Archive Page 2

Comedy Hour, Conservapedia Style

Today is apparently some sort of ‘Atheist pride’ day, so I shall quickly fulfill my contractual obligations:

I am extremely proud to be an atheist. Well, that’s not entirely true; I don’t see being an atheist as something that one should be ‘proud’ of. But I’m not ashamed of being an atheist, so I guess that’s something.

But instead of engaging in intellectual self-gratification, let’s all celebrate atheism by dissecting a truly miserable example of an attempt at discrediting it. You may be lucky enough to have never visited Conservapedia – if so, keep your unsullied cursor as far away from that vile link as possible. (Should you be using some sort of newfangled touch-screen device, even greater caution is advised.) Those of you who have already been exposed to its toxic influence, however, may safely peruse its decaying ‘Atheism’ series with me.

Conservapedia likes to say that it’s  ‘honest’ and ‘trustworthy’, unlike that hippy-infested other encyclopedia. This is a filthy lie, and everyone involved probably knows it. The Conservapedia editors engage in just about every act of intellectual dishonesty in the book, all of which are present in their Atheism series. Taken as a whole, it resembles a sort of deadly cocktail of stupidity, ignorance and dishonesty the likes of which you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere on the internet. Here’s a brief rundown of its biggest failings.

Accentuating the negative. There are very few movements or ideas that are completely bad. Even the Nazi party, who most people would agree are pretty close to being the living embodiment of pure evil, did some good during their reign. Intellectual honesty demands that one admits this.

The Conservapedia editors apparently disagree, as their main atheism article is almost entirely negative. Nietzche and other ‘unsavoury’ atheists are brought up frequently, and atheists in generally are implied to hold a great many unpopular beliefs. (Beyond the obvious ones, I mean). This habit of accentuating the negative aspects of atheists reaches a ludicrous height with the heading ‘Tenuousness of Atheism in Prominent Atheists’, which cites exactly two examples as evidence: Charsles Darwin and Jean-Paul Sartre. Well, I’m convinced.

The God-damn quote mining. I don’t have to explain what ‘quote-mining’ is, do I? It’s one of the most irritating practices that Creationists engage in (among much else, of course), and you can find examples of it on the less reputable Creationist websites and blogs. Which is to say, 99% of them.

According to Munich theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg “Atheism as a theoretical position is in decline worldwide.”[108] Given that the evolutionary position is a often cited component of the ideology of atheism in the Western world, the gradual loss of public support of the evolutionary position is one of the many factors which are eroding the ideology of atheism. Oxford scholar Alister McGrath cites a number of additional factors in regards to the decline of atheism as an intellectual position.[109] [110]

Given the many factors which are eroding atheism as a intellectual position McGrath states:

…Atheism is in trouble. Its future seems increasingly to lie in the private beliefs of individuals rather than in the great public domain it once regarded as its natural habitat.[111]

This is not how you write an encyclopedia article, you twits.

Conservapedia is pretty much built on the practice of quote mining. Its articles are positively stuffed with quotes, usually taken as authoritative evidence for sweeping generalisations or even for factual statements. (The evolution article is, predictably, the absolute epitomy of this. Horrifyingly, it’s also their current ‘Article of the Year’.) The quotes they use are very obviously picked in order to fit with the general ‘atheism is bad’ theme of tha article, which brings us to the next problem…

It’s biased as hell. Despite Conservapedia’s stated mission, it’s one of the most blatantly biased sites on the internet. The atheism article is not an explanation of what atheism is, it’s an explanation of what atheism is plus endless poorly thought out reasons for believing that atheism is bad. The evolution travesty is the same, except that it doesn’t even include a coherent explanation of the theory.

Perusing Conservapedia’s sources and references reveals an unsurprising bias at work there as well – WorldNetDaily (yes, really), Christian apologetics websites and Creationist books are frequently used, while places where you’re likely to find opposing views seem to be largely ignored.

The writing is terrible. It’s really, really terrible. The first paragraph of the Atheism article is confusingly worded as if it’s the introduction to an essay rather than an encyclopedia article, and most of the headings are laughable. There’s no real order to anything, which is why we’re treated to such diverse and important topics as ‘Atheism and Deception‘ and ‘Anti-Atheism Blogs‘. The Wikipedia article, on the other hand, moves from definitions to common rationale to history, but I guess coherent structure is a hallmark of liberal-commie-homosexual-evolutionists.

