Monthly Archives: January 2015

depression

Executive Function Impairment

I have been trying to write about Executive Functioning impairment and depression for a few days now with no success. read more »

depression

Executive Function Impairment

I have been trying to write about Executive Functioning impairment and depression for a few days now with no success. read more »

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Girls Count. Girls Matter.

 

I recently read a pretty good piece from Thought Catalog titled Girls Don’t Count. It inspired me to write about my own experiences with this subject.

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Secular Women Work Conference

I’m pleased to have been asked to help boost the visibility of a new conference to take place August 21-23 in Minneapolis, MN entitled “Secular Women Work”. The conference is organized by Chelsea Du Fresne, Monette Richards, and Stephanie Zvan and they have a kickstarter located here. Here’s how they describe their event:

We are proud to introduce the Secular Women Work conference, a conference by and for activists. Do you want to build strong non-religious communities? Do you want to change our laws and our culture to be more accepting and accommodating of non-believers? Join us in Minneapolis in August 2015.

We live in a society in which unpaid work disproportionately falls to women. Unfortunately, this means that volunteer work, including activist work, is too often undervalued. We’re here to change that.

The Secular Women Work conference is a celebration of the work of female activists who create and run projects and communities in the secular movement. And there is no better way to honor their work than by using their expertise to help us all become better activists.

At Secular Women Work, you will find workshops: both hands-on exercises to develop your skills and facilitated group discussions where you can share challenges and solutions with other activists. You will find panels on specialist topics, with panelists who can help you broaden the horizons of your activism. And when you’re ready for a rest, you’ll find speakers who will entertain and inspire you with stories and lessons from their own work. In between it all, you’ll find a conference full of other activists who want to make a difference in the world.

All workshop leaders, all panelists, and all speakers will be experienced female or genderqueer activists with demonstrated accomplishments and skills to share. We are excited to announce that Lauren Lane, co-founder of Skepticon; Mandisa Thomas, president and founder of Black Nonbelievers, Inc., and Desiree Schell, labor activist and host of Science for the People will be appearing at Secular Women Work. We are working now to add more speakers, so keep your eye on this space for announcements.

The conference will be held in the historic Humphrey Conference Center on the University of Minnesota’s West Bank. The center is ADA compliant and situated on light rail.

So, come join us this August 21st through the 23rd for the Secular Women Work conference, and help support the women who work to make these communities happen! Make your pledge now to secure your ticket to the conference, or pledge to build a better movement by helping us make more, and more effective, activists.

See you there!

The Secular Women Work conference is a joint project of Minnesota Atheists; Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists; and Secular Woman.

If you’re looking for more information, here are a variety of places to check out:

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Did Derren Brown Demonstrate How To Convert an Atheist?

The following video provides a fascinating discussion of contemporary psychology of religion. I’m not an expert in psychology of religion, but based on the reading that I have done, the presentation seems to be fairly accurate.

Unlike other presentations of this subject, Brown claims to demonstrate how to use psychological manipulation to cause an atheist to have a religious experience. Religious apologists take note.

However, Brown is a magician who is known to mix half truths with various tricks. Did he actually cause an atheist to have a religious experience? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Shows I Like

Legend of Korra

Every post is going to start with my apologizing for not writing anything…so sorry. Last week I fell to the communists, which means lots of me writhing in pain and misery and my depression being ten times worse. read more »

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Is there a difference between democrats and republicans?

