A random person, originating in the middle east, recently messaged me on Facebook and asked for my opinion on a webpage featuring Muslim arguments for God's existence. I don't know why they were messaging me. Perhaps they wanted to convince me Allah exists. Perhaps they had doubts about Islam but did not know how to rebut the website. Or perhaps they had some other goal in mind. The webpage features an essay by Zakir Naik (I have since come to learn that Naik's essay appears all over the internet, with a previous response by JT Eberhard, so I am not aware of its original source). As I understand Naik's essay, he offers three arguments for God's existence: (1) that atheists reject the wrong kind of God, (2) that we can infer the Qur'an's divine authorship from the amount of scientific information the Qur'an contains, and (3) while modern science can help us to reject false deities, science should not cause us to reject the one true God. In what follows, I will explicate and then evaluate each argument in turn. Lastly, I will conclude that the three arguments are fairly weak.
However, I want to issue a bit of caution before diving into the arguments. For a variety of reasons, I do not typically respond to Islam. For one, there are others better equipped to do so (former Muslims, progressive reformers in the middle east, or others). I would rather take my lead from them. For another, non-Muslim responses to Islam – whether ...more
I first learned about image descriptions on an intersectional feminist Facebook group. I had never heard or seen them before, so I read up on the subject. Recently, I started incorporating them into my social media posts and my blogs. But after I got familiar with using them and understanding why they're so important, it just became second nature to me.
So if you're not familiar with image descriptions or not aware of why they're needed, read on and think about using them on your Facebook, blogs, and other internet postings.
1. Image descriptions make the internet more inclusive.
There are several reasons why image descriptions are helpful. First of all, some visually impaired people use screen readers to participate in the online world. Screen readers can't pick up images. So if someone posts a photo, a visually impaired person won't know what it is or what the text on it says. Imagine viewing Facebook without images or descriptions. It's an entirely different experience.
Also, not everyone has super fast internet and the ability to load and view all images. Using descriptions helps those that don't have all of the technological advantages. Think about trying to load Facebook on dial up. Just imagine that.
2. They're super fast and easy to do.
When I first started thinking that I should do image descriptions I kept going back to, is this going to be hugely inconvenient? Is this going to take way too much time? Am I not going to be able to post everything I want ...more
CN: Discussion of childhood sexual abuse, Duggar abuse scandal.
Josh Duggar, the eldest son of the Duggar clan, was recently revealed to have repeatedly sexually abused five children. His victims included his siblings and a babysitter. It is alleged that the youngest Duggar to experienced this abuse was five years old. In the firestorm that followed, many people came to Duggar's defense and slung a variety of excuses for both his behavior and the fact that this matter was not handled properly by his parents or the authorities.
As someone that was sexually abused as a child, by another child, I know the futility of this situation all too well. Your story is doubted because you were so young (I was five when it started). Your attacker has excuses made for him because he was young as well, and therefore could not have been fully cognizant at the time. You are told to let it go, forgive and move on, before you even realize or fully comprehend what happened to you and what impact it will have on you. And this is if you are lucky enough to have anyone listen to you at all.
When the Duggar parents announced that the girls had forgiven their brother and just wanted to move on with their lives, I shuddered. The way forgiveness is handled in some forms of Christianity, like a step in a program that everyone is forced through, I wonder just how much the violated girls understand what happened to them and actually do ...more
Nicola Roberts is a singer and songwriter that was discovered at age 17 on the UK television show, Popstars: The Rivals. She became one fifth of the band, Girls Aloud, formed to battle boyband, One True Voice, for the Christmas number 1 in 2002. Girls Aloud became number 1 with their hit, Sound of the Underground, and went on to have a successful, 10-year-long career as a band. After the split, Nicola branched out on her own and released her debut solo album, Cinderella's Eyes. The pop masterpiece included a track entitled Sticks + Stones.
The song is about the bullying that Nicola faced over the accusation that she was ugly. The bridge contains the following lyrics:
Too young to buy my own bottle of vodka
So I'd beg the driver please I need another
How funny that I was too young for so many things
Yet you thought I'd cope with being told I'm ugly
Over and over I'd read it, believe it
Said no to the shrink I can fix me I think
I got friends in my head they've got me on the mend
I am pretty in my mirror, easy to pretend
17 and thought that I'd won the jackpot
Seems I didn't read between the lines of this one
I can't think why I could of made you so, so angry
Your bullets I don't feel them come on and fire at me
Her song and her following advocacy work sparked debate and investigation in the epidemic of ...more
I find it very strange that Catholic family friends and relatives who are in no way okay with my atheism or beliefs in equality for everyone, including The Gays, are so utterly pleased to find out that I've become a Unitarian Universalist (UU). It seems the UU looks like enough of a church to sooth them, even though their concept of a church remains completely different from mine and the reality of what happens at UU.
