Archive for the ‘Personal Thoughts’ Category

Letter to the Internet RE: Feminism   Leave a comment

Hey Internet,

Can we stop threatening to kill, assault, rape and otherwise harm people already?

I say this because I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion on sexism and feminism lately. From catcalls in New York, to Dr. Matt Taylor wearing a shirt with sexy women on it, to someone threatening a school shooting if Anita Sarkeesian came to speak (GO UTAH! Way to make America proud!), to the pay gap, to the…

Look, it’s a big topic. But it is also one that needs to be discussed. There are a lot of real problems, arguments to be made, and solutions to be found.

But it won’t happen until people chill out and actually, you know, try to have the discussion.

Let take Anita Sarkeesian as an example. Whether you agree with her or not, (I personally find her too sex negative for my taste, she tends to over- generalize, and takes things out of context) she is the perfect example of how not to respond to someone criticizing your position.

When she came out and started talking about video games and sexism, lots of people disagreed with her, and others supported her.

That’s the normal part.

The part where things start to go a little awry is when people started threatening to kill her, leaking her personal information online, making flash games about abusing her, and ultimately making her flee her home and call the police.

All because she thought video games might be a bit sexist and exclusionary, and that 50% of the population might enjoy them more if they weren’t.

This happens pretty much anytime a woman speaks up on the internet about feminism (See Gamergate). Even when they make good points, or bring up legitimate issues. Well, unless they disagree with feminism, that is.

There is no good reason for this. Absolutely none.

I’m not saying that people have to agree with someone’s bad arguments. There are plenty of those out there, and we need people to point them out.

I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to also bring forward your own poor arguments. Just expect them to be refuted, and be open to learning why they are viewed as poor.

Through this, we create solutions and grow as people.

But when we do things the way the internet prefers to do things, we completely kill rational discourse.

Because of all the threats thrown at her, no one can ever seriously argue against Anita Sarkeesian again.

No matter how calm, kind, or rational your critique is, you will get roped in with people like Thunderfoot and the Amazing Atheist.

Even if they were making nice, logical arguments (although they aren’t; both put so much venom in their videos even a rattlesnake gets jealous, but that is part of their brand) you get thrown in with all of the other less intelligent fans.

You know, the ones actually threatening to rape her and burn her house down. (I also understand that it’s just people on comment boards, and if that’s where it stayed, it be less of a problem.)

If I were to speak out in her defense, I get labeled a wimp, a “beta-male”, or a social justice warrior. Someone who just white knighting to impress anonymous women online. As opposed to trolling them online and accepting my loneliness as a bitter ball of righteous indignation.

I can already hear the counterpoint, “Women do it too! They are just as bad as men, if not more so, due to institutional oppression, societal protections, etc.”

I agree. No, not completely. I understand both sides have their loudmouthed, idiotic spokespeople. But, even though I would like to say so, they are not equally to blame.

But I don’t see nearly as many women threatening men by posting their personal information, making dozens of vitriolic and hate spewed videos and blog posts about a single person, creating games about abusing them, threatening to shoot up their events, etc.

(If I’m wrong in that regard, please feel free to show me. Unlike most people on the internet, I’m willing to change my opinion when I’m presented with evidence to the contrary. I don’t buckle down and shove my head even further up my own rectum.)

I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that, until a few years ago, video games, internet, conventions, and other nerdy things were bastions for younger, single, dejected men. I’m not trying to stereotype, but I am at least two of those things, and I flocked to the internet like a moth to flame.

Women have started “invading” these things, and people just don’t like to share.

But since we share 50% of the population, and women aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So we should share the internet and video games too. Women are pretty cool.

You can call it feminism, equalism, “beta-male” talk, etc. I don’t really care.

Everyone deserves equal rights, equal opportunities, and equal treatment. We should all strive to make that a reality.

No one, and it is sad that I actually have to state this, deserves to be threatened, to be harmed, or to be assaulted for saying their piece.

The people who do so, male or female, need to grow up.

Thanks for reading,

Shaman

 

P.S: Let me know how you feel about this in the comments. I love discussing the issues. 🙂

Posted 11/23/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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Fleeting: A Haiku (Plus An Update On Life)   Leave a comment

Our time is fleeting
With moments worth repeating
Fond memories earned.

