Tag Archives: faith

Prometheus sucked

12 Jul

*Spoilers*

I know I’m a bit late on posting this review, but I need to get this off my chest. Prometheus made no sense. The more I think about the movie, the more things I realize made no sense.

I went into it thinking it would be a prequel to the iconic feminist film of the 80’s. Instead I got a disjointed, poorly thought-out anti-science movie.

Throughout the film there is this strong faith vs science undercurrent, with the filmmakers falling firmly on the side of faith.

So a group of archaeologists find a similar painting that has been found on several locations all over the planet depicting a constellation. Somehow, from this, they come to the conclusion that this points the way to a planet where aliens exist, and that these aliens created us. Quite a jump from a couple of stick figures in a cave. Not to mention the fact that we already have an explanation for how life developed on the planet. Furthermore, it takes more than one star to be in a constellation. Stars can be in a constellation together, but in reality exist millions of light years apart. How did they know which star? How did they know which planet around that star? But whatever, moving on.

A dying multi-trillionare builds a spaceship solely for the purpose of going to this planet. He then staffs the spaceship with various costume scientists. I say costume scientists because none of them actually do any science, nor know any science as made evidenced by the token “biologist.”

Before they land on the planet there is an exchange between the “biologist” and Elizabeth Shaw, the archaeologist. Elizabeth Shaw explains her stick figure idea and the “biologist” laughs and asks her why she thinks that. “It is what I choose to believe.” is her reply. This line comes up more than once. The way it is used, and the way so much else in the film rests upon the concept it conveys, it’s as if the screenwriters thought this was some brilliant rebuttle to skeptics.

News flash: Choosing to believe something has no impact on whether or not it is true. None what so ever. It does not strengthen your claim. It only shows that you have nothing other than your own delusion with which to support your views. I can stand in front of a train and “choose to believe” that it won’t hit me. I could believe as hard as I possibly could, but it would be nowhere near as hard as when the train does actually hit me. Reality doesn’t give a shit what you “choose to believe.” Here in the real world, facts matter.

But back to Never-never land. After Elizabeth gives her lack luster response the “biologist” responds with “Yeah, like you’re going to disprove 300 years of Darwinism…”

This one line shows just how little of an actual biologist this “biologist” is. Darwinism? Who the hell calls evolution “Darwinism?” You know who? People who don’t understand evolution and attack it. Creationists in the US use the term “Darwinism.” The fact that this character used that term instead of evolution instantly showed the screenwriter’s hand. Secondly, the ignorance of the screenwriter is further revealed by having the character rhetorically ask if she was going to disprove “Darwinism” by showing that life was created by aliens.

Newsflash #2: Evolution has nothing to do with how life began. That’s the field of abiogenesis. Evolution deals with how life (surprise!) evolved. The fact that “biologist” doesn’t understand this shows that he really isn’t actually a biologist. Lastly, even if somehow you could prove that life was started on the planet by aliens, that wouldn’t disprove evolution. See Newsflash #2.

If I remember correctly, someone asks Elizabeth something to the effect of “Well if the aliens made us, then what does that do to god?” To which she replied “Well who made them [the aliens]?” Again the screenwriter shows that he’s an idiot. This is just an infinite regress. I could just as validly say “well who made god?” To which most theists just arbitrarily decide to break the cycle by choosing to suspend the rules of “everything must have a cause” and declaring their god above the rules that govern everyone else.

Throughout the film people keep trying to take Elizabeth’s cross necklace of her neck, but she keeps putting it back. One character even says to her “Even after all this, you still believe?” Elizabeth just brushes off their criticism and continues to believe in the iron age god of the desert. I say that for a reason.

The symbol of the cross is not just  some amorphous symbol for a higher power. It is the symbol for a very specific deity with specific attributes. It is the symbol for the Christian god. Here is Elizabeth: on a planet in another solar system, after having discovered that aliens created life on earth, that those aliens then were going to destroy that life, and was recently attacked by said aliens. Despite all this she still feels that the story of a deity impregnating a virgin girl 2000+ years ago in the desert and then sacrificing himself to himself in order to forgive mankind for being the way he created them, she feels that all this is still reasonable and valid.

Sorry, forgot. Movie on, brain off.