I’m sure there’s more, but trawling through the site’s seedier back-alleys is giving me a headache. It’s not all bad, though – I found a book called Refuting Evolution, which is available online for free! Having skimmed some of it, I can heartily recommend it. Not as anything even remotely resembling science education, mind you, but it does serve as an excellent compendium of Creationist stupidity.

If you’ve got any more hilariously awful sites that need to get more attention, let me know in the comments section.

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Celibate Same-Sex Relationships Are Also Sinful, Apparently…

One of the major ‘open secrets’ about the ex-gay movement is that it generally doesn’t ‘turn people straight’, and most ex-gay organisations will admit that truly changing one’s sexual orientation is extremely difficult, if not impossible, in the majority of cases. Generally speaking, ‘change’ amounts to being celibate, attempting to suppress attraction to the same sex and hoping that God eventually decides to make you straight. This might seem like a pretty lonely, unfulfilling life, and I imagine it is for a lot of people. (This may explain why so many ex-gays I’ve spoken to seem incredibly fixated on Jesus or their church, far more so than most ‘ordinary’ Christians.) But what about a relationship that doesn’t involve sex? Surely that would be acceptable?

You’d certainly think so, and if I was a devout Christian I’d probably want to be in this sort of relationship. After all, homosexuality is far more than just physical attraction; gay men and women gain the same sort of emotional fulfillment from same-sex relationships that heterosexuals do from opposite-sex ones, and at the end of the day that’s far more important than having a lot of sex. It is incredibly unreasonable to expect people to refrain from having sex for (potentially) the rest of their lives, and to refrain from engaging in the kinds of long-term relationships that they find most fulfilling, yet that’s exactly what Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, has done:

During lunch, my friend asked my views on “covenant friendships”.  I’d never heard that term, but quickly realized she was referring to sexless committed relationships between members of the same gender.  I immediately called them sinful.  She was shocked.  So was I. Apparently, we don’t share what I consider to be fairly cut and dry biblical position on this issue. So I asked her to give me a first hand account of such a relationship that she saw as healthy.  She went on to share the story of a Christian lesbian who believes that homosexual behavior is sinful, but holds no hope of ever experiencing heterosexuality. The thought of living a single life was too much for her to bear and so she developed a committed non-sexual relationship with another woman. They held a commitment ceremony, bought a house together, combined their finances and are trying to live happily ever after.  They live in separate bedrooms, but in every other sense of the word, they are partners. “What’s wrong with that?” my friend asked. Everything. (Source)

Chambers goes on to say that such ‘covenant friendships’ are against God’s plan for humans and represent a failing on the part of gay Christians to trust in God’s transformative power. Bullshit, I say. Just how much of their lives does he expect his peers to sacrifice? And just what kind of relationships are they allowed to engage in – ordinary friendships and nothing more? Not only can they not have sex, they apparently can’t love anyone unless that person has been vetoed by the Bible. He’s living in a fantasy land, where religious brainwashing can take the place of a genuinely loving relationship. This is an appalling example of how reppressive religion can be, and it presents a very bleak picture indeed for homosexuals who don’t want to abandon their religious beliefs.

It’s a twisted religion indeed that preaches mindless, eternal devotion to any god, but gay Christians suffer worse than the majority. Not only are they expected to fill every need in their lives with God (an utter impossibility), but they’re expected to abstain from the human relationships that heterosexual Christians are encouraged to enjoy. Why? What possible reason could any deity have for such arbitrary cruelty?

And when I say ‘mindless, eternal devotion’, this is what I mean (courtesy of GCMWatch):

C’mon, cut the comedy! “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”. It is MOVING INwith temptation. It’s like a sex addict moving accross the street from a porno shop. Like an alcoholic getting a job in a liquor store. All this is is an attempt to get around the truth of scripture. The sexual realtionship is a side effect of the heart’s intention. The real issue with the LORD is a pure heart and a pure heart wants to please the LORD in every way ;even if there is struggle and pain and disappointment involved. The way is narrow. In the greek the word narrow means “tight”.

This is intellectual slavery, but people like Alam Chambers want to celebrate inequality even among slaves.

Webster’s Dictionary and Wild Conspiracy Theories

Sometimes it can be difficult to look at the internet without thinking that a sizeable fraction of humanity has succumbed to a kind of mass stupidity. Gaze upon the latest atrocity to be committed against the moral majority of America:

One of the nation’s most prominent dictionary companies has resolved the argument over whether the term “marriage” should apply to same-sex duos or be reserved for the institution that has held families together for millennia: by simply writing a new definition.

