Thursday, June 27, 2013

DOMA, Prop 8, and various rants about the decision

So most people probably know the news about one of the key parts of DOMA being overturned, giving married gay couples federal benefits. Also the courts refusal to rule on prop 8, making my new home state of California the thirteenth state to legalize gay marriage.

Not all of DOMA was overturned, of course, only the part that bared the federal government from recognizing the unions, so I can’t say the job is done. Yet, while I join gay rights advocates throughout this country in celebration of this victory some people were not so happy. 

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League suggests an amendment to the U.S. the constitution banning same sex relationships, undeterred, it seems, by the miniscule chance of ever getting a two-thirds majority in either the senate or the house to make such a thing a reality.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee and the Dan T. Cathy owner of Chick-fil-A expressed their displeasure. Though Mr. Cathy deleted his post shortly afterword's.

Tony Perkins had this to say:

While we are disappointed in the Supreme Court's decision to strike down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court today did not impose the sweeping nationwide redefinition of natural marriage that was sought. Time is not on the side of those seeking to create same-sex 'marriage.'  As the American people are given time to experience the actual consequences of redefining marriage, the public debate and opposition to the redefinition of natural marriage will undoubtedly intensify.

In a sense I actually agree with him. As American’s realize that the negative consequences of redefining marriage are little to nothing and everything is fine public opposition to people like Tony Perkins will intensify. His statement honestly seems like nothing more than a rationalization. Support for gay marriage has been improving, and the biggest divide is over age not politics. 73 percent of those under 30 support gay marriage compared to 53 percent of the general population so in all likelihood those as time passes fewer and fewer people will support his cause, and unless Perkins is totally ignorant he knows it.

I found justice Scalia’s criticism particularly interesting. He descents by saying this:

But the Court has cheated both sides, robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better. I dissent.

This is strange to me, does Scalia really think that gay rights advocates did not work hard for this victory just because it was won in a court case instead of in congress? Does he really think that most of the those against gay marriage would gracefully accept defeat if it came from congress instead of the supreme court? Since I was once a fundamentalist I have the odd distinction of having been on both sides of the debate, and his dissent makes no sense to me.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A couple of thoughts on the voting rights act decision

By now most of you have probably heard about the Supreme court’s decision to overturn section 5 of the voting rights act which required nine states with a history of racial discrimination to obtain federal permission to change voting rules.

The justices seemed to believe such a law was not necessary anymore because the problem of voting equality had been fixed. It seems odd to me that the justices did not seem to understand that one of the reasons it had been fixed was the voting rights act itself. The law had not become obsolete in my opinion. The evidence of this is that just two hours after the ruling Texas, one of the nine states that had been affected by the voting rights act, began advancing bills for voter ID restrictions and redistricting that had been blocked just last year by a justice department ruling.

Two Hours After The Supreme Court Gutted The Voting Rights Act, Texas AG Suppresses Minority Voters

In any case, rather than rehash the details, which are already on thousands of news outlets, I wanted to delve into two of the most common defenses I have been hearing for this decision, and, of course, why I disagree with them.

1. The states rights argument.

This argument is basically saying that the law never should have existed in the first place because the constitution does not give the federal government the right to regulate a states voting laws. You see, the state has that power, and if they abuse it by disenfranchising the parts of the population they don’t like then the rest of the country can do nothing but shrug its collective shoulders and accept it. It is first important to note that the justices do not offer this as a reason for overturning it, the majority decision seems to acknowledge that the law served a valuable purpose in the past.

To understand why I reject this reasoning let us first talk a bit about the idea of states rights. In theory I’m a supporter of the concept. The reason is because I think, when applied properly, it gives more rights to the individual. How, you ask? It’s simple statistics. If the whole country votes on a law then I am one voice in roughly 300 million, but if that same law is decided by the state then I am one voice out of whatever the population of that state, certainty a smaller number. It is also easier to advocate for causes in our political system when some changes are left to smaller groups than the entire federal government. Further, It is often the case that the federal government is controlled by larger business because they have the capital to lobby for their interests; so placing more power at the state and local level can also, in theory, give citizens without 7 figure incomes a larger voice in the political process.