A subplot of the story revolves around a robot man. This robot is having problems with the question “Do I have a soul?” For some unknown reason he decides that he wants to kill all humans and proceeds to subtly fuck everything up once they’ve landed on the planet. This is ridiculous because for the entire two years that everyone else was helpless in stasis, he was alone on the ship. He could have killed them at any moment, but instead waits till they land.

Furthermore, it’s hilarious that the multi-trillionare man doesn’t realize the robot is asking the same questions he is. It is clear to everyone in the audience that the robot is self aware and capable of feelings. He displaces amusement, concern, curiosity, and malicious intent. Yet at the end of the movie Elizabeth’s character reminds him that it is impossible for him to understand some things or have a soul because he did not come out of a vagina.

Speaking of vaginas, this movie has a very strange relationship with gender. I’m not sure if it’s an anti-feminist movie as well as being anti-science, but at the very least it’s just weird when it comes to gender issues.

The multi-trillionare guy gives a speech about how the killer robot is the closest thing he’ll ever have to a son.  Yet later we find out that the person in charge of the expedition, Meredith, is his daughter. Why snub your daughter like that? Some people believe she is a robot too, but this is not the case. She had to be woken up from stasis. If she was a robot, there would have been no need. She could have stayed up for 2 years with David watching Lawrence of Arabia.

Furthermore, she goes off and has sex with the captain of the ship. Why would her father’s company make a daughter robot with functioning sexual organs? Also, nobody questions her emotions when she shows them yet they all doubt David can feel anything.

So we’ve established that there are at least two human females on the ship. Oddly enough, the movie DOES pass the Bechdel test, but barely. These women speak to each other only for a brief moment. Either way, this brings us to one of the strangest parts of the film. Elizabeth gets impregnated with an alien baby via her infected lover. She runs to the super expensive auto-surgery machine on the ship to have it cut out of her. She tells the machine what proceedure she needs and it spits back the error:

“Sorry, this machine is calibrated for male patients only.”

What the hell? Why? Why even write that bit of dialogue into the film? She gets around it and the machine cuts the alien baby out, but still, wtf? We’ve already established that there are at least two women on board the ship. Why would a surgery machine in the future be biased against them? What if something happened, like it did in the case of the movie?

Throughout the movie nobody seems to be overly excited about making first contact with another life form, nor do they seem overly concerned when people start dying. There is one point where two crew members are trapped in the alien building and the captain sees that something is moving on the scanners. He doesn’t act the least bit concerned and instead just brushes it off. The two crew members die and nobody gives a shit.

Somehow the captain figures out that this planet is a weapons facility where the aliens that made us were creating the predator aliens for use to kill us all off. He must of had some of what the archaeologists had for breakfast because he figures this all out while sitting in his chair.

This fact is completely ignored at the end of the movie when Elizabeth wants to travel to the alien’s home planet. “I want to know why the decided not to kill us” she states to David the robot. Well clearly they didn’t decided not to kill you. What was the first thing the alien did when you woke him up? He tried to kill you then tried to fly his spaceship with the weapons towards earth to kill everyone else. That was the whole reason the Prometheus ship had to suicide ram the alien spaceship.

Yet the screenwriters ignore this and Elizabeth gets on another ship to sail off into the stars armed with nothing but a bag of cheetos she looted from the escape pod…

 

Trying to find a job while being an atheist

8 Jun

Looking for a job is always stressful. It is even more stressful when you’re the most maligned and mistrusted minority in the country, looking for work in the most hostile part of the country. Being an atheist and looking for work in the South can be a tricky predicament.

I found that out first hand over the past two days.

I’ve been looking for work since March when the company I worked for went under. I was really excited to get a call back from a company three days ago, asking if I would come in right that moment for an interview. I grabbed my stuff and drove 45 mins to the next town over. During the course of the interview the boss said I didn’t have all the experience he was looking for, but that he was in really bad need of somebody and wanted to see how fast I could pick things up. He mentioned a salary figure which I agreed to, then asked me to come in at 7am the next morning to shadow him. Throughout the interview he was giving me things to write down and to study.

I went home, extremely excited about the prospect of finally working again, and for somebody from whom I felt I could learn a lot. Then I started to explore the company’s website more in-depth as I had only a few moments quick glance before I was out the door rushing to the interview. He explicitly states on their website that it is a Christian company.

