silence criticism of religious belief. I am aware that this is not always the case, but it often seems to be the case. As a result, many atheists are not what I might call receptive to such suggestions.

Do you know what a rape myth is? Briefly, psychological research has demonstrated that male rapists and other men predisposed to commit acts of sexual violence against women are more likely than the average man to hold erroneous beliefs about male-female interactions, female sexuality, and the like. In non-offender samples (e.g., male college students), the tendency to agree with rape myths has been associated with negative attitudes toward women and more positive attitudes toward violence against women.

February 12, 2020

Which Candidates Best Match Me? Buttigieg, Sanders, and Warren

eagles

I took another one of those online political quizzes the other day that is designed to calculate one's match with each candidate. I think this one might have been isidewith.com. It identified me as matching very well (i.e., 93-95%) with three Democratic presidential candidates. There was a drop-off after that, indicating that there was some match with a few of the remaining candidates but that it was quite a bit lower than the top three.

Two of the top three candidates came as no surprise: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I would have been very surprised if these two had not been among the best matches because they are the two I would have identified as being the best match. The third was a surprise: Pete Buttigieg. I knew I liked him, but I thought he was quite a bit more moderate than Sanders and Warren. According to this, he was a comparable match.

Since the question of which candidate(s) I like the best is an easy one compared to the question of which candidate(s) I think have the best chance of winning a general election, I thought I'd size up each of these three and their chances.

February 9, 2020

For Those Who Are Curious About What Atheists Want

deer

I guess the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer. Atheists are far too diverse for me to be able to reasonably claim that we all want anything. The best I can do is talk about what I want or try to address some of the most common things I hear from atheists about what they want while recognizing the diversity. But...(you had to know that was coming)...I did want to share one very brief thought with you about something I'd bet almost all atheists could agree we'd like to see.

Imagine a scenario where an elected official or someone running for political office says something most reasonable people find racist, sexist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic. I realize we don't have to stretch our imaginations much because this sort of thing still happens. And when it happens, the response is usually one of understandable outrage. It isn't that these scenarios are always (or even usually) career-ending; however, there is usually a response that makes it clear to the guilty party that they probably shouldn't have said what they said.

February 8, 2020

A Brief Review of Us (2019)

Us (2019)

It has to be hard for a new horror director with a hit debut to follow it up without the result being a massive disappointment. I thought Jordan Peele's debut film, Get Out (2017), was pretty good despite not being very effective as a horror film, so I was a bit nervous about seeing his next film, Us (2019). Would it show that he was improving as a director, or would it be a flop compared to his first film?

Fortunately, I enjoyed Us. Compared with Get Out, it initially seemed to be a more traditional horror film and did not have the same sort of social message (although it certainly still had one). There was some controversy about whether Get Out should even be considered a horror film, and I don't imagine that would be the case here. At the same time, it was clearly more than a horror film just as Dawn of the Dead was more than a horror film. Us was just weird enough to be interesting and not to feel like something I'd already seen several times. That is a real accomplishment and one that is getting increasingly difficult to pull off.