Archive for Hindu

My conversation with Jen P. on 3/9/12

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2012 by Anton A. Hill

This one was fun. And I’m finally getting around to it. After my first conversation involving Jen P., I wrote to her directly. I wanted to take her up on specific claims, facts, suggestions, etc. she was making. My text is in italics. Hers is in bold. Comments are [in brackets].

Hi Jen,

I promise I won’t pester. I just wanted to let you know that I was absolutely serious when I said I’d be happy to speak with your pastor. Please feel free to pass my info along to him. I understand he may not have the desire or the time to speak with me, but if he does, I welcome it.

Also, I encourage you to watch the following video. It’s all about “open-mindedness.” Feel free to hate it, but, per you, I encourage you to “keep and open mind.” That, and it’s only a couple of minutes long. In exchange, I’ll happily check out whatever you’d like to pass along.

Best,

Anton.

Open-mindedness
http://www.youtube.com
A look at some of the flawed thinking that prompts people who believe in certain non-scientific concepts to advise others who don’t to be more open-minded. m… Continue reading

Fuck you, Lady GaGa, for excluding us!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by Anton A. Hill

4mojo9

I don’t hate Lady Gaga. In fact, I have no real opinion on her one way or the other. I find her frankly showy and weird for the sake of it. No big deal. Half the songs I’ve heard I found catchy. The other half didn’t do anything for me. This isn’t unique to her. I’m a music snob. But when I heard “Born This Way,” I first thought it was catchy, if reminiscent of Madonna. Then I heard a bit about the lyrics.

NO MATTER GAY, STRAIGHT, OR BI,
LESBIAN, TRANSGENDERED LIFE

Like everyone else, I thought it was pretty cool that Gaga was not only acknowledging the gay community, but specifically encouraging its acceptance.

Then I read the lyrics. Continue reading

Price of Atheism — 20/20 piece

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2010 by Anton A. Hill

This is a couple of years old now, but I think still quite relevant.

In general I think it’s a solid piece, though it gets a little histrionic, which, while good television, sort of deflates its impact.

“When it came to basketball, they would pray before and after practices.”

This is a perfect example of what the religious have often asked me. “What’s the problem?” Practically speaking, it isn’t much of one. Obviously from the footage, no one’s being hurt. Not physically anyway. But this is usually where I retort something like, “How would you feel if the students recited some sort of Satanic prayer?” But even that isn’t the point. The point is that it’s a public school and so having any kind of prayer or other religious ritual on school property during a school activity, which the coach either leads or is complacent to, is clearly a civil rights violation, an ethics violation, and unconstitutional.

“If I was a Jew, a Muslim, or a Hindu, I would have a problem saying that prayer.”

Exactly. No one would dare ask a Jew to recite a Christian prayer or criticize said Jew for not joining in a Christian prayer. So, then, what makes criticism of Nicole okay? That’s right. Nothing.

Next, Nicole says she’s an atheist and doesn’t want to say the prayer:

“The coach says, ‘Go to the locker room then.'”

And there we are. Fuck off. Go away. Imagine the shitstorm of publicity if the coach had said the same thing to a Jewish girl. Apologies galore if not losing his job. Anti-Defamation League would’ve had his nuts for fucking breakfast.

“[The students] would call me ‘devil-worshiper.'”

This has always amused me. The assumption of the religious is almost always that if one doesn’t worship God, one must worship the Devil. It never crosses anyone’s mind that we don’t worship anything.

But anyway, the thing that most bothers me about the devil worship comment is that the religious, and Christians in particular, often claim to cherish things like acceptance and love and forgiveness and all that, and in many cases, they’re the first to villify someone for a difference in belief or lack thereof. More to the point, children and teenagers (and I include my teenage self in this), parrot what their parents tell them. It’s one of the ways we learn. So if a kid’s calling someone a devil-worshiper, your assumption of what their parents are telling them is probably correct.

“What were [the teachers] saying?”

“This is a Christian country and if you don’t like it, get out.”

Reprehensible. I can almost understand teenagers dumping the bullshit their parents have indoctrinated, but teachers are supposed to be responsible adults. Not only is such a statement factually incorrect, but even if it were true, that doesn’t matter. Any teacher worth his weight in shit also knows the First Amendment and that just because something’s popular or even the overwhelming majority, doesn’t make it true. And beyond that, no teacher has any right to tell a student that he or she should get out of the country just because he or she believes something different from the majority. And again, I maintain that had Nicole been Jewish, no one would have dared say anything even close to “get out.”

“School officials who were involved turned down our request for an interview.”

Cowards. Then again, there is such a thing as covering one’s legal ass. But cowards nonetheless.

“I’ve never seen anything at the school… that the kids have treated Nicole badly.”

That may well be true. It could be that Nicole is exaggerating/lying and it could be that Diane simply never witnessed it. I think the possible problem, though, is that Diane doesn’t seem at all concerned about Nicole’s claims. If it turns out that Nicole is exaggerating or lying, then ultimately such concern is unnecessary, but it seems the best thing to do is to be cautious.

“They’re good, Christian kids.”

The assumption that Christian equals good has always bothered me as it’s demonstrably not a given. But the other thing that bothers me about Diane’s statement is that it’s a generalization. Does she know that all the students in the school are Christians? If so, fair enough, but then Nicole’s presence there would seem to counter that. And I find it hard to believe that Nicole is the sole non-Christian student.