——-

Remember when I said that I might be busy because of my new job?

This quarter is the busiest time of the year, and although its overwhelming, I’m staying on top of things and doing well.However that doesn’t leave me with a lot of energy to sit down and write.

I have lots of stuff written down. Halfway decent stuff even.

But I’m having a bit of a problem with the whole typing it up and posting it thing.

So posts may be a little far apart. I’m going to keep trying, but worst case scenario you may only hear from me once a month or so.

Thanks for reading. 

-Shaman

Posted 11/10/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts, Poetry

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Are you really a writer?   2 comments

I don’t consider myself a writer.

In the most technical sense of the word, I am. These are in fact, words I am typing, and supposedly people read them.

But a waiter at a restaurant writes out my lunch order, and I read it when I get the bill. A cop writes me a ticket for speeding, and I read that also, before cursing him in the name of all deities fictional and imaginary. Luckily for me, I take the bus. 🙂

My point is, just writing things down doesn’t make them writers, and doesn’t make me one either.

I’m just an EDI configuration analyst who writes a blog on the side.

But maybe I’m a bad example. I do this as a hobby; as a way to get my voice out more and to rant at my friends less. It is not my dream to one day be The Next Great American Author™.

So how about other examples?

I have a friend who writes every day. Her dream is, in fact, to one day become The Next Great American Author™, as famous as Stephen King or Mark Twain.

I’ve read her writing, and I like it a lot. It could use some peer review and revision, like everything else. But she has a lot of raw talent. She is reluctant to call herself a writer; at least not yet, and I agree.

I would call her a dreamer, who aspires to one day be a writer.

How about my dad?

He’s actually written 3 novels (that I know of) and is currently working on another. He’s tried to get at least one of them published, and would like to get all of them out there some day. But I’ve never read any of them. I also wouldn’t consider him a writer, because that isn’t he is known for.

I would consider him a radio talk show host who has also written some books.

How about some on who has an English degree, and writes every day, and also dreams, like my friend above, of being The Next Great American Author™?

Nope.

Having a degree only shows that you should be a competent writer, it doesn’t prove you are one. Just look at JK Rowling, Kurt Vonnegut, and the other famous writers out there without a BA in English. You need the actual skills to back it up, or it’s pointless bragging.

No, I would call this person a barista (or sales clerk, fry cook, etc.) with $50,000 worth of student debt, who dreams of being a writer.

So how would I discern a “true” writer?

Well, it isn’t through dreams, or degrees, or rough drafts nobody reads. A dream keeps you going, a degree teaches you skills, and a rough draft gets you started.  Those things are all good, and they can help you be a writer.

But they aren’t what earn you the right to call yourself one.

The thing that does that is proof,  plain and simple.

Because it doesn’t matter what you say, or how loud or often you say it. What matters is what you do.

A musician doesn’t go around introducing himself as a musician at parties, he goes out and plays music.

A smart person doesn’t tell her coworkers she is smart, she shows it by excelling at her job.

A chef cooks, a painter paints, an actress acts, and a dancer dances.

A writer doesn’t go constantly exclaiming he is a writer to everyone who asks (and probably many people who didn’t.)

A writer sits down and writes.

So if someone tells me they are a writer, my next question is going to be, “What have you written?”

If they stumble and bumble their way to some excuse about how they just aren’t ready yet, or some other weak not-really-an-answer, I won’t take them seriously.

Because you can call yourself whatever you want. I can call myself Grand Dictator Shaman Romney, Wizard King of the Etherium, Esq.

But if I can’t back it up with full caster levels and the ability to practice law, I’m just making stuff up to make myself feel important.

If you can’t show proof that you are a writer, you are doing the same thing.

However, that is just one EDI-configuration-analyst-who-writes-a-blog-on-the-side’s opinion, and I would love your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Shaman

Posted 10/18/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

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Hey, Guess What?   3 comments

Once more into the prompt.

Our free-write is back by popular demand: today, write about anything — but you must write for exactly ten minutes, no more, no less.

(I only edited this for formatting/ clarity. The core writing was all in 10 minutes.)

