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Andrew Sullivan is a Dick Cont’d

Should we pray for Hitch? I will, in part to piss him off.

That’s what’s fucked up about it. You’re not praying because you think it’s going to legitimately do him some good, you’re praying because you see his illness as a chance to be a complete jerk? Tell me how that’s not fucked up.

And I agree with the rest of what Sully says

I don’t believe in treating the sick as suddenly tender souls who cannot enjoy humor and debate – and that would apply in truckloads for my dear friend. I’m delighted that no one ever pulls a punch with me on the grounds of chronic disease and I’m sure Hitch would feel the same way.

Absolutely, don’t pull punches, don’t be afraid of debating, and if you want to be a dick fine, but we’re gonna call you on it. And I would think that religious people would have a problem with their religion being used specifically to be a dick — oh wait, nevermind on that one. And if you feel the need to pray, fine, but what you said was

May the God he believes poisons everything be with him

DICK. And oh so guilty of being the kind of Christianist that he claims he hates.

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Andrew Sullivan is a Dick

Today he posted about Hitch’s Cancer and said the following:

I’m devastated by the news. We need Christopher around for a long, long time. I do not know the details and understand his need for privacy. But he seems in good spirits if this classically British understatement is symptomatic of his mood:

“I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus. This advice seems persuasive to me.”

May the God he believes poisons everything be with him. And a simple word of encouragement: surviving a potentially fatal disease can be a form of liberation. I look forward to an even more liberated Hitch.

I’m glad that he cares, and I feel much the same way towards Sully as I do towards Hitch, they’re both interesting to read even when I totally disagree with them which isn’t infrequent.  But what a dickhead thing to say.  He doesn’t believe God does anything because he doesn’t believe in God, he thinks that religions poisons everything because it’s false.  It’s in the damn title of the book he wrote, it’s not difficult.

And then, using the opportunity of someone’s major, potentially fatal illness to insist on pushing your religious bullshit is… well it’s fucking rude bullshit.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!

Hooray for Free Speech!

5 random things I’ve been thinking about

1. Toilet seat sheets.  If you’re too grossed out to sit on the toilet, is a sheet really going to make it better?

The show I’m working on, these two women who were otherwise not like high maintenance said they would never use a toilet that wasn’t their own without a toilet sheet.  What?  Seriously?  Was I raised by weirdos because they never said don’t put your butt on the toilet?

2. Ableism and online dating.  Particularly in the mental health department, but also in general.

Now I appreciate that online dating attracts a somewhat skewed group that has the semi-anonymity of the internet to make unusual demands, but I have seen so so many guys profiles where they say they don’t want to date “anyone who’s ever been on anti-depressants” or “I don’t want to date anyone who has had any health problems”.  These are not necessarily guys who, in my opinion, have girls knocking down their door and they’re just trying to filter out some people by being picky.  And I realize we’ve all got things where we aren’t able to have a nuanced viewpoint, but here are guys lumping in people with asthma with people with cancer, or people with well-treated depression with untreated schizophrenics.  I get how taking on a significant other with terminal cancer or an untreated illness might be difficult, but are we going to scratch out every one with a health quirk?

At first I thought, oh it’s just this one guy who had a bad experience, but I’ve seen it so many times I just don’t know what to think.  Is it really that awful to date someone who at some point in their life was depressed or has some other chronic illness that’s well under control?

3. Also related to online dating, why do guys who are super Christian message me advertising their good Christian morals when I state that I am an atheist?  I mean, I know why, they don’t read, but I mean really.

4. Equating religion with race.  There’s a super long thread over at Pharyngula where people are accusing PZ of being a Nazi for posting a picture that a cartoonist drew of Muhammed because there are people in Europe who are racist against Muslim immigrants.  I’m just not sure “racist” is the right word.  “Religionist” maybe?  Anyway, critiquing a religion isn’t a violent act, no matter how crudely done, and I don’t understand how blasphemy is racist.

5. How difficult or impossible it is for the religious to understand that there is value and meaning to life regardless of whether there is an afterlife.

Useful Links:

Dirty Toilets

PZ

Sully on Tragic Atheism

The most horrifying thing ever:

(((:~{> Muhammad approves this message

OCFA Conference 2010; Where I met PZ

I’ll give you all the links up front, and all the pictures at the end.

All the pictures are here.