“I was shocked to see that Merriam-Webster changed their definition of the word ‘marriage,’ a word which has referred exclusively to a contract between a man and a woman for centuries. It has now added same sex,” YouTube user Eric B. noted to WND.

“The 1992 Webster’s Dictionary does not mention same sex at all,” he wrote. (Source)

Why does anybody go to WND for their news? If you had a choice between drinking a glass of water and drinking a glass of sulphuric acid, why would you go for the sulphuric acid?

Anyway.

While it’s entirely possible that this is either a sinister homo-conspiracy or a show of solidarity by whoever decides what ends up in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, I seriously doubt that it’s either. More likely, someone decided to add same-sex marriage to the definition of ‘marriage’ but, despite what the writers at WingNutDaily would have you believe, same-sex marriage exists. As a concept or as an institution (in some places), it exists. The Religious Right might not like the fact that ‘marriage’ does in some places refer to a legally recognised union between two people, or that the idea of such a union is commonly discussed, but that reality (thankfully) does not warp in accordance with their whims.

There will no doubt be many people bemoaning the ‘politicisation of dictionaries’ because of this, yet not including a definition for ‘same-sex marriage’ would be far more political than including it. A dictionary lists definitions, and it should refrain from defining a term just because doing so will make some people angry.

UPDATE: The dictionary people have responded:

“We hear such criticism from all parts of the political spectrum. We’re genuinely sorry when an entry in – or an omission from – one of our dictionaries is found to be offensive or upsetting, but we can’t allow such considerations to deflect us from our primary job as lexicographers.”

…”In recent years, this new sense of ‘marriage’ has appeared frequently and consistently throughout a broad spectrum of carefully edited publications, and is often used in phrases such as ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘gay marriage’ by proponents and opponents alike. Its inclusion was a simple matter of providing our readers with accurate information about all of the word’s current uses,” Stamper wrote. (Source)

Wahey, I was right.

Townhall Strikes Again

Via this blog, yet more stupidity from Townhall:

The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned.

U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the declaration’s French sponsors that the administration wants to be added as a supporter. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on. (Source)

Actually, that’s not bad at all – it’s some extremely good news, reported in a very unbiased manner. Where’s the stupidity, you ask? Predictably, it issues forth in generous quantity from the comments section:

Obama is being the petulant child again, the one deep underneath the arrogant, elitist sneer he wears in public. This time, believeing that the 90% of the public not gay are hay-seed rubes, he spits in the face of our beliefs, signing on to a One-Worlder “declaration” that most American do not support for many valid reasons.

The Second defends the rest

Wow, I don’t even think I can count how many right-wing ‘hot issues’ this one brings up. Liberal elitism, liberal immaturity, ‘One World’ conspiracy theories and a persecution complex? That’s some impressive stuff.

A famous man said that, “A well organized minority can overcome a disorganized majority”. Gays had the APA remove Homosexuality from its list of abnormalities in 1973. Homosexuals are indoctrinating elementary school educators to include homosexuality as a “life style” choice for children. Homosexuals are influencing legislatures, courts, and the entertainment industry. Many innocent people now believe that homosexuality is normal behavior.
Homosexuality is a curable psychological behavior disorder based on male-female identity disorientation. Homosexuals are promiscuous because their sexual desire is not psychologically satisfied: because sex acts performed between two people of the same sex cannot achieve this satisfaction. Therefore, the homosexual is always looking for the next partner to give him the psychological satisfaction that he never finds.

I’d like to think that whoever wrote this one is a world-class anthropologist or sociologist, able to peer into the collective mindset of millions of people and make such sweeping statements with the authority of a meticulous social scientist, but I have a feeling they’re actually just your garden-variety twat.

This last one really confuses me:

WRONG!

Homosexual sex is NOT a basic human right! No, gays shouldn’t be executed or imprisoned for long periods for practicing their perversion, and no it is not right and good to commit violence or discrimination against gays solely because of what they believe and what they do. But to call sodomy a basic human right is absurd. It’s no different from calling adultery a basic human right.

Gays should not be discriminated against unless the fact of being openly gay makes them unable to do their job. (Openly, actively gay clergy, for example, make really bad moral guides, which is the primary job of clergy.) Violence against people because they happen to have gay relationships is deplorable. And the way gays are treated in countries like the Middle East is abhorrant. But treating people with dignity is a far cry from advocating their behavior. This foolishness will probably lead to the UN trying to declare gay marriage as a basic human right that should be recognized within and among all its member states.