The point is that states rights is suppose to be a concept that gives the individual more power, but in this case it is clearly not being used for that. Instead states rights is just being used as a clever guise to interrupt the political process and disempowering certain individuals. If it a question of obeying the letter of the law or the spirit of it, I know where I stand. States rights cease to be something I care about the moment when the concept is used to take our rights away instead of give them to us.

2. All the people who disagree with this are really racist since they think voter ID laws will disproportionally effect minorities.

Basically the argument states that when people point out these laws will have a disproportionate affect are certain minority groups that they are being racist because they are suggesting that these minorities are either too lazy or unintelligent to get a I.D., or are perhaps illegal.

This argument, in addition to being an ad hominem, and an example of the “I know you are but what am I” defense, has several problems. In the first place it is a bit of a red herring, because voter ID laws are only a part of the problem. Redistricting was included in the section 5 rules and was quite often just as big a problem as voter ID laws. Using demographics from the census it is possible to redraw districts in such a way as to prevent any minority group from having enough population in any one district to have a say in their local politics.

Second, it is not racist to point out something that is demonstrated to be reality. Studies have, in fact, shown that certain types of voter ID laws will disproportionally effect minorities.

Voter ID Laws Could Disenfranchise 1 Million Young Minority Voters: Study

This is science, it’s not racist to employ science in your understanding of a topic. Indeed it would be intellectually cowardly to ignore this evidence just because we fear that someone might mistake scientific inquiry with racism. Furthermore, no one involved in gathering these figures has, to my knowledge, said that the reason for these numbers has anything to do with minorities being lazy or uneducated or anything like that. In fact, as far as I can tell, no reason is given because there are no studies done to investigate that and thus there is no current evidence as to the cause. To wit, to claim the cause for these figures is laziness or a lack of education based on the current evidence would be not only racist, it would be intellectually lazy and scientifically unsupportable. Which is, of course, why no one is saying that.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The myth of Christian persecution

persecutedI have had a number of conversations with theists in the last couple of months who, at some point in the conversation, brought up the notion of Christian persecution. Now, in this case I’m not talking about historical persecution, or persecution of Christians in other countries, both of which are real, though occasionally exaggerated by some believers. No, in this case I’m talking about Christians who claim they are being persecuted right here in the U.S. for their beliefs.

Now, while I ultimately conclude that there is no real persecution of Christians in this country, I do want to treat the idea fairly. I want to acknowledge how the idea, though false, can, at least to Christians, seem quite reasonable.

Christians, especially fundamentalist ones, often have a martyr complex. It’s not really their fault; they came by it quite naturally. Christians revere martyrs from church history, and the bible is chock full of passages telling them to expect persecution and even rejoice in it, essentially because such persecution means you are on the right track and serving god’s interests. The persecution comes because the “world” is against the things of god.

A short sample of such passages:

Matthew 5:12 : Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

John 15:18 : If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you.

John 15:20 : Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

1 Peter 4:16 : Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

So Christians are often actively told by the bible and their preachers to expect persecution, this primes the pump in a psychological sense; it makes them see persecution in the same way a person who is told that their lucky number is 3 by a horoscope will suddenly see 3 everywhere. The incidences of 3 are likely no  higher than any other number, they are just looking for that number and not others.

This is not simply a guess on my part either. In moments of openness several ministry leaders in my campus ministry expressed conflicted emotions on a number of occasions about their martyr complex, and about how they were secretly elated when they felt as if someone was persecuting them for their beliefs. Certainly Christians have been more openly criticized in this country in recent years; however, the martyr mentality often tends to make people mistake legitimate criticism of their position for persecution.

Of course, to be fair, Christians complain not just about the criticism but also about the vitriol with which it is delivered. A common complaint that is leveled is that they are routinely maligned as bigots for their positions on gay marriage and other major topics. In this they have something of a point, though it isn’t the point they think it is.