“Meh, whatever, I don’t care what they believe as long as I’m working and getting paid” I told myself. I got up at 5:30 the next morning and went to meetup with my prospective employer. We spent the morning going to a meeting and then it was off to make service calls.

The question came while we were in the car.

“This has no bearing on you getting hired, but what do you think about Obama?”

“Um…I don’t know…”

“Well do you like him or not like him?”

“Um…I’m not really a big fan?”

“For what reasons?” (I wanted to reply “Well, because he’s a center-right corporate whore parading as a progressive” But I didn’t for obvious reasons)

“For a variety of reasons, but I rather not say.”

“Ok, good, I don’t like him either. His taxes are going to crush my business.” (I wanted to point out that the president doesn’t control taxes, that congress does, and congress is republican controlled, but I doubt those facts would have either made me look good or mattered to him.)

“Can I ask you some questions about religion?” (The knot in my throat grows tighter)

“Only if you don’t mind if I don’t answer.” (“Damn I’m must sound like some secret-agent wannabe wacko” I thought.)

“Again, this is just out of personal curiosity, it doesn’t have any effect on you getting hired. What religion are you?”

“I rather not say.” *nervous laugh*

He then launches into a bit explaining how he and his wife are Christian, and that he came to realize God’s plan for his life when he almost died, was airlifted to the hospital and lived, how that got him to change his business around, etc etc…

We get to a service call and I get a reprieve. I’m extremely uncomfortable but I need this job. I need the experience and I need the skill set it will give me. So I bite my lip.

Two weeks ago my uncle almost died when he fell off a rough while working and was airlifted to a hospital. I was curious what happened to him, so I explained what happened to my uncle and asked him what happened to him. He explains how he had some rare condition and how the emergency crew in the helicopter didn’t think he was going to live, but he got to the hospital in time and Christ spared his life.

I didn’t say anything, but the whole time I was thinking: “Oh, Christ saved your life? Not the doctors with years of training? Not the paramedics and the helicopter, developed by science, that enabled you to be quickly rushed to a hospital, staffed with the fruits of scientific labor that kept you alive and saved your life. No, it was none of that, but the iron age God of the desert came down, skipping the 16,000 children that die of starvation everyday to save your butt and show you the way while you were conveniently in a first world country’s hospital attended by a swarm of doctors. Oh I see. Of course!”

But I obviously had to hold my peace.

Later I ended up driving him in the company car to a service call an hour away. He mentioned how he met his wife on eHarmony. I had tried eHarmony before in the past. I spent 45 minutes filling out their survey only to be rejected. eHarmony is a Christian oriented dating site. Atheists don’t do well on there.

Without thinking much, I mentioned how I tried eHarmony but that they rejected me.

“Why did they reject you?”

“Oh, erm…They reject you if you don’t match up with their ‘values’ system.”

“Why’s that?”

(In my head: “Shit shit shit….whatever. Fuck it. I don’t care.” Did I mention that sometimes I have a self destructive streak?)

And so I explained that I was, in fact, an atheist, that I do stuff with my local atheist community (even though I’ve been kinda off the radar for the past bit), that I used to be an evangelical as an early teenager, that religion is a interest of mine, that I’m pretty well read in it, and that I’ve been working on app development for atheist counter-apologetics apps.

The cat’s out of the bag now…

He was just kinda like “Oh…..ok…” Later he asked me “So what made you become an atheist?” I’m sure he was expecting that some disaster had befallen me and that I now hated God, or that I just wanted to lead a sinful lifestyle.

The problem with this question, besides all the problems with the situation, is that it is a trap. Most likely inadvertently, but a trap nonetheless. Let me rephrase the question and you’ll see exactly what I mean:

“So what made you abandon and discredit everything I hold dear, everything that is intimately intertwined with how I see myself and my world?”

There is absolutely no possible way I can answer that question without being offensive. There just isn’t. It’s a loaded question.

“Um…it was more of a journey for me over time.” (I wanted to say “Well, because I grew up, I read books, I experienced things outside of the narrow world view the church taught.”)

He mentioned how he never really knew any atheists, that he had come in contact with a few, and that they were all really big jerks. I mentioned that there are all types in every group, and that I’m very non-confrontational (in person) and live and let live. Oddly, he didn’t really understand what “live and let live” meant so I had to explain it to him. We really didn’t talk much the rest of the trip. He was busy working and making phone calls from the passenger seat. Throughout the day, before atheism came up, he was making me write down all the things he wanted me to study. “On Friday I’m going to have you do X, on Monday I’m going to have you do Y.” He didn’t really give me too much more to study after religion came up.