I got a new job!

The offer came out of nowhere (I had applied by putting my name and resume in one of those cheesy looking ads on the side of a website), and I got the job within a couple of days. The pay is much better than the one I’m at now, good benefits, 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, etc. It is in a tech field doing something I’ve never even heard of, with what seems like an awesome bunch of people.

It almost feels too good to be true. It feels like I’m going to get there and it is going to turn out to be some nasty sweatshop where they beat me with a riding crop for hours on end and laugh at my continual suffering.

Or even worse, it could be a call center.

But, I’m trying to stay optimistic, and I am definitely excited.

It feels weird to leave this job. I’ve been working here for over two years; it feels like I’m leaving a huge chunk of myself behind. In the time working here I’ve become a whole different person. I no longer hate myself; I wake up in the morning and I am glad to see the person staring back at me. I finally am (mostly) in control of my demons.

So I guess this would be the inevitable next step. Once some things in life improve, everything else seems to cascade and fall into place. I couldn’t (and definitely didn’t want to) be stuck in a dead end job forever.

So what does my new job mean for this blog?

I still want to keep it going. This has been a big turning point for me. Making blogging a goal helped keep me focused, and helped keep me from giving up. But I have no idea how much I’ll be able to do with this new job. I’m pretty sure it’ll actually give me more of an ability to write now, but I won’t be able to do so at work anymore.

So, as a heads up, for the next few months content on here may be a little sparse. I’m still going to try to post at least twice a week, and I don’t think that will be hard for me to do.

But it will probably be poems, or small, quickly voiced thoughts. The longer winded diatribes will have to wait.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Shaman.

Posted 09/25/2014 by Shaman in Daily Prompt

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Atheism is a religion   Leave a comment

I don’t normally Re-blog, but this post on atheism is very well done. Any of my friends/readers who wonder what atheism is, or at least how I define it should read this.
-Shaman

Posted 09/20/2014 by Shaman in Personal Thoughts

At Work (4 Tanka)   2 comments

At Work

Thoughts come in so fast
Readily, I grab at them
They slip through my hand
Because time stops for no man
Especially here at work.

No time for the things.
Things I need more time to do.
Things that I love most.
Can’t do what I want to do
Especially here at work.

When I stop for breath
Only a moment’s respite
And then I’m pulled back
There is no time for a break
Especially here at work

I give up and wait
For the day to be over
For the time to go
I do not want to stay here
Especially here at work

-Shaman Romney 2014

(Sorry for not posting all of last week. Work was, and still is, extremely busy. Hopefully it will slow down soon. Thanks for reading.)

Posted 09/03/2014 by Shaman in Poetry, Weekly Writing Challange

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Nothing Makes An (Adventuring) Party Like Good Friends   1 comment

Until recently, I wasn’t a very happy person.

Hell, half the time I’m still not. I’m not really anywhere I want to be in life. I’m at a job I hate, living with my mom, with no romantic prospects and no real dreams. At least any dreams I can accomplish anytime soon. Things could be a lot worse, and they are getting better. But I definitely have a long way to go.

However, even with all that, I know I would be much worse off if I didn’t have my friends. I probably wouldn’t even be here now to type this if it wasn’t for them. My friends keep me going, comfort me when I fall, and make sure I have a good time while doing both.

I know this challenge is about sidekicks, but I don’t really like to think of them that way. If anything I’m the sidekick in their stories, although I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want to call me a sidekick either.

So, being sufficiently nerdy (and because I’ve got Pathfinder on the brain), I’m going to call them my adventuring party. Omitting names of course, there are 3 other members party, and they will know who they are. (If you aren’t on the list, it’s not because I don’t like you. Maybe if you guest star in enough adventures you can join the main party too. But all my friends are awesome. Yes, even you. You can put your hand down now.)

Life’s like this, except less dragons, and more Cheetos.

We’ll go in chronological order:

First, there is the one I’ve known the longest. We met in 3rd grade, if I’m remembering correctly. It’s been a long time, that’s for sure.