For one thing some people just like to argue and don’t seem to know how to do it civilly, especially on the internet. It is not just atheists or others who are antagonistic; there are Christians who also act this way. On the other side, I’ve spoken to Christians and Muslims online who have flown into a frothing litany of swear words at me for politely disagreeing with them.

But we don’t even have to get into religion; just take a look at articles about computer operating systems sometime. You will find fans of other operating systems posting comments explaining how everyone who uses this OS is completely stupid for not using their preferred OS. This isn’t Christian persecution, we are just witnessing a psychological phenomenon known as tribalism. People have a tendency to join groups and then, unfortunately, shun anyone who doesn’t conform to that group. Should it be this way? Of course not. Should we try to rise above our tendencies here? Absolutely. People should be more civil, and within atheism and skepticism I’ve tried to criticize such behavior when I notice it. However, if being maligned in this way actually amounted to persecution then we might conclude that Justin Bieber is the most persecuted person in the history of the world.

On the other hand, I am also of the opinion that people often have legitimate reasons to be angry, even if they present their positions poorly as a result. Yes, I will happily agree that sometimes these people allow their anger to cause them to make points poorly, or make personal attacks. Heck, I try to be civil as much as a can, but I’m human and I’ve been one of these people from time to time. If Christians spend all the time they spent complaining about persecution trying to understand WHY these people are angry perhaps they would not feel so persecuted or find themselves so bewildered by the anger from this group.

In any case, I can hardly think it is reasonable to feel your group is persecuted by people who voice, even angrily, their disagreement with your group’s beliefs. Particularly when those beliefs, when applied to law, have a direct effect on other people’s rights. Furthermore, Christianity is still, in many respects, viewed quite favorably by society at large. However, even if it lost a lot of that popularity would that mean it was being persecuted then? Christians will no doubt rail at the comparison as more proof they are being persecuted, but the KKK’s views on race are not exactly popular either, is that lack of popularity proof they are being persecuted? Members of the KKK probably think so. However, my point is that it is not rational to claim your group is being persecuted just because beliefs popular with your group have lost ground in society at large. To do so is to insinuate that ANY disagreement with you will be viewed as persecution.

I’m sure that Christians don’t like being criticized; let’s be honest, no one does. To a certain extent I actually feel badly for them, because most Christians are, of course, decent people. Outside of the issues we strongly disagree on most are quite nice, but I could say that about a lot of people I disagree with. Anti-vaccination people are mostly nice too, it doesn’t change the fact that discouraging vaccinations has a clear and negative impact on the overall health of the country. Do we keep out mouth shut because we might hurt the feelings of these people? Perhaps some people answer that question with a yes, I, however, do not. Of course, when I do not let my anger get the better of me I attempt to voice my criticism as constructively as possible, but my conscience will not allow me to keep my mouth shut on such important issues just because someone might get their feelings hurt.

PraiseFSM1So the real question here is have Christians in the United States been subjected to anything more than criticism? In truth I can think of a few examples. I know several years ago a group of people (presumably atheists) painted graffiti on a church, but I mostly remember this because Hement Mehta over at Friendly Atheist helped to raise money to fix the church up, because he (like myself) doesn’t believe vandalism is a good way to deal with the issues. On the other side it should be noticed that Christians groups regularly deface atheist billboards and posters and I have yet to ever see a church offer to pay to clean those up. Usually they just say we had it coming.  Though to be fair I haven’t looked very hard, perhaps a church has helped clean up such vandalism before.

I’m sure this is not the only legitimate case of Christians being mistreated, however many of the examples I regularly see brought up by Christians are not actually persecution in any real sense. For instance I’ve seen many cases where someone has claimed a teacher was fired from public school for being a Christian, yet when these cases are examined closely it always turns out that the teacher was doing something they should not have been doing, like trying to evangelize to their students or telling gay students that homosexuality is a sin. Of course evangelism is practically a sacrament to some versions of Christianity so they feel they are being persecuted if anyone suggests that a work place or school is not an appropriate place for this behavior, but it isn’t actually persecution because it isn’t directed at Christians, if you were a Muslim, atheist or anyone else doing such things you would be rightfully fired too. So while I do acknowledge that Christians face criticism for their beliefs, (I’m one of the criticizers after all) and sometimes such criticism is perhaps meaner than it ought to be, the number of Christians in the U.S. who have actually faced any real persecution is vanishingly small.