9:20 Phil Zuckerman
10:00 Edward Tabash
10:40 Brian Dunning
11:20 William Lobdell
Lunch 12-1 with ‘Tabletalk’ table discussions
1:00 Michael Shermer
1:45 PZ Myers
2:30 Dan Barker
3:15 Stephanie Campbell
4:00 John Shook
4:45 Joe Nickell
5:30-7:15 Dinner

—–

The conference was in Costa Mesa, and I’m in Glendale, feel free to map it, suffice to say it takes about an hour fifteen to do that drive.  I decided I wasn’t going to kill myself and try to get there at 9 since I didn’t really know any of the morning speakers and I didn’t want to get up at 6AM on a Saturday.  So I got there around 10:45 and got through the whole check in thing to catch the second half of Brian Dunning’s talk.  He was talking about the Virgin of Guadalupe and I confess my interest was not sparked by the topic.  Which is just as well as it gave me time to get my bearings.

The conference was held in a community center adjacent to a local public library.  It was a smallish venue, and everything was contained within one large room.  This was a little awkward because the vendors and speakers were in the same room, so if you wanted to go look at stuff you had to do it either as quietly and unobtrusively as possible or in short bursts between speakers.

After Dunning was finished, I met up with a guy I met on Meetup.com who had said he was also going and sat up front with him.  So the first talk I sat through entirely was William Lobdell.  Lobdell is a very dynamic speaker, and I really preferred the speakers who focused on sort of broader strokes and the whys and what we can do about it, not just simple facts.  And I am always drawn to stories of how people lost their faith.

Then, it was lunch time, and I walked across the street to Quizno’s because I’m a picky eater and I doubted they were serving a sandwich I would eat.  There was a very strange homeless guy who sort of followed me and I bought him a sandwich.  Don’t tell my mother, she gets freaked out by those things.  Ran into an interesting guy, I want to say from Riverside, who was also at the conference and eating at Quizno’s.  Apparently Riverside has the biggest Atheist community like ever.

I took my sandwich back across the street and there was a seat open next to meetup guy who was sitting with PZ, but first I wanted to say hello to my twin.  There was a guy there wearing the same shirt as me, and interestingly enough he and the guy he was sitting with, lime green Alaskan, would end up being the people I sat with at dinner.  Anyway I said hello and they graciously offered me a seat but I wanted to go sit with PZ.

So I sat with PZ during lunch, which was really half over by the time I got back with my sandwich.  But it was an interesting group.  Talked about why we call evolution a theory and why changing the name to something like “law” is letting the terrorists win.  Here’s where my former math major instincts made me probably a bit too ferocious about the fact laws involve math equations and there’s no mathematical way of predicting evolution.

Post lunch and it’s Michael Shermer, the aforementioned Jonathan Pryce doppelganger with the arrogant swagger, and I can’t for the life of me remember what he talked about except that it pissed some people off.  If anyone was there and remembers, tell me?

Then it was PZ and he went out of his normal field and talked about astronomy and William Herschel.  And posed the simple answer to the days topic “Can science and religion coexist?  Yes.”  And made many many jokes about stepping all over Dan Barker’s time.  And then he talked about neanderthals and people having sex.  What I like about PZ when he speaks is that he seems like he’s going to be a stuffy non-offensive professor, but he’s someone who’s genuinely at ease with both himself and the realities of human nature.  In other words, he likes to talk about sex with neanderthals.

Dan Barker spoke and, again, his was a story of de-conversion so I found it pretty interesting.  His book has been recommended to my by Amazon but it didn’t strike me as interesting til I saw he talk.  He spoke mostly towards lawsuits, particularly the one against the National Day of Prayer.  As someone who finds the intricacies of constitutional law interesting (nerd!) I thought this was interesting.

I did not find Stephanie Campbell that interesting, not because she’s a bad speaker, but because her talk was so focused on the facts of the case of Texas Education and not about anything broader reaching.  The entire thing ended with a Vote for your School Board plea that I guess was somewhat universal, but it felt very much like a lecture.  And this is a topic, education and the south, that I find generally interesting, but I guess it was just that it was all about Texas and not about why it was happening, or the players involved, or how it impacted people.  Just the facts, ma’am.  I was also sad that there was only one woman speaker.  Where are all the ladies at?  Clearly I need a book deal so I can be invited to conferences to be snarky about religion.