He’s always been such an easy going, laid back guy. He doesn’t seem like he has to try that hard, cause he’ll either come out on top, or he’ll just roll with it. But either way, he’ll make sure to put a smile on your face. He’s the type of friend that I could not see for ten years, but come back into town and hang out with like it was just yesterday.

He just always seems to be able to lighten a mood, strike up a party, and generally just makes me feel good when he’s around.

If we are going with the classic adventuring party, he would be the rogue.

Quick witted, sure to get you into trouble but can get you out just as quickly. Although not as stalwart as the fighter or as powerful as the wizard, he’s just as invaluable as both of them. Plus, rogues are totally my favorite class.

Next is my friend I met in high school. He is the reason I am the man I am today.

In 9th through 11th grade, I was a weirdo. Well, I still am, but back then I was even more so. Wearing vests no matter what the weather, playing Yugi-oh cards, angst-ing out to Linkin Park and Metallica, etc. Not really doing anything important or thinking about anything worthwhile.
All that changed when we became friends. I don’t know why he decided to invite me on that camping trip, but we really hit it off. He is the reason I even care about philosophy, psychology, religion. Pretty much everything I write or care about know was influenced by him.

Plus, he introduced me to the world of fine cigars and bourbon. It doesn’t get better than that. It was totally worth skipping calculus to hang out.

He would be our parties’ wizard. Wise beyond his years and full of arcane knowledge, with just enough insanity behind it all to make things entertaining. Also the one with all the fun tricks and toys.

Last, but most definitely not least, is a more recent addition the party. She and I have known each other for years, but it was only through suffering the hell that was my last relationship that our friendship got stronger.

She was my ex’s roommate, and let’s just say, nothing brings you closer like adversity brought on by someone who never pays their rent. She’s just awesome. She helps me see my daughter, gives me rides everywhere, and is always willing to give me a hand. She is one of the strongest and most loving people I have ever met.

She will also listen to me rant for hours. Just imagine being forced to listen to me rant day after day. Not this nice, edited, coherent stuff. Just pure, uncut brain vomit. Sure it might be fun at first, but eventually you’d probably want to kill me just to shut me up. But she’ll not only sit and listen, but she helps me build new ideas, and tackle things from new angles. Although she may not know it, she is one of the driving forces behind this blog. If I couldn’t rant to her, I would never gather my thoughts enough to write these posts.

She is supportive beyond belief, and without her, I don’t think I would have made it through my emotional problems. She was there when I needed someone most, and I owe her my life for that, literally and gladly.

Let’s see: strong, willing to help others and sacrifice herself, protecting her friends… Sounds like a cleric to me. Not one of those fruity clerics with the staff though. One of those clerics that will smash you up with a mace if you piss them off. But otherwise is completely pleasant and helpful. She’s smart, and could kick your ass. Well, definitely my ass at least.

What class would I be?

Well if we’ve got the rogue, the wizard, and the cleric, I guess that would make me the fighter.

Strong, tough, and extremely protective of his friends. Willing to take the hits, because he trusts that his friends will have his back.

I think it suits me. Although I can’t say I’m the defender of my friends, or that I help them out as much as they help me, I’d like to think they know I do the best I can. I would gladly put myself in harm’s way for them, even when they charge headlong into battle, run screaming with the loot, or have just lit the building on fire (and it totally wasn’t their fault.)

If there is anything I want you guys to take from this little rant, it’s this: I love you guys so much, and I am absolutely honored to call you my friends. I can not put into words just how much you all mean to me, and I hope we will get to keep having these adventures for the rest of our lives.

Now, if only we could work on the loot gathering part… 🙂

-Shaman

Posted 08/23/2014 by Shaman in Weekly Writing Challange

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A Cause Worth Fighting For   2 comments

Prompting you to take action!

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

I talk about a lot of causes.

I’ve definitely covered atheism on this blog, and will probably do so in the future.

I also have strong opinions on a lot sociopolitical issues – gay marriage, equality, education, welfare, etc. – and at some point I may talk about them here too. But although I may feel passionate about those subjects, I tend to abstain from bringing them into the public square.

Politics turns into loud screaming match that gets us nowhere and doesn’t really solve anything. Were the political climate less confrontational, I might be more inclined to wade into the discussion. I also don’t really mind other people’s beliefs, and only when they are thrust upon me. Plus, we have enough irreligious warriors in the Amazing Atheist, Richard Dawkins, Jaclyn Glenn, etc., and I think they are doing a good enough job on their own.