Well I’m all moved now.

Sorry about the lack of updates recently, with all the moving and everything I’ve been letting things go a bit, but me and the fiancé are settled into the new place in Oakland, though there is still some unpacking to do.

Anyway, Should have a new post up later today.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Have you seen this car

So on my fiancé Megan and I took a trip out to Oakland last week to look for an apartment. We found one sot that was good. However I left my car parked on a street behind my fiancé’s apartment because the complex was repaving their lot.

We got back on Wednesday and my car was gone. Not a trace of it. As you can see it’s a classic. A four door 1971 Dodge Dart that I have been working on restoring, not a lot of these around. I really loved this car. I’ve filed a report with the police but I leave in a few days. If anyone who reads my blog lives in the Phoenix area and sees this car let the police know. (long shot I know) By the end of next week I’ll be in Oakland and even if they find it I’ll have a lot of trouble getting it out there.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just a little follow up on the debate I did back in April


Sorry, I’ve not been posting lately, I’ve been super busy with packing and moving for my move to Oakland with my fiancé. I have a couple of posts I would like to work on but have been too busy to write them.

Anyway, there was a bit of a conversation on my opponents web site back in May about the debate. I was too busy to continue it, and quite honestly didn’t see much point given some of the weird arguments being employed, but I thought I’d repost the comment section that came from here, read it and tell me what you guys think.

  • Jim,
    Definitely an interesting exchange both during and after the debate. I could definitely see the effect opposing worldviews have on the interpretation of the issue.
    I find it interesting when atheists like Dylan or Dan Barker make a point to describe themselves as "former fundamentalist Christians for XX years" when they introduce themselves as if that should deliver some sort of impact to the minds in the audience. Maybe it does for some people. But I don't think claims like that carry any weight whatsoever with someone who desires to be faithful to the Christian worldview and listens to what God has told us about the nature of his creation. I don't have any problem Dylan making that sort of claim and see it as him freely indicting himself as a rebel similar to who Paul spoke of in Romans 1. It's bold, if anything. He knows he's in rebellion and needs to repent. I'm not the only audience member that sees that in his claim.
    I also found it curious how Dylan seemed to be using "Risk Assessment when considering homosexual acts" as a sort of trump card to any evidence that those acts might cause unwanted harm to the persons engaging in them. Further, it was curious that he dismissed your argument by claiming you were exaggerating the statistics. So, he's not concerned? At what point do the statistics or the nature of the consequences become concerning for Dylan? Regarding what we should do about our concern, we need to be doctors to understand that some of the health risks are life-threatening? We're just supposed to keep quiet or say "Gosh, I don't know if homosexual acts could lead to something like AIDS, you'll have to ask a bona-fide doctor for an expert opinion on that."? Come on, that's not very compassionate or very loving, but I can see how it aligns with an atheistic worldview. Based on the previous debate, Dylan also remains unconcerned about 50,000,000+ lives ended in the US alone since Roe v. Wade. But to be fair, I gathered that he either sees the unborn as some non-human life form which eventually becomes a human, or at least if he does see the unborn as a human life, there is some gradient upon which he judges the value of one life over another depending on one's age, developmental state, or some other arbitrary degreed property. Getting off topic...
    Last, I wish there could have more time to focus on the same-sex marriage issue. I would have been interested to hear more of Dylan's possibly scientific explanation of why there is no difference between heterosexual unions and homosexual unions, despite the fact that one as a group by rule can produce the next generation and the other cannot. Why does the government bother to grant marriage licenses to heterosexual couples? What benefit do heterosexual marriages bring to the State such that the government would promote them by granting certain privileges to those who partake? Why should the government be obligated to grant the same privileges to groups of people that do not as a group by rule return the same benefit? Those are the root questions that Dylan didn't convincingly argue for in either the debate or his post-debate blog.
    Thanks again for the great debate BPR.

