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On bridges, lifebelts, and being wrong

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

“There was once an atheist man,” a colleague of mine told me after someone outed my atheism to her. “Who fell into the ocean. And then he called out for Jesus.” She was a nice woman in her mid-life who had probably never met an atheist before. I could tell it shocked her profoundly that such a thing even existed – as if I had suddenly turned into a feral leprechaun before her very eyes. So I hurriedly ended my shift while politely informing her that, in the man’s stead, I would rather have called for a lifebelt.

LifebeltMaybe it’s just because I’m from the Faroe Islands but, in my experience, Christians seem obsessed with falling into the ocean. Another frequently used canard is the good old “If you saw someone falling into the ocean and you knew they couldn’t swim, wouldn’t you do anything to save them?” This is usually the go-to excuse for the “tough love” of the unpleasant and dishonest kind of proselytism and of the forcible injection of religion into education and politics. A variation is the oft-repeated bridge-gambit; “If someone were about to walk onto a bridge, you knew to be unstable, wouldn’t you be justified in saving them from danger by any means?”

The danger is Hell, the rickety bridge is (more…)

Theists, stop being ignorant about meta-ethics!

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

I recently watched the Notre Dame debate between Sam Harris and William Lane Craig entitled ‘Is Good from God?’ I can refute everything Craig said in just three words:

Ideal Observer Theory

Look, theists, if you want to argue that Divine Command Theory farts rainbows and brings orgasms to needy little children, knock yourselves out. But honestly, stop acting as if it were the only coherent meta-ethical theory ever devised in the history of humanity. It doesn’t make you look clever, it makes you look either ignorant or dishonest. Craig must certainly be immorally dishonest, since as a Research Professor of Philosophy he ought to know better.

No, I don’t intend to defend Ideal Observer Theory over Divine Command Theory – though I’ll recommend Michael Martin’s book ‘Atheism, Morality, and Meaning‘ for the interested – and Ideal Observer Theory isn’t even the only theory that fulfils Craig’s criteria of ‘objectivity.’ I don’t even know why we should take seriously Craig’s assertion that ‘If God doesn’t exist there can be no objective morality’ since it basically just boils down to an argument from Craig’s personal incredulity.

However, my point is that philosophical integrity demands that we ought at the very least acknowledge that there are other positions available. We don’t have to accept them. Hell, we can argue vehemently against their veracity. But the least we can do is to not pretend that there is no opposing view; no legitimate disagreement. That’s not philosophy, that’s just plain old propaganda.

For shame!

 

Lyrics Schmyrics: ‘Heartless’ got a new meaning

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

George MichaelLast Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, You gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Tra-la-la special, special. Wait…hold on. Seriously? Look, Mr. Michael I appreciate the sentiment and I can sort of see what you were aiming for in this song, but you need to put that tormented metaphor out of its sordid misery!

I know what giving someone your heart means, you know what it means. Hell, everyone does. But who among us can honestly claim to get a grip on what it means to give Person C the heart you got from Person A? Does this mean that George Michael fell in love with Person A, but that Person A then somehow made George Michael fall in love with Person C instead – possibly with some sort of mystical love-transference ritual? It just doesn’t work as a metaphor.

So what the Hell, George? Did you actually hand someone your physical honest-to-goodness literal heart? Because if that’s the case, you know, I’m sure you can’t possibly blame the person for giving it away the very next day – say, for instance, giving it to a paramedic or a coroner would surely be the right thing to do!

Teenage Mutant Levitating Turtles

Monday, June 29th, 2009
What the fuck?

What the fuck?

Cowabunga, dude! I’m so badass that I don’t even have to touch the ground.

Seriously though, I can accept that Donatello might have found a footstool to pose with for the groupshot or something but what the Hell were the animators thinking when they positioned Leonardo? Invisible Buffalos?

I suppose hovering a few inches above streetlevel for extended periods of time is a very handy ninja-technique though. Shredder won’t see that one coming.

My Two Cents’

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

In actuality it was two pence. And a couple of pounds.

Let me explain.

Loose change is a constant curse in this country. My trousers are sagging around my ankles with the weight of copper in my pockets – baring my arse for the world to see. Yes, I am that rich. Why would I ever need to buy anything with 1p coins? The Queen must have some sinister ulterior motives for turning us all into walking and talking lightning rods. Making use of the resulting conductivity for evil mind-control rays or some su – God Save the Queen!