John Shook surprised me and was, I thought, the most interesting and compelling speaker of the entire event.  He was so interesting that I briefly entertained the idea of sitting with him at the speakers dinner instead of PZ.  He’s a philosopher and is of the opinion that philosophy, not science, is the natural opposition to religion.  And he used a term “a-theology” as that which is most directly opposed to theology.  He recognized that the more insidious religious ideas are those that are constantly moving the goal posts, because they accept science and then turn it into religion.  Anyway, if they end up selling DVDs of this or it ends up on youtube, I’ll link to it.

The day ended with Joe Nickell who talked about the Shroud of Turin.  PZ had just talked about it, so I was up to date on the facts.  He’s an interesting guy.  After he spoke, I talked to him when we walked over to dinner and he’s one of those guys who is determinedly open minded.  In a way where you worry that they’re too open  minded, but he’s dedicated enough to the scientific method that he seems all right.  But he doesn’t judge things as a whole, only specific incidents.  Like if a woman is possessed, he would go and look at her specifically rather than looking at possessions as a whole.  He doesn’t consider himself a debunker, but rather an investigator of supernatural claims.  It’s a fine distinction, and I’m guessing it wins him points with the people he’s investigating, but I found it interesting that he is so committed to not being dismissive of people’s bizarre claims.

And then was dinner, which I’ve already talked about, and after dinner I went home because it was a long drive and I didn’t want to spend another 50 bucks to stay for the rest of the program and not get home til one in the morning.

Phil Zuckerman asks the tough questions of other speakers

Brian Dunning on The Virgin of Guadalupe

William Lobdell on becoming atheist

This guy was super friendly

Michael Shermer

Very Angry at Michael Shermer

Alex Uzdavines introduces PZ

PZ doing something interesting with his hand

Dan Barker seems like the most impossibly nice fellow

Stephanie Campbell wishes to mess with Texas

As a survivor of Southern Public Education, I ask Stephanie a question

John Shook being very compelling

Joe Nickell knows how to say JAHYsus

Joe Nickell's reproduction of the Shroud of Turin was scary as fuck

The shot of the whole table at dinner

Me and PZ and Lime Green Alaskan and my twin and in the distance you can see Phil and Cute Blonde in Glasses

Didn't stay for this, but does it look a little Last Supper to you too?

Tom Lehrer makes me happy

Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.



Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews.

Lost Weekend

I had a weekend that was no good for writing. I’ve set myself a deadline of end of Thanksgiving holiday for a rewrite of Bible Con and a Polished first draft of Dyke for a Day. I had time to work on it this weekend because all of my editing projects are floating in nebulous waiting for other people to do things. But I didn’t work because my shoulder is messed up. This didn’t make it impossible to write, but it was really uncomfortable to sit in front of my computer or look down. It’s still killing me. Maybe I should start dictating.

Instead, I just watched a lot of Christopher Hitchens. I try to imagine the God/No God debate from the other point of view and find I just cannot. Cannot imagine it. I suppose I am like Hitchens, I never lost my faith, I just realized I didn’t have it. I was eight, I found all my teeth that I’d lost in my mom’s room (why she kept them, I don’t know). And there it was, proof that there was no tooth fairy. And that meant no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus, and no Jesus.

I am going back to Columbia, SC this weekend. Doing the red-eye Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I’m seriously considering trying to raise money and film my feature in SC. I think it could be done for a modest budget, and I think the idea of a Native Daughter shooting in SC is something that could raise some money. I have a lot of connections there, including with the university. I hold secret hopes that somehow I could tie it into the university and get a lot of young people involved with the production. There aren’t a lot of opportunities in film in South Carolina.

Maybe I’ll get some writing done on the plane. We’re going to not put odds on this.

I started watching Jeeves and Wooster. I highly recommend it.

First Day As Story Assistant; Argument with Apparently Illiterate Religious Types

I just had to sign a confidentiality agreement which says I can’t reveal the nature and details of my employment.  Does that mean I can’t tell people what I do?  Like, if I was an editor on Toddlers and Tiaras, would I have to be like, “I work on a show in some capacity, that’s all I can say.”

Weird.

I am working on a show, I won’t tell you what it is, but it is a show I absolutely adore.  So far my duty seems to be to go through the last season to find high drama/conflict clips to put together for montages in a reunion type thing.

I had a religious argument with a bunch of people who seem to lack… well, brains.  A friend of mine posts these relationship questions on her facebook page, I often respond because almost all of her friends are extremely religious southern African Americans, and I like to be a different POV.  If anyone can tell me what CN is saying, I’d love to know.  I think he’s saying that the Devil wrote the constitution…

Two major questions I have:

1. Why is having faith an acceptable reason to not look critically at your belief system?

2. Why is it OK to demand atheists be well versed in the Bible when they disagree with a theist, but not OK to demand that theists read secular philosophy to argue with an atheist?

