Saturday, April 30, 2016

Vick Fam Japan Earthquake Relief

Please help my family piece our lives back together after the back-to-back devastating Japan quakes and chip in if you can. Any amount helps.

You can click HERE to go to the GoFundMe campaign page if you want to donate.

You can also share this link:

Every little act of kindness helps.

Thank you.

Monday, April 18, 2016

So Hard Not to Make Penis Joke! Sooo Hard!

So, a few years ago I tried to switch my Advocatus Atheist blog over to Word Press. At the time, however, they were messing around with their interface and didn't have easy to use templates they do now. And I didn't want to fiddle around making a full website, I just wanted to blog. So I moved back to blogger. 

I did however leave my Advocatus Atheist blog up and running though. And although it never gets updated, I still receive the odd comment now and again. 

This one though... this one made me smile. For obvious reasons. But I felt the commentor was being sincere, so I gave a genuine answer.


Here's the transcript of question (I know, I know... try not to laugh).

The entire universe "works" like something that has been PROJECTED. Only a thinking mind could make the world the way it is. Once I read in a comment on the internet that we should look at the bodies of men and women, at the way they perfectly match together to understand that a thinking mind created them. I totally agree with this. We just need to keep our eyes open and see... Einstein said that a bit of science brings you away from God, but a lot of science brings you to God.

And here's my response:

Physical laws may appear to be eternally present because we don't understand all the causes for the laws themselves. But the picture is getting filled in by science, not by believing in supernatural things that don't seem to explain anything least of all an actual physical law -- like gravity. That was explained by Isaac Newton. 

As per the rest of your comment, I just have to ask, do you actually believe in Intelligent Design because God made man and woman and because they "perfectly match together"? I assume you mean their anatomy, not their individuality (since personalities rarely ever match perfectly), correct? 

So am I to believe your argument for God and his intelligent design because a penis fits perfectly into a vagina? Really?

Believe what you like. But beliefs are not substitutes for facts. 

Everyone has beliefs. I do too. But would you simply be willing to believe them because I believed in them too?

What if I said to you... I have a belief. I believe that every turtle I see, and or ever have seen, or will see is the exact SAME turtle! Always. No matter what. 

You would say, that's not a sound belief. And you would ask me to prove it! And I'd say, well, all turtles look the same to me, so I believe every turtle is the same turtle.

You might think I'm crazy. But, hey, it's my belief.

I would say to you, obvious it's turtles all the way down, how could it be any other way? And I'd say it's one giant turtle that the world rides on. You can't disprove it, so it must be true.

And since we have evidence of turtles, which all look the same mind you, we can know it's true. 

I think it was Abraham Lincoln said a bit of turtle appreciation was all you needed to know it's turtles, all turtles, and nothing but turtles. We just need to keep our eyes open and see... after all.

Of course, I wouldn't expect you to take my word for it.

So why do you think I should take your word for it?

The short answer is, I don't have to. Because what you believe doesn't matter all that much to me in the same way my beliefs don't matter all that much to you.

Which is why I think it's more important to talk about what we can know and how we can know it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Conversation with my daughter about homosexuality

My daughter constantly surprises me with her open mindedness, compassion, and ability to empathize with others simply by logically deducing things.

She remembers something her pre-school teacher told her over two years ago. In class, they discussed whether it was polite to laugh at a person who had a deformity or didn't have legs. The example was an amputee who was missing their legs.

The teacher said, you don't know why they lost their legs. Maybe they were born without them. Maybe they fought in a war and lost them. But how do you think they'd feel if you started laughing at them?

The children unanimously agreed that they person with no legs would feel bad. Maybe they'd cry. And they all realized it would be really mean to laugh at that person. After all, if they got hurt, and lost their legs, they would feel bad if people laughed at them too.

Flash forward to today (which is actually yesterday). And we're flipping randomly through the television channels and suddenly we stop on one and -- bam! -- two lesbian women are kissing.

My daughter looks at me and I look at her. I had no idea such a scene was going to be on. But she turns to me and says, "Daddy, why are those women kissing each other?"

I said, "Because they love each other."

"Are they gay?" she asked me.

"Yes," I replied.

"That's good!" she chirped.

I raised my eyebrow. Curious as to how she reached that conclusion so quickly, I probed a bit. "Why do you think so?"

"Well, everyone's different!" she exclaims. "Some boys like girls. And some girls like boys. And sometimes girls like girls. And boys like boys."

"That's true," I say.

"Are there lots of gay people?" she asks me.

"Yeah," I inform her. "I suppose there are."

"If there's lots, how come we don't see many?" she asked me in all sincerity.

"Well, because some people are mean to them... and they think being gay is somehow wrong... so they make fun of them or say something to hurt their feelings. So gay people sometimes try to keep their personal lives private."

"That's not right!" she gasps. Growing serious, she informs me, "There's nothing wrong with being gay, Daddy. They're just different! And my teacher said not to laugh at people who are different than us or be mean, because it will hurt their feelings."

She then told me the story about her teacher giving the example of the amputee and not laughing at those with physical deformities.

Needless to say, she is one hundred percent correct. And I am amazed at how well she empathizes with others and how loving she is innately. And I have to think -- if a kid can come to this conclusion on their own, and logically deduce that mistreating others or being unfair to them, being mean, is the same across the board -- then to think otherwise means you had to have been taught it.

