Christian Complaint: Leave Britney Alone


Ajax Cochrane complains:
Just thought I'd point out an interesting fact, and I'm not going to debate this because debating with someone when they believe their own lies so fiercely that they would rather burn in Hell than admit they're wrong is completely pointless. My proof that God exists, and that atheists know that He exists, is their dogged pursuit and harassment of believers. If you really believe that God doesn't exist, why do you so violently oppose any proof to the contrary? If I believe something doesn't exist, and someone else does, I'm like "Oh, cool" and go about my business, and just write them off as another misguided person. So you'd think that atheists would just see believers as religious nut cases and leave us and our posts alone and go in search of higher karma or whatever it is you people do to soothe your troubled minds. 
But no. Every time a post comes up regarding the existence of God, it is immediately swamped by atheists loudly proclaiming that He doesn't exist. And the attitude is just down right humourous- they will stalk even young girls' posts, using every dirty word in the dictionary to try to prove their point. If God does not exist, if you believe with all your heart and soul that He is a myth invented by superstitious yokels in need of a crutch, why do you become so violent in your attacks? If God is about as real to you as Santa Claus, why do you take Him so seriously? It's really just too intriguing, y'all.
(I separated things into paragraphs, but did no other editing) 
 I suppose a thought experiment might be a the best response here. Suppose that it was thousands of years ago and you realised through careful observation that your tribe's annual virgin sacrifice didn't bring the rain. Instead you came to the conclusion that the rains always came because you may have known that one of the virgins was not really a virgin. Would you simply write them off as misguided? What if everyone believed that the moon made its own light, or that the earth orbited the sun?

Whether we like it or not, we all form part of the same society and the same species. If there was another earth-like planet out there, maybe most atheists would feel okay just moving there, but we can't do that. We all need to get along and move society in a forward direction together. There is no them, just us. If we screw up there is no rescue party, no plan B. Well not for atheists anyway. We think we got it right, and we want to help other people to see why, or maybe be convinced that we are wrong if that is the case.

Humanity progresses on the back of fierce disagreement. Despite the confidence of the original post, many people are being convinced by atheist arguments and changing their minds. The person posting the original post displays a strange behaviour. They claim that they don't want to debate in a debating community. In other words they want to have a back patting party with their friends and not have their beliefs challenged or disturbed. That is exactly what we want to do. We want to make people uncomfortable so they can start thinking about the subject of religion. Most of us were born into a religion and accepted it as unthinking toddlers. It's time for humanity to grow up and for adults to answer these questions.

If there is an answer let's talk about it, instead of accusing the other side of lying and preferring to go to hell to admitting the truth. Maybe instead of going the "you people" route, a more careful approach is warranted. 
If God is about as real to you as Santa Claus, why do you take Him so seriously?
We don't. We take you seriously, because you believe in it, and because most people do believe it. I don't think you could ever understand unless you get to hold a belief that is in a small minority.

Seperating People From Ideas


When it is pointed out to Christian apologists that priests molest children or that televangelist prosperity preachers milk viewers to build empires of wealth they are quick to cry foul and remind us that the behaviour of some people within a belief system or movement are not necessarily representative and that such criticisms are unfair. However when a prominent atheist, usually Richard Dawkins, makes some statement on some social issue on twitter apologists are quick to run to their little blogs and go "See! That's the problem with atheism right there kids!"

I don't involve myself in Dawkins controversies because personally his beliefs about gender equality and sexual abuse don't matter to me. I would hazard a guess that being an old Brit has more to do with Dawkins' opinions on social matters than his atheism does. He is only a spokesperson insofar as he speaks about atheism, and even then, he has become one voice among many, not the pope of atheism as apologists make him out to be. 

Of course the previous pope of atheism was Stalin, apologists' goto example of the result of atheism. It hardly matters that pious crusaders pillaged, raped and killed in the name of Yahweh. What matters even less is the question of whether Stalin's atheism was the actual cause of his actions, or just an irrelevant datum among many. People often misunderstand the relationship between powerful religious institutions and the proles in history. The lower classes always looked at the clergy with a mixture of awe and suspicion. It's true that religious organisations abused their power and overstepped their mandate often, using divine authority as an excuse to use and abuse commoners. The clergy was a social class that threatened the sovereignty of the people due to its power and influence, and far from atheism being the driving force to the destruction of the church, their power and wealth were what drew the ire of the common people. By arbitrarily choosing a quality or opinion of someone or some movement you don't like and dismissing the rest you run the risk of missing the really important part: the real cause.