I am also a hardcore skeptic, and I feel that debunking false claims, pseudoscience, and other sorts of woo is extremely important. But I don’t really passionately charge at people doing those things. I’m more like a sleeping volcano, who gets prodded by these things and ends up blowing up at the triggering person in a pyroclastic flow of logic and science.

That is assuming I even care at the moment.

Most strangers can believe in their crystals, homeopathy, and the like. I only really speak out when I see family and friends buying into stuff like that. So even though I feel passionate about this also, I don’t jump up and actively work against it.

There is one thing I’ve been involved in, and I still feel passionately about: Father’s rights.

I got involved in the father’s rights movement because I was a single father who was trying to establish my paternity (my ex actually wanted me to leave, since I didn’t want to be with her. She wanted to keep me off of it so her eventual husband could take my place and adopt uncontested) and gain the ability to see my daughter. I, like many other men, was put through the ringer, and I didn’t even deal directly with the courts.

I was barred from the hospital after my daughter was born, because I had the audacity to ask what steps I needed to take to be put on the birth certificate. Then, while trying to avoid court, I was forced to jump through hoops while I tried to get whatever time with her I could, which was a slowly dwindling amount. This was all because my only option was court, even if they were fully cooperative.

When I finally got sick of the run around, and asked them directly to let me put my name on the birth certificate, I was threatened with never seeing my daughter again.

I decided to petition for paternity, and didn’t see my daughter for 4 months as a result. Instead, she got to call another man dad, and I had to shell out for a lawyer. Then I had to go to mediation, take a paternity class, do a trial/integration period, give an arm and a leg, make a blood sacrifice to Cthulhu, and other legal mumbo jumbo. Eventually, all that got me basic visitation, monthly child support, and one year’s worth of arrears owed (almost 3000.) According to my lawyer, all of that was an incredible deal, and I was lucky to get it.

That was the part that I couldn’t take.

The fact that I got the bare minimum required by law, and was lucky for it, was infuriating.

Then I looked at all the other stories, all the other things people went through, and it made me even madder.

The system is corrupt, and is mired in misguided sexism for both genders. According to the courts, women are weak mothers who never want to work again and need to be protected from the evil men. The men should be reduced to nothing more than walking wallets to bleed dry, because they must all be deadbeats, even the ones who petition and fight for their children.

Things in Utah are improving slowly, especially in public awareness. But the laws have yet to really change. I heard there was a committee or something working on it, so it will still probably be a while before they do. I only hope that they change while I can still benefit from them with my daughter.

But why am I not still involved with father’s rights?

The reason is a little selfish: it’s because I don’t need to fight any more.

I have time with my daughter and an amicable relationship with my ex. I am also not in a position to gain much more, and I could (and probably would) lose a lot by trying. So for now I am happy to sit back and take a passive role trying to spread awareness to those who want to listen. That will probably change in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the thing other people fight so hard for.

I am enjoying time with my family. That is a cause worth fighting for.

-Shaman

Questions for Atheists? Answers for Everyone!   7 comments

I saw these questions on Godless Cranium, and decided I would give answering them a shot. Here are links to some other bloggers who have done the same.

——

1.) How would you define atheism?

Atheism is lack of a belief in god or gods. It is not necessarily the positive assertion that there is no god. That would be strong atheism, which some people do believe. But the majority of atheists I know are agnostic atheists like me, because we choose not to make solid knowledge claims.

 

2.) Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?

I act according to what I believe. One of those things is that I don’t believe a god exists. However, that is only one of many things I believe, and in fact doesn’t affect my actions very much at all. My view on humanity, justice and mercy, right and wrong, etc., are what actually matter.

I also think this question is just semantics, because I fit both categories. I believe there most likely is no God, there for I lack belief in God. Or I lack a belief in God, and thusly do not believe in Him.

 

3.) Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist?

Not necessarily, it depends on their reasons for attempting to do so.

If one is doing it to defend their position while in a debate with a theist, well that’s the whole point isn’t it?