“It’s still a free country… and our young people are standing up for their faith.”

I actually have no problem with this at all. I support the right to free speech and expression, even if that expression is bullshit or hateful. The problem I have with the pastor’s statement is that he’s ignoring the practical and ethical sides of the issue. Yes, students have the right to pray, even on school grounds, even during school events. But if there’s any inkling of the school’s endorsement of such activity, that’s a problem. Now if the students themselves organize and participate in the prayer before and after the basketball game, then I honestly have no ethical issue with that. But that’s not the case and, even if it were, it’s still exclusive to people like Nicole. I personally think the best policy would be to not have any kind of religious ritual at all so as not to murk the ethical waters. And, as with above, I wonder if the pastor would feel so kindly toward the prayer circle if it were Muslims or Satanists praying. (I would support either on the same free-speech grounds.) The fact is that the pastor is only supportive of the prayer circle because he likes it. He’s not supporting it on ethical grounds.

“The school was conspiring…”

This is where they lose me. I find it highly unlikely that, even if all the school officials and teachers had a problem with Nicole, her family, and its atheism, would bother to take the time to run them out of town or her out of the school. I’m sure they were all annoyed. I’m sure they might have even expressed that annoyance to each other in private and in public, but to accuse them of conspiracy seems paranoid to me.

“School administrators kicked Nicole off the basketball time. They said she was ‘bad for team morale.'”

Now THAT’S awful. Even if they truly believed the claim to be true, they clearly had no right to do so.

“You stole another girl’s shoes… You were late to practice…”

Nicole denies these charges and explains them. If this shit is true, which it sounds like it is, then maybe dad’s not quite as paranoid as he seems, but the amount of grey area here still makes me not want to side completely against the school.

“…Nicole stayed outside the circle.”

This is what we mean by the price of atheism. This is the effect. Right there in plain video footage. The team is telling Nicole to fuck off. The coach is okay with it, the school is okay with it, and anyone in the community who’s there and says nothing is also okay with it. Why anyone would want to actively exclude someone is beyond me. And this is why I say let’s just not have a prayer circle. Forget the questions of legality, ethics, and constitutionality. Don’t do it because it’s not fucking nice!

“…She was suspended… She’d threatened to kill a team member.”

Nicole obviously denies this as well. I dunno. I really don’t think the school had it in for her, but it is hard to argue against such trumped-up allegations.

The parents taking their kids out of school… Again, I dunno. It seems kinda silly to me. Were their kids really in danger? I doubt it. Was it uncomfortable? Sure. One the one hand, I feel like Nicole should’ve faced the adversity head-on. The fact is, similar situations are going to continue to arise. At the same time, why would anyone want to invite non-stop harassment into his or her life if said harassment were unnecessary? (I can’t think of a “necessary” kind of harassment.)

“Oh, I heard about you. You’re that dirty, little, trouble-making atheist.”

Yeah, I wouldn’t want to do a single day of that shit either. Fucking assholes.

I just found the following on the American Atheists site.

“When Smalkowski rejected an offer to have the charges dropped if he and his Atheist family left the state, the charges were upgraded to a felony.”

Click here for the full story. Maybe I was wrong about that whole conspiracy thing.

I’ve been looking for some kind of update on how Nicole is doing, but in my lazy few minutes of looking, nothing obvious has reared its head. I hope she’s happy and pursuing her dreams.

After another hiatus

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 22, 2010 by Anton A. Hill

“Hey,

“>You can always find an arguement for every case.

“Not cases with verifiable evidence. And if what you say is true, then no case is valid. And if that’s true, why not believe anything about anything?

“>It is just always gonna go back and forth.

“Not if one side has evidence.

“>I already know that God exists, this is why all the sins we do are wrong.

“How do you know God exists? What is sin and how do you know it’s wrong? See, everything you’re saying is nothing more than assumption.

“I know Zeus exists. I just got home out of the rain. Zeus is the god of thunder. There are thunder and rain, therefore Zeus must exist. Prove that he doesn’t.

“> Whatever is God’s rule, we should follow it.

“How do you know what His rules are?

“>It is whatever he wants.

“What does he want and how do you know?

“>We serve it to him.

“How do you know?

“>Read your bible and let the words float in your head.

“I have. The bible is not evidence. It’s something written. Here:

‘”I know everything.”‘

“See? It’s written, therefore it must be true.

“>Let God retrain every portion of you that you don’t want to conform to.

“Let him? How can I stop an omnipotent being from doing anything? Is God omnipotent or not?

“> Actually believe every word and even if you feel like it’s you fighting it, it’s not you, the devil is mainipulating your mind.

“How do you know? And how do you know that this devil exists? I know for a fact that the Jews don’t believe in a devil. Why are you right and they’re wrong? The Hindus believe in multiple gods. How are you right and they’re wrong?

“>Don’t fight my words.

“I’m not. I simply see no reason to believe them.

“>It’s only for your own benefit.

“I have no reason to believe that.

“>Life becomes more important when you have God.

“How so and how do you know?

“>Just always believe it for now and the truth will come to you later.

“Wait, I’m supposed to believe for no reason and later it’ll be proved? That makes no sense. Why don’t you do that with the Egyptian sun god, Amen-Ra? Believe that Amen-Ra is real and he will reveal himself to you.

“>Don’t quit.

“I never started, so can’t quit.”

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