Archive for Christian

My letter to a (former) #Christian friend

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on February 3, 2016 by Anton A. Hill

As I detailed in my article “Keeping Religious Friends,” I lost my friend JT over my alleged “snide” comments about Christianity. As I admitted in the article, it’s entirely possible I made such comments, I just don’t know what they were.

Shortly after JT sent me her Facebook message in which she said that, “for our friendship,” she was un-friending me, I wrote the following letter.

I never sent it.

I didn’t see the point. I knew what I needed to know. That I saw no incentive to speak to her nor her husband again. Our 15+ year friendship be damned.

But the stupid letter has sat in my drafts folder ever since. To clear that out, and to clear my mental air, here it is.

Hey JT,
Removing me is certainly your choice and I absolutely respect your right to do that.
I believe, based on evidence, that Christianity does demonstrable harm to the world. If you determine that my claims are baseless on the facts, you’re welcome to challenge me on them. If you can’t make that determination, then I assert you’ve got no reason to direct your irritation at me. If you simply have no tolerance for being challenged on your beliefs, then you should probably go ahead and de-friend me or block my comments from your headlines.
I understand that you and Mark, my mom, and many others really believe, but belief alone is neither valid nor commendable. There are plenty of claims out there (religious and otherwise) which are popular, but have no evidence to support them.
It matters to me that some of my friends are theists inasmuch as they have the right to their beliefs, but just as they do, so do I. And just as they constantly post theistic things, so, too, do I have the right to post non-theistic things. I don’t want to read about theistic things on a regular basis, and yet I put up with it because I understand that such claims are popular and so will often be made.
I’ve not once written to you directly asking for evidence of your faith. If you choose to read something I’ve posted on a public forum, that’s your choice.
It troubles me that you’d say “for our friendship.” If you feel it would truly be worth ending our decade+ relationship over a difference of opinion, then that saddens me greatly, but life’s too short to be wasted on petty trifles.
Best,
Anton.

 

Random shit for Friday

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

Okay, so I’m never getting around to writing anything. Maybe that’s okay. I’ve found a lot of satisfaction in the vlog entries and now the conversations via Google Hangout. And if this site becomes a front for that stuff, well, I guess that’s what happens.

I was thinking last night as I accidentally stayed up all night catching up on a horrendously long list of tweets from Robin Lever, that I’ve definitely noticed a couple of trends in our correspondence. This is news to no one, but I’ve found it useful reminding. One is the reminder of something I learned a long, long time ago: people will believe whatever they want. This isn’t just religious folk, oh, no. This is anybody. I suppose it’s natural; we seek patterns, seek to confirm our belief. It’d be pretty difficult to exist were we to question literally everything all the time. I suspect we’d become quivering globs of solipsists. And nobody wants that! Anyway, the thread I’m kind of getting to is Lever’s, and most religious’, ability to justify and rationalize absolutely everything. One tweet that stuck out in my head was how I and others quoted the KJV with verse where Moses/God commanded people to kill other people and take some as slaves. Lever had previously asserted that God never commands people to kill (the tweet which I of course can’t find).  Faced with this, she didn’t say, “Oh, I guess God did command people to kill people.” She justified it as being okay because God ordered it. But see, that was never the issue, though it’s an important one. The issue was simply whether God had, in fact, given the order. Which he had.

So that was one kind of thread. Another is the loosely defined Christian-Nation notion. I won’t deny that Christians are the overwhelming majority in this country, and if that makes the country “Christian,” then it must also be a woman nation. Point is, I agree with the sentiment per that definition. But when people go off saying dumb shit like “All the founders were Christian and wanted this to be a Christian nation,” that’s when I sigh. To be fair, Lever didn’t specifically say this, but she said a lot of similar things. Granted, many founding fathers at least self-identified as Christians, but I was shocked when I learned years ago that Jefferson had edited the Bible to cut out all the supernatural stuff. Yep, all of it. Jesus’ divinity, resurrection, miracles, etc. All of it. I pointed this out to Lever. Boy did the excuses fly. One was about how Jefferson was under political pressure. Another was just because he didn’t believe in the divinity didn’t mean he wasn’t Christian. One of the more recent was how Jefferson was teaching on ethics, not religion, so my point was invalid. I still have no idea what she meant by that.

There were other threads I could discuss, but I’ll leave it at that. i think my point is that in this months-long discussion, I’ve learned that there is a pretty standard Christian narrative in this country, it’s largely based on complete dishonesty and Arguments from Ignorance, and I guess I’ma little shocked at that. See, I figure if you wanna believe bullshit, fine, go ahead, just don’t teach your children that science is bad, don’t legislate it, and we’re good. But if, in order to maintain your bullshit belief, you have to justify genocide and revise history beyond comprehension, what does that say about your belief?