When someone doesn’t want people to legislate their religious beliefs onto them (sharia law, no gay marriage, no abortions,), trying to convince them the premise of their moral system is questionable isn’t inconsistent, although in those cases I would argue they should tackle it a different way.

If someone notices people are making decisions based on false premises, not living their lives to the fullest, or making questionable and harmful choices do to the thought of God being real, trying to show them they don’t need to make those bad choices, could be seen as helping them. However, I would encourage other atheists not to evangelize, since that is just being as bad as the other people who do.

Doing it because you secretly hate god and just want to give him the big middle finger? Well that would be inconsistent. Luckily, that is only a straw man, fake atheist that people love to pretend all atheists are. 🙂

 

4.) How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?

I am as sure as I can be. We have a good picture of what we do know and a system to help us figure out new things. It is a self-correcting system , so old outdated beliefs get removed in place of new discoveries.

Now, I can’t know that it properly represents reality. We could all be programs in a MMORPG; poor suffering NPC’s that are just there for the real heroes’ enjoyment.

But what I won’t do is pretend to know that and convince others it’s true, (As much as I love Star Ocean.) There is no evidence to back up such a belief, and it would be a poor representation of reality without any.

What I do know is that atheism is much closer to representing reality than any literalist interpretation of the Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon, or any other holy book.

 

5.) How sure are you that your atheism is correct?

Similar to above, I’m as sure as I can be. But, as above, I’m sure it is more accurate than religious claims, due to having the most, and best, evidence.

 

6.) How would you define what truth is?

I would argue there is no such thing as an absolute truth. Things we thought true hundreds of years ago are now seen as fantasy, and 200 years from now will probably be no different.

If we say truth is something that corresponds with reality, then we would learn the most reliable truths from testing, observation and evidence. This is also known as the scientific method.

 

7.) Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

Because it makes no claims, it doesn’t make me accept things on faith alone, and it doesn’t involve me trying to defend an untenable position. I can believe things based on the evidence for them. Until someone can bring forth good evidence for a deity, this is the best position to hold.

 

8.) Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?

I am neither. I do not identify with either of your made up definitions. I would be a naturalist.

I would also like to state that I find the word supernatural as meaningless. To quote rationalwiki:

Supernatural as a meaningless word: Others believe that the word “supernatural” carries no meaning. For something to be “beyond nature” it would have to have no interaction with nature — and thus any events in that realm would be beyond our perception or meaningful knowledge. However, that does not exclude the possibility that events described as miracles — which occur in the natural world, despite being unusual occurrences — are possible. The key question with “supernatural” events, therefore, is not whether they are supernatural, but rather whether they occur. If they occur, they are not “supernatural,” but rather “unexplained.” If they do not occur, they are not “supernatural,” but rather “fictional.”

So on second thought, I guess I would be a physicalist by your definition. But if you showed evidence for a god, I could still be one, while being a theist. So your definition is flawed.

 

9.) Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview? Why or why not?

I deny atheism is a world view. Atheism is a stance on one question: do you believe in a god or gods? A single question does not constitute a worldview. Just makes up a part of it.

For example, someone could be an atheist, a nihilist, and a solipsist. Someone else could be an atheist who believes in crystal healing, auras, and other new age pseudoscience. They could also be like me, an atheist humanist naturalist.

If your religious beliefs alone denote your whole worldview, you have serious problems, and should reevaluate your worldview into something more meaningful.

 

10. ) Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

Mostly due to the amount of influence Christianity influences their lives. Maybe they want to have premarital sex. Maybe they want to marry someone of the same-sex. Maybe they don’t want to do anything like that, but they feel people should have the freedom to do so if their beliefs allow it.

Many are also angry.

No, not at god, that would make them angry theists. They are mad at the manipulation, at the lies, at themselves for falling for it all. They are angry that they were kept in the dark for so long. So they try to help people escape the lives they used to live. They are trying to help, but admittedly, their delivery may be harsh at times.

I tend not to be too antagonistic until a religion tries to limit my freedoms. If you have something you don’t want me to be able to do, your argument should be better than, “Because my God says so!” Good for you. But he is not my god, not even if you angrily and repeatedly proclaim he is.