  • Reply


    Dylan Walker4:29 PM

    Jim you have completely misread my intent of saying that I am a former believer, I know most believers think that I was never "truly" saved, and my mom thinks I will "return to the fold" someday. I only meant to imply that I know your belief system well because I lived it. You may conclude any thing you like about me including how I "need to repent" and it doesn't really have any affect on me.
    If you want me to believe in god you need to prove he exists, I can't rebel against something that doesn't exist. I'm no more in rebellion against the Christian god than you are in rebellion against the Muslim one or the Hindu one.
    Jim, if you think that the sole reason for marriage is having children do you think that the marriages of heterosexual couples who do not have children are invalid? To me that seems like an absurd argument so arguing that gay people should not be able to get married simply because they are unable to have children is also absurd.
    Why does there have to be a benefit to the state? The state exists to benefit the public not the other way around. Only a totalitarian would argue that we exist to benefit the state.
    There is a recent story of an elderly gay couple in which one of them had developed Alzheimer's. Even though they had been together decades and the other member had power of attorney a gold digging relative of the person who had Alzheimer's had him committed, had a restraining order placed on the other person in this gay relationship and sold the house they have lived in more than a decade living him both homeless and unable to see his partner again. I don't care what you happen to think this is WRONG, and it wouldn't have happened if they had been able to marry.



    Dylan Walker4:34 PM

    Oh, and once again I will point out that AIDS is not a gay disease. It is communicable by all kinds of sexual contact as well as contact with other bodily fluids, such as blood.
    This sort of ignorance makes me feel like I've been transferred back to 1985.



    Vocab Malone6:03 PM

    I think Jim’s point is that when atheists (or Mulsims) say, “I was once a Christian” or “I used to believe everything you believe” or things like that, this claim does not automatically result in credibility in our mind. We have heard folks say this stuff time and time again and then we soon realize, said person has no idea what they are talking about.
    What makes it worse is when someone says, “I’m a former fundamentalist so I know.” Well, most evangelicals don’t call themselves fundamentalists. Only those not in the know lump fundamentalists and evangelicals together. Or Arminians and Calvinists for that matter.
    I mean, what do you think when you hear a Christian say, “I was once an atheist.” Do you think that means they understand *you*? I’m not saying we don’t believe you (in fact, I most certainly do believe you) or that you don’t know anything about Christianity (you know more than most atheists I meet about Christian doctrine).
    Dylan, Jim never said the *sole* reason for marriage was for having children. He also never said the #1 reason two men cannot get married is only because they cannot have children. It is easy to call an argument absurd but when it’s not the person’s argument, it does not really help anyone. Look again at some of his comment:
    “I would have been interested to hear more of Dylan's possibly scientific explanation of why there is no difference between heterosexual unions and homosexual unions, despite the fact that one as a group by rule can produce the next generation and the other cannot. Why does the government bother to grant marriage licenses to heterosexual couples? What benefit do heterosexual marriages bring to the State such that the government would promote them by granting certain privileges to those who partake? Why should the government be obligated to grant the same privileges to groups of people that do not as a group by rule return the same benefit?”
    He specifically mentioned wanting a scientific explanation from you to defend your claim. He gave one example of the fact that homosexual unions are not the same as heterosexual unions.
    He also never said anything about us existing to benefit the state – he is a follower of Jesus Christ, for goodness sakes! He simply said if two women together do not provide the same benefits, then why should the state confer the same privileges to them? The answer is clear, the state should not, it is not in the public interest at all. But advocates push for this because they are really after forced acceptance and the legitimization of homosexual activity in the public square.
    And you, and the President, and the general populace may approve. But this does not mean that the Sovereign God to whom all are accountable approves – and neither should those whom are his people.