I recently witnessed someone make the mistake to tell Ed Brayton that there is no difference between democrats and republicans. Here was his response (which I think is spot on):

[…] frankly, that claim is total bullshit. When it comes to issues where a moneyed interest has a lot at stake, they’re pretty similar. Big business is going to get 100% of what it wants from Republicans and 90% of what it wants from Democrats (because they’re able to buy off both parties with unlimited campaign and lobbying spending). But where there isn’t a lot of money at stake, on issues involving equality and social justice, there’s a HUGE difference. If Democrats had been in charge of the House and state legislatures since 2010 instead of Republicans, we wouldn’t have mandatory ultrasound laws and abortion clinics shutting down all over the country. We wouldn’t have laws banning same-sex marriage and bills to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to ban it at the federal level. With fewer Republican appointees to the Supreme Court, we wouldn’t have decisions like Hobby Lobby or Citizens United. We wouldn’t have people in charge of science committees who say things like, ‘Global warming is a hoax because God said he wouldn’t destroy the earth again after the flood.’ So no, the two parties are not the same and they’re not equally bad.

While others pointed out — legitimately — on the same thread that American foreign policy, under both Democrats and Republicans, has been fairly appalling, it was also pointed out — correctly, I think — that it is exceedingly rare to see a person from a disenfranchised group (LGBTQA individuals, people of color, etc) claim an equivalence between democrats and republicans. One of the two groups hurts folks at both home and abroad; the other tends to only hurt people abroad.

Is this an accurate way of seeing the differences between the two parties? Let me know your opinion in the comments section below.

#trollkitty

Cat Hides Face

I was supposed to write something yesterday, but I accidentally left my laptop at my mom’s work, then I was too tired to figure out how to do it on my tablet when I got home. I have about five different ideas for posts floating around in my head right now, but I’ve barely had the energy to eat today let alone write anything. It seems that merely existing is exhausting for me. So today you get a series of pictures of Starbuck hiding his face.

Enjoy!
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Atheist Movement Philosophy

Bad Atheism: Part One

I am calling this ongoing series “Bad Atheism” because it is simple, provocative, and because I am too lazy to think of different titles for every post I am going to make on what I see as wrong with modern atheist thinking. “Part X” is just so much simpler. Additionally, in case anyone was wondering, I have no clue about how long this series will be going, or all the different things I will write about. I just wanted a nice catch-all for any potential topic I may get inspired to write about.

I really dislike the common “lack of belief” definition of atheism. You hear it all the time, and it usually goes something like this, “atheism is not a belief, it is a lack of belief in God or gods.” There are a few different things I find annoying about this definition, and here I will attempt to list them.

First though, a preliminary note: the definitions of words are not set in stone. There is no great dictionary-in-the-sky that makes some words only have a certain definition or definitions. So, herein I am not trying to argue for the “correct” definition of atheism, and likewise, I do not take any “but this is THE definition of atheism” argument seriously. Even if someone points out the whole, “atheism is a-theism, the a- means without, therefore, it is simply without theism” breakdown of the word itself, I do not find that convincing, as we go against what a word, when broken down, literally means all the time. For instance, when sportscasters speak of a team “decimating” another team, they are speaking of them really beating the other team, not literally killing 1/10th of the players on the other team. Long story short, arguments about definitions of words should be about what definitions will be more useful and/or meaningful than other ones, not just saying there is A definition that we have to follow.

With that out of the way, I want to briefly sketch out what I find annoying about the “lack of belief” definition of atheism. Among the reasons that I can think of at the top of my head, here are some which I will deal with in order:

  • The definition is psychologically untenable for the most part for adult humans
  • The definition makes the atheist “position” no different from a cat’s or a rock’s
  • We do not normally define ourselves by mere lack of a belief in something
  • I suspect that there is a dishonest motive behind the definition, to dodge atheism’s “burden of proof”

The “lack of belief” definition is psychologically untenable because it really doesn’t match how human minds work. After we have heard a claim X, we cannot then just lack a belief about that claim X. Sure, we can lack a belief that claim X is true, but we still possess some belief about X. That belief does not necessarily have to be “I believe that X is not true”, but at the very least it is, “I believe that claim X has insufficient evidence to justify me believing that it is true”. We may not explicitly hold those beliefs, but surely, we do not just have a vacuum in our minds about subjects we have heard before, especially when it is a claim as ubiquitous as God claims.