At 5pm I finally started the long drive home. I had been up for twelve hours and rushing around town with him for ten. I was exhausted. When I got home, I spent the rest of the night studying my ass off. He said I could take Thursday off to study, because it was more important that I pick up the concepts fast for when he tests me on Friday than for me to shadow him for another day.

I took a short break to get a few hours of sleep in the wee hours of Thursday morning, then was back up and studying some more. At the end of the day on Wednesday he said he might have me come in again later Thursday to do some stuff, but that he would call and let me know.

I sent him an e-mail around noon on Thursday telling him how far I’d gotten studying. (I really did learn a shit ton really fast). About an hour later I got a response:

“…My wife and I, as well as the other people in the office are discussing it, but we are thinking we need to find someone that already has extensive experience. You are doing a great job on all of this studying as far as I see it, but I am thinking a history of experience would serve us better at the moment. I am getting busier and busier by the second and I thinking it would be best for us to find someone who can hit the ground running, who would require no shadowing…

If you don’t mind, if there are any reminders on your note pad that I needed, I would really appreciate you sending them to me. I am in with a few other companies as far as passing along resumes, and I will certainly pass yours along. You have great potential!
Thank you in advance for understanding.”
Rejection.
I’m fucked. I didn’t get the job I desperately needed in order to give me the skill set, background, and money to accomplish my goals. I was, am, depressed. What about the ten hours I spent running around with him? I had other things I would have liked to do that day too. I probably won’t see a penny for my time.
I really do think he rejected me because I didn’t have the experience he was looking for, but part of me wonders. Even if he says that it has no effect on my getting the job, it does have an effect subconsciously in how he perceives me.
Before atheism came up, he did mention that his wife was coming on board with the company and that they would have to have dinner with me so she could meet me before they hired me. She apparently has a good sense about people, or so he told me. I wonder if his wife put her foot down at the idea of hiring an atheist. I can just imagine her asking how they’d be able to trust such a deviant, someone without morals. How could someone like that represent the family company?
Yet I have no proof of this, so it’s pure fantasy and speculation.
I would like to hope I was rejected just because of my skill set, and not that I was discriminated against based on my religious stance.
I’ll honestly never know for sure. Such are the perils of trying to find a job as an atheist in an often fundamentalist Christian south.

Merry Christmas or Happy holidays?

22 Dec

Merry Christmas or Happy holidays? This is debate that flairs up every November-December in America.

On the side of “Happy Holidays” you have people and businesses who are trying to appeal to the greatest number of customers. On the side of those who take offense to “Happy holidays” and prefer “Merry Christmas”, you have Christians who feel that “Happy Holidays” is an attack on their beliefs. Some on the “Merry Christmas” side have even gone so far as to call for a boycott of businesses that say “Happy Holidays” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” I’m not sure about your locale, but you can often find people driving around with the following “Keep Christ in Christmas” car magnets.

It should come as no surprise that I feel that the “Merry Christmas” crowd is acting like a bunch of angry children. Let’s examine the rationale behind why a person might say “Happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas” :

The idea behind “Happy holidays” is simple. There are several holidays celebrated  in the month of December. Since it is not easy to tell just by looking at someone what their religion is, it is a polite way of saying “I wish you well in whichever of the several holidays you will be observing.” It’s nice, it covers everybody, and doesn’t discriminate.

Now, for the “Merry Christmas” people who take offense to “Happy Holidays” their reasoning is some flavor of the following reasons:

I celebrate Christmas, therefore my holiday is the only holiday that really matters.

This is my country, founded on my religion, and everyone else should bow down to the superiority of MY holiday.

You can have your little Hanukkah, or Solstice, or whatever, but normal people like ME celebrate CHRISTmas!

To say “Happy Holidays” is to spit in the face of that majority’s cultural tradition! It’s an attack on my religious freedom [read as: freedom to oppress, marginalize, and belittle those of different faiths]!”

Now someone who takes offense to “Happy Holidays”  might not hold every aspect of the above self-righteous rage, but their reasoning ultimately stems from one of the above mentioned examples.