Aside from that though, I’m friendly to Christianity (just ask my friends), I just do not agree with it.

 

11.) If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

Never was a believer. I’ve only recently identified as full blow atheist, and went by agnostic before then. So I was never convinced he existed in the first place, and have only gotten more and more convinced that he doesn’t.

 

12.) Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

Yes, but only because religion teaches you not to question it. Without questions, you cannot learn and grow. But I do also believe people would try to organize around something else, and get just as dogmatic about that.

So realistically things would probably be just ask bad, but in different ways.

 

13.) Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?

Depends on which sects of Christianity we are talking about.

But with it as a whole gone? Probably the same, just screwed up in different ways.

The more fundamentalist, science, evolution and homosexual hating ones, like the Westboro Baptist Church?

That would be a definite gain.

 

14.) Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?

Although I may say that belief is mistaken or irrational at times, I would never say it was a mental disorder. I think the atheists who say so are being dicks. They aren’t helping anything and only give us a bad name. No need to be insulting to get your point across, especially if you were once in the same position as them.

 

15.) Must God be known through the scientific method?

Yes, if you wanted to convince atheists of his existence.

If you alone want to have faith in him, though I may think you are misguided, who am I to stop you?

 

16.) If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

Since I do not believe in the supernatural (see above,) I do believe that in order for God to exist, there would have to be a way that we could see, test, and verify his influence in the natural world. But God himself does not have to be material to prove this.

In fact, I can show something else that falls into that category: gravity. We can’t see gravity, it is not material in the sense we can pick it up, dissect it, or put in on display. But as a force, we can see its effect on the material world extremely simply. We drop an object and it falls down.

The evidence wouldn’t even need to be that simple. But since people claim that the immaterial god affects our material existence, it would leave traces around for us to see and verify.

The reason god isn’t scientific, is because no one can prove god has a measurable effect on the world.

 

17.) Do we have any purpose as human beings?

Yes.

 

18.) If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

We decide our purpose. Everyone does.

My purpose is to help people attain happiness, and leave this world a better place than I left it.

What about yours?

 

19.) Where does morality come from?

It comes from society, upbringing, human empathy and logic, and other factors.

 

20.) Are there moral absolutes?

I’m on the side of yes. However, this is a very complex subject, and I can see validity in either side’s arguments.

I will say that even though a moral absolute could exist, I don’t believe it would need to be divinely granted to us.

 

21.) If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?

Really only one would be broad enough to qualify: the golden rule.

Now, before I’m jumped on for it, it is not exclusive to Christianity.

It is a part of Buddhism, Existentialism, Taoism, Wicca, etc. and is key part of human empathy. We know what it is like to be hurt, and therefore we know to try not to hurt others, less they hurt us. We like to receive pleasure, and therefore give pleasure so we will receive it.

I will probably write a post about universal versus relative morality in the future, so I won’t explain further here.

But I will state that the ten commandments are an EXTREMELY POOR set of morals, and would most definitely not be any example of a moral absolute.

 

22.) Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?

Yes, although it depends on how you define evil. If we go by the definition of something that is harmful or bad, then it definitely exists. Just take the golden rule and invert it. Do to other what you wouldn’t want done, and there you go.

But I don’t believe there is a cosmic force of evil, just humans acting out of self-interest and selfish gain, although that is over simplifying evil. It’s complicated; too complicated to answer here.

 

23.) If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

By my morals above, both relative and objective ones. He definitely fails via the golden rule, although it’s hard to hold an omnipotent deity to human morals.

But he also contradicts himself. Example: Thou shalt not kill.

I can’t really find anyone who can defend God’s morals well. They just excuse his bad behavior as His plan, which we could never fathom and understand.

That is not a satisfying answer to me, and I can’t understand why anyone else would be satisfied with it either.

 

24.) What would it take for you to believe in God?

Only God knows. 😉

But seriously, even I don’t know what would be enough. Something that passes rigorous testing and verification via the scientific method would do.

In reality, I just wanted to use the picture. :)

For proper method, see the left side. For improper method, see right.

But if God does exist, he’d know what it would take, so he should do it already to cut the doubt out.

You know, if he exists. 😛

 

25.) What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?

