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I don't know how well this blog is going to go over, and I probably haven't thought this completely through, but I am posting it anyway. I have to get this off my mind, and I am sure just the idea of what I am suggesting will infuriate a few out there, but hopefully if read all the way through, I make sense, just not articulated well. This all began earlier this week when a friend of mine, our very own Brother Jeff, was being persistently pursued about the concept of Hell, and the need to open his mind to the possiblity because of NDE experiences that incorporated the fiery land of sulfur. These experiences should be considered as proof of the reality was essentially what the poster was insisting on. Further than that, he even made the assumption that Jeff is far too involved with atheist acquaintances, which might be why he doesn't believe in the concept at all. Atheist friends like myself. While this commentator's blame laying on atheists for being part of the main reason Jeff had left behind religious belief (see what I did there?) and lava filled oceans was flattering, his accusations were at best desperation. Even more desperate? He was hell bent on convincing Jeff to at least just visit a particular website called http://www.hellisreal.net, because the internet must only have accurate information and evidence. As is typical of such proselyting tactics, when Jeff remained unfazed and determined in his views, the poster went the last desperate step in argumentation. Desperate equates to fallacious, of course. "What about all of the Islamic terror and political bias? You aren't being fair in your slander." This type of tu quoque argumentation is a favorite of mine to read. It's classic avoidance by meeting criticism with criticism instead of actually answering to the charges. And it's an easy one to fall into. Meeting criticism with much of the same is a great way to avoid talking about topics you are hard pressed to defend rationally. Ironically, his accusation that my friend only feels comfortable criticizing Christianity brings up an interesting perspective about showing preference. First, I think it is plainly obvious why one often focuses on the majority religion in their communities. The majority religion has the largest impact on day to day life, upbringing, and political ideology. Christian extremism has affected my life 99.9% of the time. I am in a country that truly believes that the Christian god is personally blessing our nation in particular, every day. (C'mon, share the wealth with livable wages then, right?) Islam? Hasn't played a significant role in my day to day life until the last decade, and even then the footprint is minor, but somewhat significant in my relationship with our nation's evolving obsession with Christian culture and rules in our everyday society and government. Now, when I read interactions like that of Jeff and a religious commentator and the accusation of sympathizing with terrorists for not equally criticizing Islam, I start to bristle at the absolute ridiculous comparison. Are there terrorists who are Muslim? Absolutely, I won't deny it or defend it. As this commentator should acknowledge there are Christian terrorists today. The Identity movement, evangelical pastors convincing African nations to pass "kill the gays" legislation. Potential vice presidents of our nation wanting to jail gays for even applying for a marriage license. Every group has extremists, but the ones that have truly influenced your life are likely the ones you will focus on. And that is okay. Lack of focus on other religious extremists isn't a denial of what they have done. If one cannot relate to the substance of particular sects of violent ideology, why is one obligated to give it equal air time? Personally, extreme political cults like ISIS and Al Qaeda have had an unusual positive impact on my perception of the world, and influence of belief within politics. I could actually send a thank you note for the awareness their extremism has introduced into my once clearly biased attitudes. My bias had always allowed me to minimize the damage our country's majority Christian outlook has wrought against those who wouldn't conform. But no longer. Children killed in the name of teaching Syrian parents they must follow ISIS. Children killed by their own mothers in America because they were not following God's laws. Muslim children being denied vaccinations because it was considered worldly and an affront to Allah. Christian children denied vaccinations because God supposedly condemns worldly intervention over divine providence. Gay Muslim men thrown from rooftops in Iraq for their sexuality. Then I remembered having read about James Byrd Jr.'s dragging death in Jasper, Texas for being gay. He was drug to death by Christian white supremacists. I listened to Muslim clerics explain to fathers in Afghanistan that their women and daughters should not go in public without a family member, or they would invite sexual assault and be permanently dishonored. I watch Christian fathers in our country tearfully accept their daughters' promises of virginal purity until marriage because these young girls' sexuality belongs to their fathers. I cried as Boko Haram handed out school girls as sex slaves, and I cried as my Christian politicians condemned abortion in cases of rape because babies are gifts from God, regardless of how conception occurred. Up until the daily news casts started sharing with me the extreme imposition of theocratic policies in extreme Islamic belief, I was able to rationalize that we could be a lot worse here in America, and that it wasn't so bad. And it is true, we could be a lot worse, but there is so much we suffer under today that is outrageously unconstitutional and is still permitted because we are a supposedly "Christian Nation" even though our Constitution tells us otherwise. When I had a daily visual to compare our own nation's attitudes and practices against? I realized we put up with a lot of unfair demands for conformity or face retribution on many unimaginable levels. While it is very true that extreme Christian acts of violence like mothers and fathers murdering their families are met with judicial justice head on, we still allow deprivation of legitimate education, deprivation of necessary medical care, and theocratic conspired laws to force submission in matters of family law and women's autonomy. If it weren't for extreme groups like ISIS, Osama Bin Laden, or the Taliban, I don't know if I ever would have seen the horrifying depths we have allowed Christian extremists to dive to in the name of belief. I hear all these arguments that we are allowing too many special exceptions for Islam, and that we are inviting extreme views and practices from Muslims to start taking root. All I can say is that in order to prevent extremists, you have to enforce the boundaries of church and state. By already allowing blatant preference for Christian agendas on every level of federal, state, and even local government, you have already set the precedent for other extreme religious ideologies to have their fair place too. So at the end of the day, maybe Jeff's persistent cheerleader for Christ might take his own advice and pay more attention to the similarities between his belief system and that of every day Muslims. He ought to be grateful that the majority doesn't act as depraved as the extremist minorities in either version of God. Most importantly, maybe he ought to hold the same standard against his personal belief as he does Islam and see how the two ultimately are similar in goals, and even methods, in order to secure authority in community.