When someone takes offense to “Happy Holidays” or any other attempt to include others of differing viewpoints in the seasonal celebrations, they truly are acting like a spoiled child throwing a temper-tantrum. I’m sorry if you feel uncomfortable by the existence of people with differing views. I’m sorry if you can’t stand the thought that your holiday might not be superior to, and deserving deference from, all the other holidays going on during this season.

Grow up.

There is nothing Obama can do right…

5 May

In the eyes of republicans, there is NOTHING Obama can do right. They refuse to give him credit for anything, no matter how much they might like it. It’s like an abusive relationship and Obama’s a hurt dog that keeps coming back to its master, begging to please, only to get beaten senseless at every trick preformed perfectly for the master’s amusement. I’m starting to think the president is somehow is mentally unstable.

Osama bin Laden is dead. Hunting him was one of the primary reasons (at least, officially) for why we invaded Afghanistan a DECADE ago. We hunted him down and killed him under Obama’s administration. But instead of making this an American victory, some conservatives are hell bent on making this a republican victory. (After all republicans = America and thus anything not republican ≠ America)

Lately I’ve heard a lot of talk along the lines of “Well, Obama’s not really responsible for killing Osama bin Laden since he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger….”

You know what? If you follow that “logic” Osama bin Laden wasn’t really responsible for 9/11 because he didn’t fly the planes into the buildings… (But what am I say? Screw logic)

But now a lot of republicans are attacking Obama because apparently Osama was unarmed when we killed him. “How horrible was it that we killed an unarmed Osama bin Laden?!?!? The president is an evil evil man!”

I dare you, I fucking dare you to tell me republicans would be saying the same thing if Bush was the one who had an unarmed Osama bin Laden shot. There is no fucking way in hell republicans would be giving Bush shit for shooting Osama. They’d all be like “AMERICA!!!!! FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!111″

But no, the president is evil for killing the most evil man in the world simply because he puts a D by his name.

“You know, this really isn’t Obama’s victory because Bush was the one who started this whole thing. It’s really because of Bush’s policies that we’ve caught and killed Osama….”

I wish I was kidding, but that’s seriously what some of them are saying….

First off, Clinton (D) started the hunt for Obama before Bush ever took office, before 9/11. (But conviently ignore that unless you want to try and blame 9/11 on Clinton’s failed attempts to find Osama, at which point you’d also be ignoring the fact that the worst terrorist attack in US history happened on a republican’s watch)

Secondly, you’ll try to take credit for killing Osama because of policies enacted by Bush, but you won’t take credit for the economy crashing because of policies made by the exact same president?!?!?!

(Are you beginning to see how their minds work?)

Republicans do everything perfectly, democrats do everything horribly. Whenever something bad happens while a republican is in power, it’s the democrat’s fault. Whenever something good happens, it’s to the republican’s credit.

It’s the exact same “logic” they apply to god. God is on our side. Whenever something good happens, god did it. Whenever something bad happens, it’s because of our sinfulness and not following god. Everything happens for a reason. A tornado hits a house and kills an entire family except for one small child, “It was a miracle that the child lived! Isn’t god amazing?!” (Nevermind the fact that god allowed the tornado that just killed everyone else in the family) The game is rigged so god can never be put in a position of blame. Same is true for the republicans.

Not surprisingly, I’ve heard a lot of people attribute our killing Osama to god’s divine help. Yes laddies and gentlemen, the very same god who stood there and watched as 3,000 men,women, and children were butchered has finally decided to help us find and kill the man responsible after 10 years, $1,500,000,000,000, and 1,000,000 war dead. God works in mysterious ways eh?

The language barrier

1 May

Lately I’ve been realizing just how much of a problem the language barrier is when it comes to just about everything. We use language all the time to communicate. Verbal language, written language, body language, computer language, etc. So many of the difficulties we have are caused by the language barrier.

In order for a language to work, everyone communicating must use the same definition. If I say “boat” and you think of what I would call a “horse”, then the language doesn’t work. The whole point is to communicate an idea by evoking in you the same mental image/concept I’m picturing. (Denotation)

But perhaps the most complex and problem causing aspect of language is connotation. Denotation refers to the literal object/concept, but connotation deals with how people interpret/feel about that object/concept. Everyone has their own personal experiences, preferences, and biases. Whenever I write, one of the most difficult tasks is trying to choose words that will convey the same emotions and flavor for a concept that I feel, but to my audience.