See above.

 

26.) Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?

Definitely rational, archaeological maybe (I just can’t imagine what that would be), testable yes, and falsifiable. Also see above

 

27.) Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer? Why?

Neither would be safer. I think this question is trying to play with the whole “atheists are moral-less heathens and therefore atheist society would have no morals” thing.

But would one be fairer/better?

Depends on who is in charge, and their world view. Which, as I stated above, religion is just a small part.

 

28.) Do you believe in free will? (Free will being the ability to make choices without coercion).

See this post. My beliefs are still the same.

 

29.) If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?

Actually, I also have a post about that. Free will could technically still exist, just in a much more limited capacity. Read that post for more on that.

As far as defending the idea, I’m not sure I could. But I still don’t see that fact as evidence of a soul, god, etc.

Free will could just be an illusion or it could exist. Neither of those choices necessitates a god.

 

30.) If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time? If not, why not?

Wow, this question is… interesting, to say the least.

Firstly, I don’t see why the universe expanding has anything to do with evolution.

Secondly, evolution wouldn’t necessarily work that way, and we don’t have any example of a creature with its brain not physically there. Well, except maybe politicians. But, we will assume it could be possible for the sake of argument, and only for the sake of argument.

So, if evolution and biology worked that way, could it possible? With those assumptions and the fact it is impossible to prove a negative, I guess so.

But probable?

Hell no! We have to make the assumptions to even make it possible. We would also have to learn a whole lot more on how the brain, consciousness, the universe, time space, and everything else works. All that knowledge would have to coincide with your hypothesis, which what we already know right now does not.

I only state it is possible because I can’t say it is impossible at the current time.

 

31.) If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?

Ok so I said possible, and in fact highly improbable, but I’ll bite.

By saying yes, I would be admitting there could be, potentially, a deity-like being in (or I guess out) of the universe. But there are a lot of steps between that supposed being and the Judeo-Christian god of the bible.

Plus, what about the other billions of humans? Wouldn’t they have also evolved? Wouldn’t there be billions of deities, not just one? Did they have some massive war, and only the Christian God remained?

If anything, if your premise were true it would prove god like beings, but completely disprove Christianity. God wouldn’t be worth worship, or have a divine plan for us. At best, we’d just be his common ancestor like apes are to us. At worse, we would be some messed up experiment by a divine force playing with us. There would be very little reason to assume he was loving and only looked out for our best interests, aside from hoping that he does.

Not to mention that some Christians would call that idea blasphemy, due to saying humanity could become as omnipotent and omniscient as God. Others would call you LDS.

Those are only some of the problems with your argument. There are many more. It seems like who ever wrote it didn’t have a very good understanding of science, but also loved reading science fiction novels.

This is one of the worst arguments for a god I have ever seen. Seriously. A horrible way to end a list of questions that were decently thought out.

——

 

Well that was fun, and a good way to combat the writer’s block plaguing me.

What are you’re thoughts on this? Leave a comment below, and thanks for reading.

-Shaman

 

 

The Party Never Ends.   2 comments

A wild prompt appears!

When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?

I am right now, and I’m looking for a shovel.

Writer’s block tends to strike quickly and stick around a long time, like a bad relationship. I suffer it for a while, and then eventually I get sick of it and…

Well, I’ve never really figured that part out.

I have no idea how to get rid of writer’s block. Sure, I’ve tried all the tips, tricks, prompts, and pointers. But they never really do the trick. One day, I just get a buzz of ideas in my head again, and then my thoughts take off and I’m back. I haven’t hit that point yer though, and that kind of sucks. Because I was doing really well writing wise for a while, and now its crappy to be stymied.

As for why it happens, I have even less of a clue than my ability to get rid of it. I think this time it is a mix of melencholy, obligation, and life in general. Plus, it doesn’t help I work full time and try to write blog posts in my down time. It is hard to get a good thought going when you have to stop writing every 5 minutes.

Regardless, I’ll take this moment to say sorry for the lack of content lately. I do have a lot that is almost done. Hopefully, I can get motivated enough to finish it all.

Thanks for reading,

-Shaman

Posted 08/06/2014 by Shaman in Daily Prompt

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