So I’m behind on my vlog-entry editing and in the current one, I’ve mentioned Hemant Mehta, Rebecca Watson, and SkepChicks, made claims of them, and so have to fucking go and do some research. had I just not said anything, I could’ve had it done by now. But no, I had to go and assert things. I won’t get into those assertions or the results of my research, but I will say that my previous bias against Watson and Skepchicks remains fully intact and my previous slight bias against Mehta was not quite warranted. He’s annoyed me at times, namely when he said that Dawkins’ “I don’t know” about Dawkins’ knowledge of his pupils’ alleged sex abuse was “not okay,” and, upon asking him what would’ve been okay, he didn’t have much of an answer, but in my research, I’ve skimmed much of what he’s written about in the last month and some and I have to say I’m impressed. The content is varied and fair and that’s much, much more than I can say about other atheist bloggers out there. And while I don’t expect to always agree with Mehta, I look forward to future musings from him.

So this Duck Dynasty thing is such bullshit. For all kinds of reasons. I’m gonna talk about this in my next vlog entry so I won’t go into too much here, but I really wish people would read the fucking Constitution. It’s not that long and it’s really not that complicated. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand it.

I don’t honestly give a fuck that Mr. Dynasty is a homophobic jerk. There’s lots of homophobic jerks and I don’t get my undies in a twist every time one of them says soothing–gasp–homophobic. I do give a fuck that nobody, and I mean nobody, seems to fucking understand the First Amendment. I totally agree that Duckie has every right to publicly express his views. I also agree that the government has no right to stop him. A+E, however, is a private (I think) corporation and his employer. Until A+E runs for public office, the Right can shut the fuck up about Duckie’s free speech being violated.

Okay, enough on that as I’ll definitely cover it in the next entry. Thanks for reading.

#hyperskepticism = a big, fat pile of bullshit!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

A few months ago, I encountered this ridiculous term. I don’t remember where or how. I think I was reading someone’s Twitter feed. I saw it pop up and thought, “Gee, what’s that?” I was unfortunately not soon to be satisfied with a straight-forward definition. It seemed, though, to mean the doubting of something beyond a reasonable amount.

Huh?

That sounds like bullshit! Why? Because that establishes an arbitrary, artificial threshold on what is “reasonable.” As has been pointed out in many of my discussions with the religious, something like miracle claims, to them, seems perfectly reasonable given a world created and controlled by an omnipotent god. Yes, I know, this then begs the questions on how we know about this god, etc., but the question alone of miracles does fit into this model as being perfectly reasonable.

I decided to google “hyperskepticism” just to see what came up. You know, shits and giggles. My hypothesis was that it’d been coined by any of the not-so scrupulous at Freethought Blogs or Skepchick or the like. Yes, yes, I even thought it might’ve been coined by PZ Myers. Not for any ad hominem reason, just I swore I saw some mention of him having said it.

I was wrong.

About Myers. Not about FtB and S’chick. In fact, I was the opposite of wrong regarding one of those two. What’s the opposite of wrong?

It’s right.

Yep. The first three results on google as of this writing were 1. Lousy Canuck of FtB (seems he coined it), 2. someone else of Atheism+, and 3. Justicar.

Huh?

To be fair, Justicar’s vid is entitled “skepticism vs. hyperskepticism” and I haven’t watched it so I don’t know what it says.

The usual suspects. (With S’chick not too far below the others.) Why is it whenever I hear something within the freethought community that sounds like absolute horseshit, the pantheon of (some) bullshitters inevitably comes up? I feel like I never see people like Secular Students or Black Non-Believers. It’s always fucking FtB, A+, and S’chick!

Anyway, A+ gives us a definition.

Hyperskepticism is a tactic of intellectually dishonest argument where unreasonably high standards of evidence are required for a claim to be accepted.”

–Atheism Plus Forums

Intellectually dishonest. How so? This supposes that it’s ever dishonest to question or doubt. But how could that be true? Isn’t it more dishonest to proclaim a priori that there is such a thing as too much doubt?

Unreasonably high standards. What, pray, then, is unreasonable? And who decides this? The moderators of A+? I fucking hope not because they haven’t had a great track record with being reasonable.

Scientists, then? I doubt it, they tend to tell us to doubt everything. Yes, everything.

Let’s end on my perfect example of this bullshit in action. A few days ago, I was having a conversation on Twitter with someone whose name I’ve since forgotten and screen caps of which I neglected to take. So yeah, you’ll have to take my word for it (or simply skim my timeline).

The subject of harassment came up. I suggested that such a thing, and the label of “victim,” should be qualified with “alleged” until the victim, crime, and perpetrator were all proved through due process of law. I was accused of being hyperskeptical.

What??

It’s hyperskeptical to expect presumed innocent until proven guilty to be applied in all cases? Isn’t that just how the American justice system works and should work to both protect the innocent and punish the guilty? You know, as in we don’t punish the innocent until we’re sure they’re guilty?

It got better.