So we have two aspects of language that affect how we communicate ideas: denotation and connotation. In order for us to communicate effectively, both must line up. Lately I feel like this is an almost impossible task.

Take politics and religion. Two extremely important topics that impact the lives of billions of people everyday. They are also two of the most emotionally charged topics given how they are fundamental to how many people think about themselves, their identity, the world, their place in it, and how things ought to be. Given the extreme personal nature of these topics, any given concept’s connotation might vary widely from person to person. Same can be said of denotations.

For example, it is almost impossible to have a discussion about religion. In order to have good communication and a rational discussion, both parties must agree on the definition of terms. What is religion? What qualifies as a “religion”, what doesn’t? What is a god? What are the qualities associated with this concept? What is a Christian? What qualities/beliefs are associated with that concept? The answers to all of these will vary from person to person. (This is why I get some much crap when I generalize because what might apply to someone else might not apply to you, and vice versa.) You could spend hours debating these concepts alone before you even got to actually discussing what you wanted to discuss.

Instead, most people skip this phase and go straight into firing off their memorized lines at the other person. Nothing gets conveyed, nobody’s mind gets changed, they might as well be speaking in foreign languages; in fact, they pretty much are.

While I’ve noticed denotation problems seem to populate the realm of religious discussion, problems of connotation are particularly rampant when it comes to political discussion. A perfect example is the term “liberal.” Conservatives are masters of language manipulation. They can take a word, shift its connotation, and thus frame and entire issue in their favor. For decades they did (and still do) this with the word “liberal.” By repeating the word with an ugly connotation, as if it was an epithet, they shifted the flavor and emotions surrounding that concept to something ugly. “Liberal” became something disgusting, something to hide from, something un-American. Today’s hot button word is “socialism.” Conservatives are pushing to shift the connotation of that word to something akin to communism.

So how is a rational discussion of ideas and concepts possible when, at the word “liberal”, you think “un-American, big government, communist, elitist”, and at the word “conservative”, I think “fascist, bigoted, greedy theocratic American Taliban”? Short answer: it isn’t.

The sad fact of life is that rational discussion of the issues is no longer possible. The idea of having a “debate” is a complete farce. In order to actually have these discussions we would need to first agree on the denotations and then connotations, otherwise we’re speaking different languages. Quite simply, we don’t have the attention span for that. Instead, all of our issues are decided by who has more babies, which demographic is dying out, and who gets their voters to the polls. That’s it. Reality be damned.

Karma smarma

7 Apr

Good afternoon boys and girls! Today I want to talk about Karma! Every once in a while I run into someone who proudly touts the fact that they’re a “big believer in karma!” This they usually do with a smile on their lips, a twinkle in their eye, and a bounce in their step! Yes sur-ree! They firmly believe in that warm and fuzzy notion that every good action done will be payed back in return!

And that’s about as far as their thinking goes.

But let’s follow this notion through to its logical conclusion, shall we? Now karma is originally from the Hindu faith, a main tenant of which is reincarnation. You see, karma has two parts to it:

A do good and good things will happen to you.

Do bad and bad things will happen to you.

“What goes around comes around” is a simple summation. With reincarnation, karma acts as a sort of moral equalizer, an assurance of justice in this life or the next. If you do bad things now, sooner or later bad things will happen to you; which brings us to kids with cancer:

Aw, don’t feel bad for this little guy! He’s getting what he deserves! He must have been a horrible person in a past life! So too were his parents! Wow, can you imagine how bad they must have been to deserve to watch their otherwise innocent child slowly die before their eyes? Payback’s a bitch ain’t it? Oh well, you know what they say, “what goes around comes around!”

Whenever someone says they’re a big believer in karma, they most always mean they only believe in half of it, the feel good half.

People who don’t believe in reincarnation, yet who still want to hold onto karma, often try to rationalize this conclusion away. In my personal experience, the majority of these types of people are the warm and fuzzy, liberal “spiritual but not religious” types. The problem is, without the cycle of rebirth, karma loses a lot of its ability to be a moral equalizer. Karma without reincarnation has no good explanation for why bad shit happens to otherwise good people early on in their lives. (Like kids with cancer). These people simply haven’t been around long enough to accumulate enough bad karma to deserve something so horrible.