The “lack of belief” definition makes the atheist “position” no different from a cat’s or rock’s because they too lack positive belief in a God. Now, should we actually label them as atheists? That would seem silly, wouldn’t it? That is because there is more going on then simply lacking belief in God claims. For humans, they can be labeled atheists, as opposed to rocks, because humans have minds to process God claims. But if that is the case, if the fact that we have minds matter, then the way our minds really work in regards to claims we have heard also matters, so lack of belief doesn’t really work any more.

We do not normally define ourselves by our mere lack of belief in a claim. We do not go about calling ourselves “aunicornists” or “a-9/11conspiracytheory-ists” or stuff like that. So obviously, mere not believing in a claim doesn’t make a label we normally use. Rather, if we do use the word atheist to signify not believing in God claims it is because our culture somewhat imposes that belief on us, so we set up the word “atheist” in opposition to that. If there were a culture pushing belief in the tooth fairy all the time, we may need a word to define our not believing in that claim. That is because it is the cultural situation and our opposition to it that matters, not the mere lack of belief in something.

I suspect that there is a dishonest motive behind the definition, to dodge atheism’s “burden of proof.” It seems to me that in defining atheism as simply “lacking belief” in God claims, that people are trying to set up atheism as a non-position, and as such, requiring no justification. To them, it is all on the theist, the only person making a claim to them, to meet a burden of proof. Well that seems convenient, doesn’t it? It seems too good to be true because it is. As I pointed out in the first point, we do not just lack a position about a claim we have heard, especially one like God-claims. Additionally, most atheists or other scientifically minded people will not accept just lacking belief in something as reasonable.

For instance, would we accept a climate change denier’s mere lack of being convinced by the science? Of course not! We would say that they SHOULD be convinced by the scientific evidence, if they were being reasonable about it. They cannot just throw up their hands and say something like their position is just lacking belief that climate change is real, and that is all they have to do, that the burden of proof is all on the scientists, and they have failed to meet it. If that approach were at all reasonable, anyone could deny anything and just say someone has failed to meet their burden. The fact is that the climate scientists have met their burden, and as such, any person who denies that is actually being unreasonable. They cannot just hide behind “lack of belief” climate denial anymore, because that so-called “lack of belief” is unreasonable. If they want their claim that the climate scientists have failed to meet their burden of proof to be taken seriously, they have to give reasons why the climate scientists have failed to meet their burden. That is because that is a positive claim that someone is making, that the other side has failed to meet their burden, and as such, it begs justification.

So at best what we have is a weak claim like, “theists have failed to meet their burden of proof in regards to God” but then notice that it is now on the atheist to give reasons why that claim is true. They cannot just assert it and expect people to take their claim “on faith”. Speaking of faith, maybe that will be my next topic, if I feel up to it.

What do you think? Think I am on to something, or that I am dead wrong?

Also, this is a relevant post by William Lane Craig on the topic: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/definition-of-atheism

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A Clarification About My Blogging Intentions

I suppose this sort of thing should go without saying, as I alluded to it in my introduction post, but some recent events have called into question just how obvious it is. I fully intend to write about social justice issues, especially how they are relevant to the modern atheist movements. I don’t intend to do so because I am some sort of great expert on the topic, or because I have some great original ideas to put forth, but rather as a means to let out ideas that I have that I would normally keep inside. This blog is just as much a means for me to just vent as it is for me to do real writing that I intend to help others with.

Now, I don’t want to write about social justice issues exclusively, as I have more varied interests than just that, but yeah, I am not going to stop doing that either. If anyone reading my stuff about social justice thinks I am wrong, feel free to comment about it. Unless the comment is over-the-line in some aspect(abusive, threatening, propagating racism/sexism/ableism, etc), I will not squelch it, and will attempt to respond to it reasonably. Perhaps through reasonable discourse one of us can be convinced of the other’s position, or at the very least we can learn something.

 

Thanks!