    Dylan Walker8:02 PM

    I'm not aware of a strict demarcation between "fundamentalists" and "evangelicals," I've known many Christians who consider themselves both, just like I am an atheist, and skeptic and a humanist.
    Of course there is quite a bit of difference between Arminian thought and Calvinist, but that really wasn't the point, all I was saying is that he misapprehended my reasoning for saying I was a former fundamentalist, I was not thumbing my nose at you merely stating that I had recognized your arguments and typical of believers.
    Now, I cannot respond to arguments he did not make so if he wants to bring up other ways in which the homo and heterosexual relationships differ I can respond to those, he brought up an example and I told him why I think that example is not a good argument. If he wants to bring up other examples then he can posit them himself.
    He said, and I quote:
    "What benefit do heterosexual marriages bring to the State such that the government would promote them by granting certain privileges to those who partake?"
    This statement indicates to me that Jim feels that the state grants the privilege of marriage because it benefits the state in some way. Again just pointing out why I don't agree. Marriage is a right not a privilege, and it need not benefit the state at all to be granted. I'm part of the public and it IS in my interest to see gay marriage legalized, as well as the interest of many gay people. To claim it is not in "public interest" requires that you believe that the only people who actually count are you and yours and those who do not share your beliefs or religion do not deserve equal say, fortunately the bill of rights does not allow Christians that sort of authority.
    "And you, and the President, and the general populace may approve. But this does not mean that the Sovereign God to whom all are accountable approves – and neither should those whom are his people."
    Fine, but allowing gay marriage does not require that you personally approve, it only requires that you let all those people out there who either don't believe in god, or don't agree with you about what he says live their lives too.
    Telling me god does not approve is pointless until you (or god himself) proves he exists, as far as I'm concerned he is a concept that people thought up and not a real entity, but that is besides the point. We live in a secular democratic republic, this means your opinions about what god wants are irrelevant to how we ought to run the country and what rights we ought to give people. If you think otherwise then you might as well label yourself a dominionist and get it over with.


  • Jim9:37 PM

    Dylan said:
    “I only meant to imply that I know your belief system well because I lived it.”
    Yes, I know that. As Vocab correctly commented, my main point was that your claim to know our belief system well does not give you any credibility in our minds. You don’t know it as well as you think you do. Case in point…
    Dylan said:
    “If you want me to believe in god you need to prove he exists”
    Yes, I want you to believe in God. No, I don’t need to prove to you that he exists for that to happen. If you understood our belief system you would understand that God is not in the dock, and you are not the judge.
    Dylan said:
    “Jim, if you think that the sole reason for marriage is having children do you think that the marriages of heterosexual couples who do not have children are invalid? To me that seems like an absurd argument so arguing that gay people should not be able to get married simply because they are unable to have children is also absurd.”
    No, I do not think that heterosexual marriages that do not produce children are invalid. But again, as Vocab noted, I wasn’t making an argument that having children is the sole reason for marriage. Although, children are certainly central to why government sanctions marriage. I was pointing out a reason why heterosexual unions are different than homosexual unions – which they clearly are, biologically. Two men cannot come together to procreate and neither can two women. Only a man and a woman can do that. Even in the case of artificial insemination, a man and a woman have to be involved.
    Dylan said:
    “Why does there have to be a benefit to the state? The state exists to benefit the public not the other way around. Only a totalitarian would argue that we exist to benefit the state.”
    First, we are the State. Those of us who make up society, are the State. Second, part of government function is to prohibit, permit, or promote behaviors to help society flourish. The government promotes behaviors that bring benefit to society often by granting certain privileges to those who partake. The government obviously promotes marriage between heterosexuals by granting them privileges. So, what benefits does the State experience from traditional marriage? I know you think it’s a civil rights issue. It’s not. You are misguided as to why the government promotes the institution of marriage in the first place. It’s not because two people love each other. It’s not a right to have your relationship promoted by the State, it’s a privilege.