—-

The discussion

SJ: According to the Biblical tale, woman was made from man for man. Where does this fit in our postmodern society? Is there room for submission? What is the role of the woman to the man?

CN: 2 submit and be his help mate… As in da man is da provider and protector who is supposed 2 love his wife like Christ love da church…

AFM: I think it fits in the same trash bin as things like stoning children for disobeying their parents, not wearing clothes of mixed fiber, and the belief that homosexuality is wrong. Just because a belief is old doesn’t mean it’s worth anything. The role of woman to man is the same of man to woman, mutual respect and interdependence.

BJ: All sin is wrong whether it be murder or homosexuality it’s wrong. As far as mixing of clothing it was to show distinction between God’s chosen nation and the other surrounding nations he didn’t want them mixing with other nations and engaging in their customs or worshipping theirs gods. As far as the stoning of children or anyone we ought to thank God for sending his son to remove the ordinances that were against us (Colossians 2:14). Blame Eve for the role of a woman but submission to your husband isn’t forced like it was in the days of Mr from the color purple or Ike Turner. Submission is a form of respect for your partner by allowing them to operate in their divine roles…it’s called compromise with each other and obedience to God’s word but if you are not obedient to God’s word how can you expect to compromise?

AFM:”if you are not obedient to God’s word how can you expect to compromise?” Um, by talking and discussing things and coming to reasonable conclusions. I don’t need an invisible dude threatening me to choose to do something moral. That’s just silly. As for homosexuality, how can you put that in the same boat as murder? Murder takes away someone’s life. Homosexuality doesn’t take anything away from anybody.

SeJ: Oh my goodness! I’m so glad I know where I stand…whew!

CN: Well da best way 2 put it all at da end is either U gon follow his word or U not… God gave us free will.. He gives us an option… He allows us 2 make da decision 2 love him or not… Its not complicated, but people make it dat way and try 2 use everything in their own way and outta context… God gave us dominion over da earth, which yes Eve was manipulated out of, but things didn’t change until Adam ate da forbidden fruit, because God made him da head and gave him da specific direction 2 not eat of it… It was his job 2 tell his wife not 2 and even in her disobediance he should have not eaten of it…But dats da free will.. Now thru his son which is still God(Jesus Christ) he gave us 2 new laws dats still prevelant 2 da 10 commandments, but is more in line with Grace and Mercy… Which is 2 love God and love ur neighbor as U love urself and so on and so on… Its deep but U just have 2 seek dat wisdom and knowledge and he will answer..

AFM: Genesis also has two creation stories, one of which presents men and women as being created at the same time, so the bible itself isn’t in agreement on whether women are created from men or not. The first account says male and female [God] created them (Genesis 1:27), which has been assumed by critical scholars to imply simultaneous creation, whereas the second account states that God created Eve from Adam’s rib because Adam was lonely (Genesis 2:18 ff.).

CN: U also have 2 take in consideration dat God didn’t literally write da bible tho he has all power 2 change any word in it… He had man 2 write wat was going on so therefore it may not be wrote in exactly da order we prefer.. Just as da fall of satan and da other angels.. Its not known if dat fall was during man or b4. Dats just one of those great mysteries dat won’t be discovered till dat great day of judgement… But with dat said it still doesnt mean take a part from da bible and try 2 justify da wrong. He gave us rules 2 live by 2 be prosperous and 2 C Heaven. Why, because he knew man would manipulate da world. Have u heard freedom of speech, but U can’t say a man made bad word… Right 2 bare guns, but u catch pistol cases 24/7 cuz in order 2 obtain a gun u gotta have dis and u gotta have dat. Da constitution and everything is deceived by da devil… All I can say is if u wanna find out then study as U would anything else, but in dis particular subject, belief and faith is needed.

AFM: I can’t actually read anything you’ve written Courtney, but I have read the bible and you’re right, you need a certain amount of disregarding reality and faith in the nonsensical to understand it. I really recommend Bart D. Ehrman for some really interesting and accessible biblical scholarship which examines all the inconsistencies as well as the overarching messages contained within the different books of the Bible. It’s useful I think for both the faithed and unfaithed to really understand what it is they’re professing to believe in or not, as the case may be.