It would be pretty awesome if the UN did that. I hope they do.
I’m not sure what this guy is objecting to, though. On one hand he insists that this is wrong because ‘homosexual sex is NOT a basic human right’, but on the other hand he says that homosexual sex shouldn’t be punished and that people should be allowed to do it without legal or judicial consequence.
So…if it’s not a ‘basic’ human, but is some sort of right…what is it? Although, actually, he says that gays shouldn’t be executed or imprisoned for long periods – maybe short periods in prison are fine and dandy.

The Pope Does It Again

My downtime lasted rather longer than I expected, but I’ll try to catch up with things as soon as I can. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), the Pope has put his foot in it again since I last checked my RSS feeds:

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI urged Cameroon’s bishops Wednesday to defend the traditional African family from the dangers of modernity and secularization and to spare the poor from the impact of globalization.

On his first African pilgrimage, Benedict also called it the duty of all Christians – particularly those with political and economic responsibilities – to contribute to the building of a “more just world where everyone can live with dignity.”

[…]

In a briefing to reporters, Lombardi also elaborated on the pope’s comments a day earlier on condom use and the fight against AIDS, which had set off criticism. The pope said that the distribution of condoms is not the answer, and that, “on the contrary, it increases the problem.”

Lombardi noted the pope was expressing a long-standing Vatican position. He said Benedict wanted to stress that a reliance on condoms distracted from the need for proper education in sexual conduct. (Source)

Using condoms is proper sexual conduct. HIV and AIDS are killing people in parts of Africa at genuinely terrifying rates, but it’s not going to stop people having sex. That’s the fundamental problem that the Vatican seems incapable of accepting – pronouncements from the Bible are not going to stop people having sex, the spread of disease is not going to stop people having sex, and a pompous, ignorant man in a white robe is certainly not going to stop people having sex. Yes, it would be wonderful if everyone could match up with an uninfected partner and never engage in risky behaviour with anyone else, but that just doesn’t happen. The Pope is in a position to speak to millions of people, and he uses that power to give advice that is grounded in neither reality nor scientific evidence. And people continue to die.

The most frightening thing about all of this is that the Catholic Church no doubt believes – genuinely, truly believes – that it’s helping people. That doesn’t make this stupidity any more excusable, only more tragic.

Hyper-Patriotic Witch Is Becoming Less Popular

Or so I hope, anyway; apparently, sales of her god-awful books have slowed down recently.

(CNN) — Is Ann Coulter losing her mojo when it comes to selling books?

The conservative commentator, whose previous tomes have flown of the bookshelves, isn’t having quite as good luck with her latest hardback, “Guilty: Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America.”

According to Portfolio Magazine, just over 100,000 copies of the book have sold during its two months on the market. While that number far surpasses most politically themed books, its sales to date rank far below those of other Coulter polemics. (Source)

The fact that Coulter’s books have been in any way popular, anywhere, at any time, is deeply, deeply disturbing – and this is coming from someone who actually attempted to read Godless. I’m still scarred from the experience.

Another One for the Idiot Files

I’ve said before that anyone who uses the ‘Atheists actually believe in God!’ argument is an idiot, something which most atheists would agree with me on. Well, today I’ve got someone else for the idiot files:

So, people don’t really need to be convinced through science of the existence of God. Anti-theists wouldn’t accept it anyway. The real issue is one of trying to push God away. Incidentally, in case you are a Christian reading this smugly, chapter 2 of Romans is for you. It says that if you know what God wants you to do and conveniently push it to the side, then you are no different. I suspect many have dismissed the truth about God because of churchgoers who push the truth away from themselves and do whatever enters their mind. The bottom line is this; we all need God and we all need to quit suppressing the truth. Lets face the music, and acknowledge that our natural desire to do our own thing. While we call doing our own thing “freedom”, it is anything but. We become slaves of our own desires and we only want more and more. Th law of diminishing returns requires it. Christ can fulfill that hunger. It is ours for the asking.

Conratulations, Doug Wildman, for turning Christian apologetics on its back and displaying its rotted underbelly for all the world to see.

What I really don’t get about people like this is that there are much better arguments for God out there. It’s true, I’ve studied them! All right, they’re not necessarily fantastic themselves, but at the very least they aren’t so embarrassingly stupid. I’m guessing this one wins out so often because of the ‘warm and fuzzy’ factor.