You could argue that it is a result of the child’s parents’ bad karma, but that is beyond not fair to the child; and karma’s supposed to be all about fairness!

The other problem with the idea of karma sans reincarnation is (ignoring childhood diseases) the notion that you will eventually get what you deserve later in life. All you have to do is take one look around the world to see that that is blatantly untrue! Bad people get away with everything all the time! Just look at politicians, bankers, and child molesting priests! Stalin killed between 20 and 80 million people and lived a life of luxury and power till his last dying gasp. Evil wins every single day while the downtrodden and oppressed are distracted with movies and TV dramas where good always wins out in the end.

No, for these “spiritual but not religious” types their karma is a special karma, one tailor made for what they wish were true: To them, karma mainly focuses on paying back good deeds. In the rare times when it deals with paying back bad deeds, the farthest it will ever go is in giving a speeding ticket to that jerk who cut you off at the stop light. That’s it. No worse “punishment” for simple things that offend the believer in karma.

At best it’s very self-serving. At worst it’s an excuse to be apathetic about achieving justice.

 

Don’t confuse people for their religion

5 Apr

Earlier this morning I got into a small facebook argument about conservative Christians and sexuality when one of the people involved said:

“it’s important not to confuse these people with their religion.”

I can provide the full discussion for anyone who wants to make sure I’m not taking this out of context, but the way I understood what he was saying was that an individual (or group of individuals) who claim to be X should not be confused with X when they don’t actually follow X.

For example earlier this week a crazy lady tried to attack a painting saying that it was homosexual and evil for showing two women with their breasts exposed. Now this lady is crazy, there’s no doubt, but she claims her motivation is her religious views. There are plenty of conservative religious people (across all faiths, but primarily Christianity and Islam) who view the human body and any form of sexuality as evil.

When the person in the afore mentioned facebook argument said not to confuse people for their religion, he was saying that although these people claim their views on sexuality are Christian and are rooted in the bible, they’re not, and as such we should not confuse these “Christians” for being “Christians.”

But that just begs the question: What is a person’s religion if not the sum of their personal beliefs?

A group of “Christians” who would ascribe to said crazy lady’s views on the human body would undoubtedly say that they were Christians and that anyone who did not view the body as evil were not “true” Christians. The term Christian is essentially a useless term as it means whatever anyone wants it to mean. (Which royally pisses me off because any attempt at making words useless and thus making it harder to communicate concepts/ideas just reeks of 1984 style new-speak; but I digress)

If group X claims they belong to religion Y, and that their beliefs come from religion Y’s holy book, book Z, but nobody in group X has read or cares to read book Z, then isn’t their religion just whatever group X wants it to be?

Sure, their sexually oppressive version of Christianity might not be what Christianity is to you, but it is their version of Christianity and they’re going to call themselves Christians.  Are they wrong? They sure as hell think you are. Who’s right? Well nobody since it’s all “just a matter of faith and interpretation.”

In reality you can’t “confuse people for their religion;” whatever they say their religion is, that’s their religion. The 9/11 hijackers were Muslims, so too are the Muslims who say what the 9/11 hijackers did was despicable and un-Islamic. Abortion clinic bombers and the Westboro Baptist Church are Christians, so too are the liberal, gay-friendly, pro-choice Catholics. They all claim the same meaningless title to describe their radically different faiths. This in turn just inhibits our ability to discuss them and the views they have because the moment you use the term “Christian” to talk about the Westboro Baptist Church, another “Christian” with a different definition will jump up and scream that you’re generalizing and mis-representing the “true” Christians like them. (But I guess for some people muddying the water and making it harder for us to express ideas by requiring extremely specific, legalistic language is a good thing. Personally, whenever someone tries to inhibit the discussion of ideas, that’s a sign that they’re automatically wrong.)

How else are we to discuss these people if not by the meaningless title they choose to call themselves? Should we adopt an ever expanding system of Christian 1, Christian 1a, Christian 1b, etc? That would be impossible to keep track of, and yet again everyone would argue about what classification they get. Perhaps if we copied how we classified various animals by Life-Domain-Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order-Family-Genus-Species and created a similar system for religious belief? Maybe then we can stop confusing lions for mammals and Christians for Christians.

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