Here's the thing. If you think being gay is gross, or wrong, or morally reprehensible, odds are your parents FAILED to teach you how to properly empathize with those who are different than yourself.

If you teach your children that gayness is something to be shameful about, or that it's gross, or wrong, or morally reprehensible then all you have done is teach them how to hate.

And YOU have FAILED to teach them compassion and empathy and how to be loving towards others.

My six year old figured it out on her own. If a six year old can do that, then there's no excuse why a grown adult should ever have a problem with homosexuals and homosexuality. The same goes for the trans community.

If you have any sort of problem with these fine groups of people -- the problem is YOU.

You're the problem.

And it's your problem you need to fix.

Think about that for a moment. Think about how my six year old girl just schooled homophobes and transphobes and anyone whose ever been an asshole towards those different than themselves. If a six year old can best you in ethics and morality, then you should feel ashamed and embarrassed for yourself.

As for those who don't feel ashamed for treating others poorly, well, then you're no better than those assholes who make fun of amputees for simply being amputees. And, personally, I wouldn't want my daughter hanging out with you or your brainwashed-to-hate kids.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

In Response to Joyce

The Imperfect and Immoral Teachings of Jesus Christ was an article I wrote in what, admittedly, was a rather crude attempt to consider some of the character flaws and moral failings of Jesus Chris. Needless to say, the religious scholar Hector Avalos did a much better, and far more thorough, critical analysis of Jesus Christ's moral flaws and failings in his book Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics.

At any rate, having re-read my original article I still stand by my criticism, although I now see that I could have worded it much better -- yet perhaps not any less scathingly. That said, it remains one of my most read and consecutively commented upon articles on Advocatus Atheist and as a new comment popped up in my feed today, I re-read some of the other comments and found one by Joyce Clemmons which I was never able to properly respond to because of the privacy setting wouldn't allow me to write a direct reply.

Having re-read her comments, I wanted to address some of them here, as I think some of her comments -- although well intended -- largely miss the point I was trying to make.

Here's Joyce's comment in full (screencap):

I agree with Joyce's comment that Jesus was basically re-interpreting the 10 commandments. What I disagree with is that he stressed, or heightened the moral responsibility to abide by them.

Although Jesus did say "love your neighbor" and although she is right in saying this is also the reason people, including good Christians, decried slavery saying if you would not want it done unto yourself then don't ask for it as a right -- would put Jesus as implicitly against slavery -- my point was that this assumption is merely a logical progression stemming from our own moral understanding of slavery being bad. 

Someone who didn't think slavery was innately bad, i.e. morally wrong, wouldn't necessarily think to include slavery as something they wouldn't want to be done to themselves. Case in point, if they believed they were destined to be a slave, they may have felt that it was their God-given duty to fulfill their lot in life as a dutiful slave. In other words, slavery to them may have seemed a brute fact of life. There were class systems to consider, wealthy and elite, merchant, beggar, and slave. It would have been a necessary part of their existence to fit into one of these categories. Because that's simply how the world worked back then. History bears this out.

So there is no direct link from the Golden Axiom to the admonishment of slavery since there are ample reasons one who subscribed to Jesus's own moral outlook could still defend slavery.

The fact remains: Jesus not admonishing slavery or making a point to decry the practice appears to be part of the context of his views being largely couched in the historical context of his day. Which is why he appeals to Old Testament law when asked about slavery in Luke, making the implicit statement that he actively supports the practice by NOT decrying it when he had every reason, moral or otherwise, to do so.

And that was the gist of my point. Jesus, if we are to assume him a moral philosopher of any caliber whatsoever, would have to make an explicit statement on the subject decrying it's practice as immoral for us to say -- hey, this guy was a good moral teacher. But this we do not find. Rather, the scriptures give us fine examples of Jesus going along with the practice and even using it in his moral parables without so much as a mention of its immoral and unethical implications.

When Joyce mentions I am against world-wide violence against women. This is true.

The reason Joyce knows this is because I have spoken out against the mistreatment and inequality of women numerous times. I support causes that seek to empower and give women access to education in developing nations. But I think her example backfires. Because whereas I can do little about it without actively leaving my home and going out into the field and fighting the good fight, (ignoring all my other responsibilities as a father of two and as a teacher -- but never mind this triviality), I have made it expressly clear that I detest the abusive treatment and violence against women wherever it is found. 

And I just did it again, here. 

But nowhere does Jesus Christ make it expressly clear that he detests the abusive treatment and violence against slaves or the practice of slavery.

Rather, he admonishes people not to beat their slaves so severely that they lose their teeth or eyes, but again, this is just a reiteration of OT laws which most abiding Jews would already be practicing.

Think about that for a moment.

If somebody asked me what do I think about the abuse of women in any given context, and I merely say, well just follow the law of the land -- wherein that law of the land allows for (or maybe even calls for) the abuse of women, then it cannot be said that I expressly am against the mistreatment and abuse of women. Rather, I'd be for it -- because I support those laws.

Which is why we can deduce that Jesus implicitly supported slavery. 

All this trouble could have simply been cleared up with a single mention that slavery is morally reprehensible, in the same way I have said violence against women is morally reprehensible. Something any wise, and just moral philosopher would have done should he have realized that slavery was morally wrong.

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist