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Month: September 2012
Not So Much a Religious Discussion as a Monologue This Time.
I ask my friend how he can look at extremists and see them as being representative of all of Islam when he can overlook the rapid, violently insane voices within Christianity as being far from indicative of what Christianity is and what it stands for.
He responds by spitting out the generic, “Because Christianity is rooted in love and Islam is rooted in death.”
These discussions have been going on for far too long, and with no resolution, I think. Finally, it’s time to stop pussyfooting around the real issue. “Christianity, throughout history,” I begin, “is responsible for more death than Islam could hope to become responsible for even with another dozen 9/11 type attacks. There is no more or less promotion of violence or love in either of the religious texts that you refer to.”
Not that I expect that to get through to him, similar arguments have just slid right off of him like his religious convictions and ignorance regarding his own faith are Teflon coated.
Weary with expecting better of him, I express what I suspect is really the substrate behind all of his rabid anti-Islam, anti-Hebrew, and anti-science rhetoric, “The fact of the matter is that you’re simply a narrow minded, uninformed bigot who simply accepts what some equally uninformed bigot claims about a religion that isn’t your own.”
I continue, “Rooted in love or not, your own faith is responsible for thousands of deaths during the Spanish Inquisition, hundreds more in Christian on Christian violence in Ireland, thousands more during the various Crusades, hundreds more during the witch trials, and tens to hundreds of thousands more during the imperial expansion into central/south America, Africa, Asia, and the rest of the world…all for the glory of your God…to spread his holy word at the tip of sword and sting of bullets.
“Islam has never even come close to those numbers…and never will.”
Turning my eye to the current American military action in the Middle East, I go on, “And there are still people being killed, by Christians, in the middle east for no better reason than that the people there don’t want to bow down and pray to the God that you do.” Admittedly, that isn’t the root cause for our involvement there, but there is no question that it is a motivating factor for a good number of the violent acts that we have witnessed.
Before he replies with some ignorant statement about how we are simply defending ourselves from Islamic aggression, I follow my previous comment with, “You’d fight with no less single minded determination than they are against us if roles were reversed.”
Once more, I opt to go after the source behind all of the things that he plasters online and argues against, “You’re a hypocrite and a bigot…you can distort it and twist it around all that you like…but anyone with open eyes and a trace of sense would be as aware of that fact as I am…and you aren’t blind or stupid enough to be ignorant to that reality yourself. Somewhere inside, beneath the layers of self-delusion and brainwashing, you know better.”
Choosing to address the way that everything is distorted to fulfill his own worldview I continue by saying, “Christians commit murder on a daily basis here in America…against other Christians, against Muslims, against Jews, against every different sort…the only reason it doesn’t tabulate the way you twist things around is because we don’t call it, “Christian violence.” It’s only because we brand any violence performed by a practitioner of Islam as “Islamic violence” that you even have news articles to share and targets for your finger pointing.
“Hell, that’s just common sense…to anyone. If we go through news articles and check the religious backgrounds of the murderers and rapists in American prisons, you’d have far, far greater incident rates of Christian violence than Islamic violence to read about.”
Momentum built up, I go on, “And hate speech like yours just spurs it on. You condemn Muslims for waving signs that Christians wave around on a regular basis…while protesting the funerals of military personnel…men who sacrificed themselves for this nation in a way that none of those jackasses with picket signs would ever dare to do.”
Thinking back on how this man used to be a friend of mine, I find myself both frustrated and disappointed, “Your religion of “love” produces and promotes no less hate than Islam. So give it a fucking rest already…you’re not that stupid. No matter how brainwashed and deluded you might be, you simply can’t actually be that stupid.”
I decide to wrap it up, receiving no response or inarticulate defense from him; I feel that maybe I have said enough. I don’t suspect that it will get through to him, but I hope that maybe some of it might. It is with that in mind that I conclude, “I consider what you believe to be insipid, primitive tripe…but I give you more benefit of the doubt than you give to people who believe something quite similar to what you believe.”
Here We Go Again! Another Semi-Religious Discussion Transpires
It happens again, my “friend” from the earlier religious discussions lets loose with something that I found impossible not to address. In this case, he posted the statement, “If a single living cell was found on a distant planet, scientists would exclaim that we have found life elsewhere in the universe. So why is a single living cell found in the womb of a pregnant woman not considered life?” I’m loath to even refer to that as a specious contention.
Upon seeing this, I reply by saying, “That’s a pretty god awful loose correlation to draw. No one disputes that bacteria are life, but we kill them wholesale when we’re feeling ill. I love your capacity for oversimplification of things in such a way. Now, if we found a cell on another planet and exclaimed that it was “human life” you would have a leg to stand on with this sort of nonsense.”
He accuses me of sticking up for the murder of a child in the womb and tells me that I am weak, further he states that I am “a loose correlation of what strength should mean.” He proclaims himself a voice for the voiceless and protection for those who cannot protect themselves. He follows that by saying, “If you were to stand for human life then you would not be full of nonsense you would be full of truth. A baby is not bacteria but bacteria is life makes no sense.”
I respond with, “No…It isn’t murder, first of all. Let’s say that, yes, you’re correct and a single cell produced from intercourse is a human life…and imbued with a soul. If that were true, then identical twins share one soul…because that process doesn’t begin until well after germination (and you claim life begins). Conversely, we have chimera…which is far more common than you probably suspect…when two cells are germinated but one absorbs the other during the process. In those cases, is the surviving organism a cannibal? Are they guilty of murder, since they did (by every standard that you uphold) take a human life? Or, since some of the genetic material of the other twin remains, do we have one person with two separate souls? After all, where in the human form is the soul located? Which piece of the body contains the tether to the soul? Because maybe my kidney has one soul, and the rest of me another? I’m not being flippant either, I really want you to share with me the great wisdom that you have regarding what a soul is, and when exactly it supposedly becomes a part of me or you or anyone else.”
A mutual friend of ours gets involved in the conversation by telling our friend that ‘life’ is a loaded term, that sperm and egg are individually both considered alive yet we don’t grant them personhood and we kill or allow them to die all the time.
To which our friend replies by saying, “a sperm and egg together make life!”
I say, “Actually, my friend, the sperm and egg are alive in and of themselves…prior to conception.”
This mutual friend responds likewise, by saying, “Yes but separately they are still alive and yet not a person, neither is a zygote or embryo a person.”
Our friend responds by admitting that life exists without fertilization, following that with, “but yet bacteria is a baby, genius. Wish I would have thought of that myself!”
Frustrated, I reply, “You did! You’re the one who posted that nonsense about finding a cell on another planet and equating it to human life.
“You are exhibiting the very definition of circular logic. You don’t even pay attention to what you profess as truth…”
He ignores what I said and tells me to explain the human eye to the “enth degree” and then claims that I can’t, because no one can. (Misspelling is his)
To which, I say, “Yes we can…there is no irreducible complexity argument. There are varying stages of eye from single cells on an organism that are photosensitive all the way to eyes that are more complex than our own.”
He replies by stating that this means nothing and demands that I explain the human eye.
I decide that I will do my best to explain it in such a way as to get through to him, “Everyone can explain the eye…you start with an organism that happens to have a cell that is slightly more photosensitive than the surrounding cells…it is capable of evading a predatory organism or an obstacle…and is able to breed more successfully (and more frequently) than an organism without said cell…the cells breed true and the next generation has said “eye” as well. Down the road we have a descendant with a cluster of said cells…and they are better able to survive than their kin…they breed that trait on…and so on…that is how evolution works, my friend…it’s actually quite simple.
“The trait that improves survival is the trait that is most frequently bred into the next generation…and so on…mutations occur over time…most of them harmful, some of them beneficial…
“That still happens today. It’s not really so difficult.”
I finalize with, “Hell, my focus in school was physics and chemistry…but I know enough about biology to comprehend all of that.”
He follows that by claiming that I am, “circular speaking nonsense, “ and that he finds me hilarious.
I don’t know how to respond to that but to say, “There is no circular logic there. You do understand what circular logic is, right?
“That wasn’t nonsense at all…there are presently organisms with essentially every stage of eye development from the most rudimentary to our own and beyond.”
Our mutual friend states, “Saying no one can explain the eye is just silly. How many PhDs in biology or genetics do you know? How many scientific papers have you read on the topic?”
He goes on to say, “Take a 5 minute break from scouring the Internet for anti-Obama propaganda and pictures of dead babies and learn something.” And he takes that time to share a brief video from Richard Dawkins: http://youtu.be/mb9_x1wgm7E
I thank him for sharing that, stating that I had actually forgotten that Dawkins had gone into that.
I continue by saying, “I just don’t understand why our friend seems to think that understanding and accepting science is any sort of negative thing. If anything, I would suspect that God would want humans to explore and admire the wonder of the natural world and the universe…and the best way to do that is to strive to understand it better and better.”
The mutual friend provides a possible explanation by saying, “Look at the stars…Goddidit. Look at the ocean….Goddidit. Look at the extreme variety of life….Goddidit. There is no creativity in religion. Only blind acceptance, which is why the Republican Party has no problem lying constantly to their own constituents. They know they have already been brainwashed and well-trained by their religious handlers to accept whatever is put in front of them without question.”
I follow that with, “Hell, I used to be primarily conservative…but this pandering and bowing to the religious right is precisely what made me distance myself from the Republican Party. I don’t have a problem with people practicing whatever damn religion they choose…but when they decide that it’s their place to force other people to live as if they believed the same things…that’s where I take exception. Abortion being legal would never impose abortion onto those who wanted to carry a child…homosexual marriage being legal would never force a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman. It’s funny that there are religious people who would call me arrogant for being an atheist…but I’m not the one parading around under the mistaken assumption that the whole universe exists just for me and that my choice of lifestyle should be imposed upon everyone else. I don’t think that they understand what “arrogant” means.”
Our friend responds by questioning how we two douches think he doesn’t like science. He goes on to say that he loves science. He continues by saying, “What I don’t love is people who think it answers everything science is merely a way to try to understand things that are far beyond us. So you posted some dude explaining the human eye. He still didn’t explain the human eye to the enth degree it is humanly impossible to do. It is for understanding things that is it. Arrogance is thinking you can fully explain something with science and math for that matter. You can’t even explain it fully with math you just cant not yet anyway. Take 5min and LEARN something!!!”
I decide that the conversation has probably gone about as far as it can go and I finalize by saying, “No, my friend, maybe he didn’t explain it to the nth degree to your liking…but if he had, you wouldn’t have followed a good portion of it anyhow, not when you instantly begin by claiming (incorrectly, I might add) that no one can. It is explained, and thousands of times over, in numerous college level biology textbooks, classrooms, and elsewhere. The workings of the human eye are well understood by numerous medical practitioners, biologists, neurologists, and others…and most of those people also understand how it developed by stages. There’s nothing magical about the human eye. You tossed out the old irreducible complexity argument without bothering to check your facts and learn that it had been more than dismissed a good, long time ago. You call it arrogant to believe that science can fully explain something, when science does a better job of explaining anything than your Bible ever has. For one second, think about the Bible (a book supposedly crafted by God, a being of infinite wisdom). In the Bible there is no information even alluded to that is beyond the superstition of a bunch of primitive agrarian people. There’s even an inaccurate calculation of pi to be found within the Bible with respect to the Temple of Solomon, even though Greek mathematicians of 250BC (and earlier) had already calculated Pi with greater accuracy. Babylonians and Egyptians had just as good of calculations of pi as early as 2,000BC as you find within the Bible. If it was actually the book of God, you would think that maybe God could do better math than the primitives who were making the same calculations a thousand years before. There is no information, no wisdom, no science mentioned in the Bible that was even advanced for the people of the Hebrew culture of the time. Science does explain things, more things every day…whereas the source of your wisdom explains pretty much nothing unless you look at it as a cultural relic that tells us a bit about one particular primitive group at the time. You can’t claim to love science but then dismiss all of it that doesn’t fit into your argument. Science and scientists do understand the human eye, how it came about, how it works, and can (and do) explain it on a regular basis (in classrooms every semester).”