My atheism remains untouched. I still believe everything that I did before I joined the church, but somehow the fact that it's called a church, I go to a service, and there is a minister seems to assure these people that I've come back to god in some bizarre way I can't fathom. Nothing about me has changed, I just found a community that accepts me as I am and doesn't shun me for the beliefs I had when I walked in the door. Which is not the case when it came to Catholicism, let me assure you.
It seems to me that these people have a set idea about what makes up a church and they can't even conceive of a place that is anything other than what they've thought it was. And, in a way, I can't blame them. If all you know of tea is shitty tea bag tea, when someone offers you loose leaf first-flush tea, you might decline. But there are different things out there. Both tea-wise and church-wise.
My mother has ...more
Tour guide season has just started and I am once again taking school groups around the Historic Triangle (Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, Virginia). At Jamestown, the settlement has their own guides. So my job is to just stay with the group, listen, and be there if anyone needs something. I was a course leader today at Jamestown and the guide for my group was a woman that I worked with at an outlet store about 10 years ago. She didn't recognize me. However, I was 19 at the time, and I have changed a bit, physically, since then. However, I told her who I was and how I knew her and she immediately recalled me. She seemed to remember two things; my love of big chicken salads and the fact that I was raised Catholic.
The school group that I was with was a private Catholic school. She made a point of telling the children that she respected them because of their faith and that she was very devoted in her own. I didn't find that particularly appropriate for a tour guide, but no one asks my opinion on things, so I said nothing. Later in the tour, she asked me if I was still going to the Catholic church that I had attended in 2005. I told her that I did not. She just laughed and winked at me saying, "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic." I tried not to show how annoyed I was and just responded, "Not quite." My ...more
I have faced plenty of heat from my local skeptic community for the fact that I interpret my dreams. Dream interpretation has a huge "woo" sticker stamped on it and I don't think that assessment is really fair. Even if there is nothing to dream interpretation and dreams are just meaningless bits and pieces hobbled together by your subconscious, I don't believe that paying attention to them is in anyway harmful, the same of which cannot be said for real woo. Personally, dream interpretation has made me a more mindful and emotionally aware person and I don't see any reason to stop doing something that has no drawbacks and actively makes me consider my life and interactions more carefully.
Here are all of the reasons why I interpret my dreams and why I don't think that there is any good reason to consider dream interpretation woo or nonsense.
1. We actually have dreams.
Unlike things such as chakras, spirit guides, or ghosts, dreams scientifically do occur. Scientists have done tests and studies on dreams and have discovered that everyone dreams (even when we don't always remember them) and dreams can play an important role in brain development for children. So at it's very basis, the fact that you have dreams, is completely provable and not at all suspect.
2. Science is not entirely sure what dreams mean.
There are still research and studies being done on dreams and dreaming, so it's impossible to say that dreams are complete bunk because we don't have all of the ...more
I recently read a gif-heavy article on the wisdom of Nicki Minaj. I have no real feelings towards Minaj either way, but the title of the article interested me and I wanted to hear what in the world she had to say that was so wise. The article consisted of her making rather cliched uninspired statements about being yourself and doing your own thing. And then, stuffed in the middle of the article was Minaj telling girls to love their bodies. And I paused.
The media pushes body positivity as something that appeals to people and will not hesitate to show contradictory, demeaning advertisements on the next page of a "Love Your Body" article. But when it comes to loving your body and embracing your outer beauty, it seems that far too many of the spokespeople for this movement are conventionally attractive and their beauty is validated by the same media that is trying to deliver this message.
In some ways the ultimate message that is delivered is that you can love your body as long as your body fits certain parameters. With this qualification the entire message falls flat. If loving your body is conditional than it is not a message of loving your body. It's loving the right body.
When I first spoke out about this issue on Facebook I received comments that even the most beautiful women have insecurities and that no matter how attractive someone is, that doesn't always mean that they feel attractive. Which I will absolutely agree ...more
When people talk about a young woman's inner beauty, it's often that she's being praised for subservient feminine behaviors. As far as people want to claim that women have come, over and over and over again, the young women being rewarded for their so-called "beauty" are just acting out the same set of oppressive stereotypes that women have been dealing with all along. Meanwhile, young women are often chastised for behaviors deemed "unladylike" that would never have been questioned if the person expressing them had been male. Overall, when people are praised for their actions, it shouldn't only be for when they fall in line with a gender role.
There are some very clear behaviors that are "beautiful" and deserving of praise. These include, kindness, patience, caring, sacrifice, and silence. While these traits can be wonderful and something worth commenting on, when women are only complimented on these traits and admonished for displaying other traits that are well within the human experience, but not deemed feminine enough, society limits women by their definition of beautiful instead of empowering them with it.
Females fair better in school than boys as they are trained from an early age to be passive and follow directions, even if they are contrary to the individual's wants or needs. When it comes to quietly sitting in place and not disrupting a lesson, girls always come out ahead. But when a girl does something "unfeminine" such as speak her mind or, even worse, do it loudly, this behavior is ...more