I asked this Tweeter how he’d go about assessing the fact of a harassment situation. He said, basically, that he’d first believe the victim (alleged victim!), trust the more trustworthy of witnesses for either side (we’re measuring trustworthiness now??), and if the perpetrator were proven innocent… What?? If they’re •proven• innocent?? No, no, no. It’s presumed innocent until proven guilty! Did no one attend grade school but me??

I went on to point out that this was an identical argument Christians make of the Gospels. That they should be assumed to be eyewitness accounts until proven otherwise. He said they were unreliable. I pointed out that this was his opinion. And I wished him the best should he ever be accused of harassment and deemed less trustworthy than his alleged victim.

I support @SecularStudents’ #SSAWeek because I was once a lost, collegiate heathen

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

When I was in college, the Secular Student Alliance didn’t exist. If it did, I sure as hell didn’t know about it. I’d recently graduated from the Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, a private, non-sectarian K-12 school whose demographics were predominantly Jewish, then Christian, then Other. Because I was a deist in high school, I never felt left out, at least not in any religious/irreligious way. No one proselytized. No one made his religion an issue. In fact, religion barely, if ever, came up.

Things changed when I went to the politically liberal, liberal-arts Pitzer College in Claremont, California. I was losing my faith from the beginning of my time there, realizing I was an atheist the summer of my freshman year. Unfortunately, beyond the initial relief that such an experience brings, I found neither comfort nor solidarity on campus.

The fact is probably most people I knew at that time were also atheists, or in the very least didn’t care. But you wouldn’t have known it from the presence of groups like the Campus Crusade for Christ. I still clearly remember trotting off to the Gold Student Center for a veggie burger and hearing the circle-snging from upstairs. Sure, they had the right to gather and make merry, but I was irritated anyway. Why should the Crusaders have a place to go and not I?

I also clearly remember a less fortunate occasion in the dining hall. I was obnoxiously dressed in a sarape because I was still amid my Mexican-culture-co-opting phase. This girl dropped by my table, set a table tent in the middle, and went on her way. I’d been having a very bad day for reasons I don’t remember. With this bad day, I took a quick look at the table tent. It said some shit about Jesus and saving and who knows what else. In a burst of righteous indignation, I seized the table tent and tore it to pieces. I sighed with relief.

Then the girl returned.

Weeping, she quietly apologized, gathered the destroyed table-tent pieces, and ran away. Good one, Anton. Way to be a total fucking asshole.

But here’s the thing. Had there been a SSA on campus, an active SSA, I most likely would’ve let bygones be bygones, at least as far as table tent placement goes. Sure, I would’ve felt annoyed by the girl and her table tent, but I would’ve had a place to have taken my gripes. Or I would’ve had my own table tents to place!

I know. I could’ve found a secular group on-line. I could’ve formed my own. It never crossed my mind to do either. And for that, some poor table tent had to die.

Don’t let future Campus Crusade for Christ table tents suffer the same fate! Support the Secular Student Alliance!

Happy post-facto co-opted #Pagan fertility/spring festival day!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2013 by Anton A. Hill

I had a tradition here at Atheist Asshole of writing some kind of snarky, mocking post on Easter Sunday about Easter Sunday. Sometimes it was about the history of beloved Easter traditions and how they’re all Pagan-based. Sometimes it was just a log (blog?) of what I’d done to celebrate. But at least it was something.

As is evident from the date of this post, I completely fucked it up this year. And I don’t even remember what I did on Easter, let alone whether it was specifically Easter-related. I do remember that I started Chuck Heston’s The Ten Commandments, but only got about a half hour in before the rest of the audience had already given up. Sorry, Chuck.

Yes, I know, watching even part of The Ten Commandments is Easter-related, but remember that in previous years, I’d usually gone out and done something. One year, it was a butt-load of mini-golf. Another year it was an actual Easter brunch.

The thing is, and this was brought up by A-News co-founder Lee Moore on his Facebook page, that even though we atheists lack a belief in gods, that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good time, even one that was at one time based partially or entirely on made-up religious bullshit.

Here’s the thing about holidays. As you may well know, yes, the origin of the word is much more literally religious-based. Holy day. But as any speaker of modern English will tell you, the “holi-” of “holiday” doesn’t in any casual, vernacular reality have anything to do with “holy” as in “god.” It’s basically just a “let’s have a good time” thing.

I don’t know about other atheists, but for myself, any excuse to have a good time is generally all one needs to justify doing so. Thus, even though the holiday in question is both Christian- and Pagan-based, in most ways inextricably tied (in some people’s minds) with Christ, just as it was co-opted by the Christians to suit their needs, so, too, it can be co-opted to suit mine.

With that, happy post-Easter no matter how you celebrated or what significance it holds for you. And if you don’t like that people like me stole your holiday for rounds of mini-gold thereby completely ignoring and trivializing what you consider to be the “true” meaning of it, well, tough shit.

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