  • Jim9:37 PM

    Dylan said:
    “Oh, and once again I will point out that AIDS is not a gay disease. It is communicable by all kinds of sexual contact as well as contact with other bodily fluids, such as blood.”
    Correct. But, I never said it was a “gay disease.” You apparently misunderstood my comment to mean that I thought homosexual acts create AIDS. What I actually said was engaging in homosexual acts could lead to something like AIDS. As in, AIDS is a potential consequence of homosexual contact, since sexual contact is a means by which HIV is transmitted from person to person. Of course, heterosexuals can receive HIV from a sexual partner too, but MSM is a particularly high risk group for such a consequence. The CDC agrees: “MSM account for nearly half of the 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States (52%, or an estimated 592,100 total persons. MSM account for more than half of all new HIV infections in the United States each year (61%, or an estimated 29,300 infections).” But, as you’ve already expressed, statistics are just being exaggerated by folks like Vocab and myself. You are not concerned. It’s just 592,100 poor risk managers – big deal, they probably should have just been educated better to take more precautions. I, on the other hand, am grieved by the fact that over half a million lives may be cut short because these people willingly engaged in unhealthy behavior.
    Dylan said:
    “This sort of ignorance makes me feel like I've been transferred back to 1985.”
    LOL, Come on down and get out of the DeLorean, you misunderstood.

A couple of points here on Jim’s posts which I think employ some very strange logic. He argues that I don’t understand his religion because I ask for proof, but I would submit that he doesn’t understand atheists very well.  I understand quite well that many varieties Christianity teach that it is wrong to ask for physical proof. I even know the proof texts that Christians would use to argue that.

Deuteronomy 6:16 for instance:

Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. (many translations use the word “test” instead of “tempt”)

So the problem isn’t one of understanding it is one of rejection. Namely I reject the notion that one should believe any claim without evidence. If God exists but does not wish to proof himself then that is his problem not mine as I am perfectly happy not believing in him. If he wishes me to believe in him but refuses to provide evidence of his existence in a manner consistent with good standards of evidence per the nature of the universe that he created (assuming he exists) then he is foolish or just a horrible being. The fact that Jim can, with a straight face, suggest that he wishes me to believe a claim he is making but then act like it is totally reasonable to refuse to provide any evidence for said claim makes it clear that no reasonable dialog is possible with him on the subject of his religion.

In a previous conversation he claimed to be an engineer, he did not say in what field but I imagine that no one in his job would take him at his word in such a way. I’m just not willing to treat god claims as a special exception when it comes to demands for proof. A lack of belief in a claim does not mean one misunderstands it, in fact to properly accept or reject a claim one must understand it. He states that I am not the judge, I would point out that I am, in fact, the only one who can judge if a claim has been proven to my satisfaction.

He agrees that a lack of reproduction does not invalidate straight marriage but then argues the lack of reproduction is a valid reason to reject gay marriage. On the point I’m not sure if Jim is intentionally being obtuse or honestly lacks the ability to understand why these two statements are logically contradictory.

Of course the claims that they are really just concerned about people’s well being ring hollow. Consider this quote from the CDC’s website on smoking.

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. Each year, an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. Despite these risks, approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults smoke cigarettes. Smokeless tobacco, cigars, and pipes also have deadly consequences, including lung, larynx, esophageal, and oral cancers.

So when Christian groups start denying smokers civil rights because they “care” I could at least believe they are being logically consistent. For instance, when they start fighting to keep smokers from jobs that work with children because they might encourage kids to smoke or other comparable issues. Until then I will call this concern exactly what it is, a made up justification to push their religious ideas onto everyone else.

Then there is the ridiculous personal attack that Jim engages in by claiming I just don’t care about the half a million people that died or whatever. Allowing people to make their own choices is not the same as not caring about what happens to them, but Christians do love to characterize atheists as unfeeling automatons with no empathy. Jim, if you ever read this, understand that it is my empathy that drives me to fight for gay marriage and if you spend even a little bit of time reading my or any of 1,000 other atheist blogs out there you would find that we care about a variety of people very deeply.

The points I made about how the incorrectly quoted studies or quoted studies that were outright fraudulent stand because both Vocab and Jim failed to address any of my criticisms except to just baldly assert I was “biased.”