BJ: The Bible is plain and simple either you serve God or not but you are going to serve. If you are not serving God then who do you serve (1 John 3:7-8)? People should really study his word before babbling off their erroneous philosophies. When I said sin is wrong, that was Bible but maybe in attempt to convey the seriousness of sin and God’s take on it maybe I should have said there’s no difference in homosexuality and liars or homosexuality and stealing…would that be more appeasing? For those who no me “the invisible guy” know that I’m really not the appeasing type so I’m taking one for the team.

BJ: The Bible isn’t in chronological order…Chronological Bibles are for sale invest in one and it will really open your understanding

AFM: @Bethel That’s nice and all, but I still don’t get how a thinking person could actually believe that someone loving another person is a bad thing. I don’t really care about God, I care about people. Your irrational hatred of homosexuals makes it clear that you put your own belief over actually taking care of the people around you, physically and emotionally. Whether it’s chronological or not, the books don’t agree with each other. They tell the same stories differently, and they don’t agree on what it all means. I’ve read the bible, I’ve read the scholarship, I know what I’m talking about, but it’s not clear that you do.

BJ: @ Ashley I’ve studied the whole Bible in its entirety I didn’t just read it I studied it. Inordinate affection of any kind is sin because it goes against the nature which God intended but since you and I aren’t on the same team this whole conversation is pointless because I love God with my whole heart and with his love I love his people but like you said you Don’t care about God just his creations which befuddles me because isn’t the creator greater than his creation? The Bible does say if this gospel be hid it is hid to those that are lost.

AFM: I have studied it, I was raised in a church, went to Sunday school, went to bible camp, went to university with a major theological school. In all these places I spent a lot of time with the bible and learned that I cared a lot more about reality than fiction. I took the time to understand what I’m talking about, why don’t you study Darwin, Hume, Bentham, Paine, and Epicurus before deriding anyone who has chosen not to believe? Or is your faith of such weak stuff that it’s all you have, anything else might break it?

BJ: My faith in God is just that strong that I chose him over any man’s vain philosophies. You don’t know me you don’t know the journey I took to become a believer of Christ so don’t make assumptions because you don’t know what i’ve studied. I know Darwin, Hume, Paine, Bentham or Epicurus can save anyone from hell’s fire. Like I said you and I are not on the same team we do not serve the same God so our conversation is pointless and starting to become a circular argument. I can tell you right now that there is nothing that you or anyone else can say in this entire world that can shake my faith in God.

AFM: Obviously I don’t know you, and you clearly don’t know me.  Everyone has individual journeys, all I’m asking is that before you dismiss my point of view offhand you allow for the fact that I did come to it from a place of learning and study, not from a place of shallow rejection.  And if you were truly trying to understand other people rather than lump them into some category of Damned, you’d be willing to look at their perspective rather than making assumptions.  Nothing I recommended for your reading would make you stop believing, it would merely allow for you to understand that there are other perspectives in life that allow people to make good, moral and just decisions, regardless of whether they’re religious or not.  But again, you show a preference for being overly protective of your faith rather than understanding of the humans that share this world with you.  If it’s that important to you to hate on gay people, fine, just don’t expect anyone to think you’re a very good person.

BJ: Don’t try to make me out to be something I’m not because I harbor no hate towards gays or anyone else I don’t care what people do with the free will that God gave them. I’m just flabbergasted that you feel that you are the only one who comes from a learned perspective and that you are the only person who have looked into different philosophies. Don‘t make ignorant assumptions of someone else’s intellect because you assume they are not as keen on a subject as you people don’t like intellectual arrogance.

AFM: You’re the one who said I needed to read the bible as though I was coming from a place of ignorance. Don’t make accusations you don’t like hearing thrown back at you, someone might accuse you of being a hypocrite.

BJ: I said study it because anybody can read it

AFM: Do you see how that’s the exact same thing you’re saying I shouldn’t do? How is it OK for you to assume that I haven’t studied the bible but not OK for me to ask you to study other points of view? You are a hypocrite and a not particularly astute one, enjoy your ignorance and misplaced vitriol.

BJ: When I said study I was talking to everyone that’s why I said people should study not Ashley and if that makes me a hypocrite Ok I’m a hypocrite….YOU HEAR THAT FACEBOOK WORLD BETHEL JOHNSON IS A DUMB HYPOCRITE.

AFM: Yeah, I’m pretty much OK with that.