Ah, where was I? Oh, yes. Loose change. As horrifically annoying it is to (more…)

Fractal Uncertainty

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

evidently makes everything equally valid

by Heini Reinert

Image courtesy of A Tribe Called Möw

The good reverend, Bryan Griem, has been assaulted by a skilful acupuncturist with a vendetta. That is, at least if we are to take his review of Bill Maher’s new film, Religulous, as any reliable indication. If there had been any more knee-jerk reactions therein the man would have been positively river dancing. His stock-portfolio one-size-fits-all apologetics strike me as equally appalling in their condescension and unintentionally hilarious in their consequential absurdity. I would be hard-pressed, however, to care much about the poor, nerve-wrecked padre’s issues with the film. Although, I will say as much; the only way to truly please a theist as a non-believer is to stop being one – or, at the very least, to have the decency to stay ashamed and quiet about it. What concerns me, however, is the absurd view about the nature of knowledge and arrogance in the following excerpt:

Maher vehemently denounced what he deems arrogance on the part of people who speak with any certainty about spiritual matters, but that causes me to ask why Maher’s certainty of everyone else’s ignorance should be preferred. He is certain that nobody else knows anything for certain, but only their certainty is arrogant? Maher has not thought all of his logic through, nor has he done enough homework to get beyond the atheistic canards of the past.

I can just about imagine Rev. Bryan Griem (more…)

Should Homosexuals be allowed to Adopt?

Friday, May 4th, 2007

No child left behind except for those our bigotry won't adopt

Let me come straight off the bat and say that I resent what is inherently implicit in this question. As if it were a valid ethical discussion in the first place. Why are we even debating this? Is there a single valid argument as to why they should not be allowed to enjoy these same rights as everyone else? This question invariably impinges just as grindingly upon my psyche’s Humbug-detector as any question would, were it to question the extent heterosexuals, socialists, ethnic immigrants etc. should be allowed the same. Throughout all the pompous babble of those who would blush with indignation by the mere thought of (more…)

Where is Empathy When Bad Things Happen?

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Links to Dinesh D’Souza’s posts are to be found here:

Where Is Atheism When Bad Things Happen?

D’Souza’s entire blog

Following the April 16 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia a blogger, one Dinesh D’Souza, presented the question of where atheists are when bad things happen. Further claiming that atheists are nowhere to be found in the aftermath of consolidating religious gatherings. As appalled as I am by this, reading through Mr. D’Souza’s subsequent blogs, he seems to be taking rightful indignation as a further indication of the alleged lack of atheistic moral fibre. Very well Mr. D’Souza. I will attempt to “go beyond abuse and shrieking complaints” while still telling you, as respectfully as possible, just why you are a cretin, and a mistaken one at that.

Firstly, you disgust me. This is not meant as abuse. I am merely being honest. Did you ever stop to consider that (more…)

Open Brain-Surgery

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

May I have your attention please, dear readers and/or readettes! This just came in from the cold, cold North, which I like to call ‘home.’

Faroese politicians Torbjørn Jacobsen, Páll á Reynatúgvu, Bill Justinussen, and Jenis av Rana have placed before Faroese parliament, The Law Thing, a proposal, that (more…)

There’s Time to be Wasted

Saturday, December 15th, 2001

Saturday December 15 – 2001

For whatever reason people insist on asking me what time it is. Yes, I do in fact pride myself in wearing a wristwatch at all times. Do I mind telling you what time it is? Oh, goodness no. What would ever give you that idea? I don’t mind at all. That’s what I’m here for. I’m here for your pleasure and disposal, just like a walking, talking clock service, so you can at all times know, how much all the times are. My watch was given to me – as a gift by my mother, actually. And I’m very glad, that I have it. And I can really relate to, and understand, why you ask me instead of turning your head ninety degrees to the left to look at the clock on the wall. I suppose it’s too exhausting.

It’s unbelievable that my watch is more frequently used by other people than it is used by me. I use my watch, like I pee; when I need to. Not as a self-torturing device. The time won’t pass slower, nor will it pass faster, by looking at it every five minutes. That means if you look at it you only make it worse for yourself, no matter which you hope for. But if tormenting yourself really is so important to you, why don’t you simply buy a watch?

The worst case of self-delusiveness I’ve ever experienced happened in school. The teacher was babbling about God knows what. I was sitting on the left of him and this particular subject was sitting on his right side. The girl, strange and bored as she was, signalled me by holding up her left arm while continuously pointing at her wrist. How was I supposed to communicate my oh-so-important secret knowledge to her across the room without interrupting the equally important lesson? I didn’t know what else to do, so I threw my watch at her. Needless to say, the teacher found it just as disturbing to have a watch flying through the air right in front of him as he would if I had shouted at the top of my lungs.

-“Hi, friend. Do you have a clock?”

-“Yeah, so?”

-“Yeah, so what is it?”
-“Well, mine is a little round, silvery, digital thingie with a blue, oval surface.”
-“I know that but what time is it??!!”
-“It’s time to beat you to a bloody brain- and organ mass, if you don’t stop badgering me!”

Inspirations for this rant: Annoying people of the world.