So if Dawkins was found with a knife in his hand after killing twenty babies the truth is that it doesn't matter for atheism. Dawkins' ideas on atheism and biology too still have to stand on their own merit, because "would you really defend an argument made by a baby killer?" is an obvious ad hominem, as is "Would you defend a belief held by a mass murderer?". Christianity similarly is not false because of the crusades or because countless priests have molested children. There is no need for atheists to defend Dawkins if he is wrong about something, just like there is no reason to blame atheism for any shortcomings he may have as a human being. 

If we can successfully see ideas isolated from those who put them forward, we would have a lot less trouble absorbing knowledge around us, because occasionally someone who is wrong about everything is very right about something and we can't afford to ever miss out on the truth.

5 Reasons Why List Articles Will Go Out Of Fashion

1. The numerical order is usually arbitrary, so they might as well have been bullets.
2. They often leave out important points in order to reach a particular number like 5
3. There is no 3
4. They pander to a lazy reader who can't absorb prose, but as people become more accustomed to reading they will become more comfortable with reading longer pieces of text.
5. They add useless items just to pad up the list to the number they wish to reflect.

Discourse: What’s in a Word?


This instalment of the series on discourse was written by +Blair Mullins , and reposted from his blog at http://www.bubblews.com/news/6923187-whats-in-a-word

As a university graduate and an avid reader of everything from poetry to scientific dissertations, I just can’t seem to get enough of words, and I really don’t know why. It doesn't seem to fit with the rest of my athletic, adrenaline-driven personality, yet there it is. I get as lost in words as I do in sport; they both catapult me into the same sort of intoxicating trance. I soak up words and I can never seem to temper my insatiable quest for more. It’s as if they’re some sort of life sustaining rays for my mind and I guess in some ways, that’s exactly what they are.

I must admit, I do love the creative use of language. I love reading everything, whether it’s a haiku, a straightforward mathematical proof, a news article, a wordy philosophical argument or Uncle Willy’s anecdote about the weekend excursion to the cabin. I must make the disclaimer that with my last formal English class nearly 20 years behind me, my editing skills have denigrated to whatever it takes to get the red underline in Microsoft Word to disappear. But that doesn't stop me from being able to enjoy the great works of others, just as I don’t need to be able to paint well to enjoy looking at a Picasso.

I pay attention to language and I readily admit that my tastes are more acclimated to the poetic side of the spectrum, which means there is a part of me that loves having to read between the lines. There is a part of me that enjoys the ambiguity and the use of metaphors. There is a thrill of the chase dynamic at play where the author’s meaning isn't directly delivered on a silver platter. Great writing truly is an art form and despite the great many that have attempted it, very few have it mastered.

The reality though is that if you want to be clearly understood by most people in most situations, and if you want to avoid misinterpretation and confusion then speaking clearly and plainly is set at a premium. This is especially so in conversations where claims are being made and discussed. When the goal is to understand and to be understood; the simpler the better.

It’s difficult for many highly educated people to avoid the linguistic masturbation that pleasures them so completely as they read and re-read their own commentary, digesting it as a delicacy. It’s a skill to speak plainly using ordinary language and to resist the temptation to show off impressive linguistic maneuvers every time the opportunity presents itself. Some people like to measure their linguistic acumen by the number of syllables they use, while others delight in having to constantly add new words to their spell check.

It’s extremely easy to slip into a smorgasbord of metaphor exalting from a Sassicaia seeped tongue expelling the emblem that rides along the full bodied permeating wave of a Cohiba Esplendido exhalation. Along the fringes of the verses resides the embodiment of the meaning that we so trepidatiously extract with surgical precision and scour precisely with a fine toothed comb to subtly caress the obscene.

The words blunted from full effect are dressed in subtleties and accessible only to the astute, who are well equipped to scrape the rising crème de la crème from the top. In the slow progression of the thesis that is expressed in a thousand words (when ten will do), it becomes exceedingly difficult to refrain and to hold to plain and ordinary language that leaves the point bare and accessible to the greatest number of people possible.

After all, the primary purpose of language is to transport information from one person to another. While there will always be a demand for creative language, it’s always important to consider the audience at any given venue and proceed accordingly. There are indeed people who are threatened by plain language and usually these are the ones who like to obfuscate language in an effort to bury arguments so deep that they cannot be readily identified, let alone dismantled. In the conversation with religion we are far better served setting the example with plain and simple language, thereby giving us the license to demand the same in return. If you cannot state your case clearly and precisely, then you cannot state your case. Let’s leave the creative language to the wordsmiths and the poets.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Albert Einstein