Going to be a fun night on political issues. The esteemed Alan M. Gold, funny man Joe Dixon, and my opinionated self will be having a discussion of the 2016 elections, issues surrounding it, and how we see the impact of the years to come with a new president from our current selection of terrible options. Catch it tonight!
My eldest son and I were making the daily commute to school this past week, and we ended up on the discussion of extending human life to hundreds of years. He’d overheard a news article about slowing down the aging process, which got him thinking. Naturally, I’m somewhat against extending human aging. I think if we don’t die out in a reasonable time frame, society will stagnate. The younger generations keep human society always moving forward to bigger and better advancements. I was explaining this to my son, and he almost immediately realized another downside to extending one’s life span. What would be the cut off? And how would that be decided? Further than all that, I pointed out not only how would a limit to age be set, but is it really a good thing to live two hundred years? Does a longer life span mean one will find success and wealth? Or just an extra one hundred and fifty years of working in a gas station instead of forty? The realization that an individual with an extended life time could possibly spend three times longer in a dead-end job was staggering to my son. But I wasn’t done with that thought. Surely, gaining an extra hundred years would mean that eventually, humans would be forced to re prioritize their life goals simply because they possess more time to work on them. Would we humans then take more time for education? Or would many of us continue to follow our instincts of creating families and working our extra time away? And we never jumped into how much more social program would be needed. Instead we moved on to other good subject matter involving PS4s and Steam games. After I dropped him off to his school, I went back to the social risks involved with the extension of human life. For a brief few seconds I found myself justifying selective extension if the individual was an asset to society. I’d fallen into the murky pit of eugenics. For those who aren’t familiar, eugenics is often defined as a controlled and purposeful evolution of human races by controlled breeding practices. In today’s day and age, this is being considered (and experimented upon) on the genetic level. World War II saw the horrors of eugenics gone wrong after hoping for a more perfect German race. Extermination of millions of Jews, homosexuals, and more, all in the name of advancing the German gene pool. But Germany didn’t get this idea on their own. In fact, they had a role model that was already doing another form of eugenics that later would eventually bring about Germany’s defeat. Yes, America. There was a mandatory sterilization policy for the disabled here in the United States that started in the 1930’s, and lasted until the end of World War II. One could say that the Nazis took a page from the land of the free and went a whole step further, all thanks to our own eugenics programs we had already implemented. On top of these practices gone wrong, you can see a type of spiritual eugenics within many religious families, and even in biblical doctrine during this time, but it wasn’t dominating in society yet. I found it a rather disturbing realization that there is a weird belief of a family line being stronger through mutual religious faith. This started to really take hold after World War II when many churches began abandoning some of their support for sterilization and other .....Read more here at my new blog The Bluegrass Skeptic... http://thebluegrassskeptic.com/2015/05/15/spiritual-eugenics-is-really-a-thing-2/.
Edited because I did a shite job at writing it the first time: Many of us who have been subject to the fanciful hopes and malicious hate of the religious world enjoy many conversations where we describe what we would like to do the church we once belonged to or how we would like to turn the tables on those pesky Jehova's Witnesses knocking at our doors at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning with the intention of getting us interested in gawd again. Those conversations are always so satisfying and enjoyable. There is little doubt in our minds that these are long overdue consequences of the bullying we have tolerated throughout many eras of mankind's existence. And on this, I can usually agree, though my rational mind tells me that not everyone under the religious umbrella deserves a good thumping. In all honesty, they do not all deserve it. I will be the first to admit that I agree if you are ascribed to a certain belief sect, then, like it or not, you are representative of all it encompasses. Good and bad. I, like many others, refuse to acknowledge as Christian those who decide to pick and choose what they want to believe out of the Bible. Treating it like it is a "Make it your way" Burger King menu. But, you will not see me fantasizing about torturing a Christian who believes in a deity who supports their pastor NOT using political commentary in their sermons. You won't see me planning a thought out public humiliation of a Muslim who uses their better judgement and decides that while he/she may not like it, homosexuals should not be discriminated against. When deciding how you want to torture religious believers for millenniums of abuse, there are factors to consider. And while some may not understand this idea, I have to say the consideration of torture fantasies should not necessarily apply to this "God" of theirs as well. So, let's dig in here by starting with the age old question many atheists are asking amongst each other or by religious believers: What would you do to God if you had his powers? Now, I hear this question all the time. In fact, already for the second time this week when I came across a newer forum posting on the same subject. These questions never fail to inspire, but on what level of logic or even rational thinking are these inspirations based? I would argue that you cannot even ask this question hypothetically. At the very least, you are going to have to become extremely detailed about the parameters of this exercise before opening the room for contributions. Here is why. First of all, the question in and of itself is pretty much a false start. Which idol are we discussing, and which version? Usually it is in regards to the Bible, but even that version of a god has many different and conflicting accounts. AND that leads to my second reason why you cannot necessarily punish a hypothetical savior of the Bible. Despite the theoretical conditions of which version of God it is, you still have the issue with your source for this deity: The Bible. This is the main and pretty much only reason why I do not fantasize about punishing this biblical being in the most horrendous ways possible. The Bible cannot be used as a basis for any question we ask in regards to the legitimacy of who or what a god is. EVER. Not even in hypothetical questioning. Why? Pretty simple. The religious are not allowed to use their holy books as evidence, so how in the hell can you justify positing any type of question about this deity based on a book that we refuse to accept as evidence of anything factual? Hypothetically, I cannot justify torturing a being that I do not know for a fact did anything wrong. I have no basis for my justification of such punishment beyond the Bible, and that source should obviously be off limits.