It’s OK to rape women? But not men because that would be gay and against God’s plan?

In this post, I will discuss homophobia and religion (and throw in a little misogyny too), as well as the moralistic fallacy.

Recently homophobia among religious conservatives has been especially popular, thanks to the law legalizing gay marriage in the US. But let’s look a little closer at the go-to Bible verse to justify hatred of LGBT people. Let’s examine the source:

Genesis 19:1-9

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.” But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. “Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.

So the crowd is gay because they want to rape the two male angels. But as for Lot, the righteous man who God saved, notice what he did? He offered the gay rapists his two virgin female daughters. (Yes, the word “female” is redundant here, but no more so than this ancient nonsense used to justify bigotry.)

So what is that nonsense actually saying? Don’t rape men (especially if they’re angels), rape girls, because women are inferior anyway. So it is OK to rape women, but raping men is a sin. Of course as a conservative Christian, you must totally ignore that Lot offered them women, because that messes with the whole gay hating agenda.

Later on, Lot’s wife looks back and is turned to a pillar of salt for opposing God’s will. So why did she turn back? Was she lusting for the gay rapists?

It should be pretty clear that to read this and come out with the idea that homosexuality is sinful, you have to ignore all the problems with the passage, some of which are:

  • Do gay male rapists like girls?
  • Women are inferior?
  • Rape of girls is OK?
  • Rape of men is not?
  • The “righteous” man offers his innocent daughters to be gang-raped, and no judgement is made on his morals?

In other words, to read that and conclude that homosexuality is wrong, you have to already believe it to be so. You read your preconceived idea that being gay should be condemned right into the passage and then use it to justify your prejudice, ignoring the glaring problems with the passage, even though they should be enough to conclude that the whole thing is bullshit. You don’t get your morals from your bible or your religion, you take the “morals” that you already have and impose them on your religion. This is the moralistic fallacy, the idea that morals come from God. If that were true, all religious cultures would have exactly the same morals. But they don’t.

In this case, the “morals” are quite despicable. You have to read those passages really selectively to use them to justify your homophobia. But the irony is that most Christians probably don’t read their own bible at all. They just accept that being gay is against God’s will. The best way to understand how nonsensical the bible is, is to read it.

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A common non sequitur

Recently I found an interesting non sequitur posed to an “atheist and freethinkers” Facebook group I belong to. Interesting because it’s an argument I’ve seen before. I commented that it was a non sequitur, and the OP didn’t know what that is. (Neither did I until recently, but Google is my friend.)

So what is a non sequitur? It’s Latin for “does not follow”. Very simply, it’s a bad logical argument where a conclusion is drawn that is not derived from the arguments presented. There are many different kinds of logical fallacies that result in non sequitur statements, but they do seem to follow a basic pattern, which is that some inference happens between the arguments and the conclusion; there’s a disconnect and some sort of implicit assumption going on, which is unstated.

For example: The sky is blue. My pen is blue. Conclusion: Who wrote the sky?

See what I did there? If I’d written, “The sky is blue. My pen is blue. Therefore the sky is written”, that would have been an example of a questionable cause fallacy. (Specifically, it’s one where correlation incorrectly implies causationcum hoc, ergo propter hoc in Latin.) To create the non sequitur, I assumed that the correlation implied causation, and then went on to make a conclusion about the written sky. So there’s a gap between the conclusion I leapt to and the arguments I presented.

I chose my contrived and obviously logically broken example, for a reason. Besides being really clearly wrong, it’s also very similar to the actual argument I read recently. (This is not the only kind of non sequitur. Sometimes the conclusion may be completely unrelated to the argument or previous statement.)

His argument, which I must confess I did not read properly because I saw the non sequitur straight away, went something like this: DNA is a language. Then several lengthy and verbose paragraphs about the structure of DNA and how it couldn’t have evolved, including some gross misunderstanding of what evolution actually is, with some scientific jargon thrown in for good measure red herring value. Conclusion: Intelligent design.

Can you see how this illogical argument is similar to my example? Firstly, it starts with a metaphor. I’m not a geneticist, but I know that DNA is not a language. Whether you use a metaphor or a simile, what you have there is a comparison. So the argument goes off the rails from the start. DNA, when modelled by us and when explained or framed a certain way, has some characteristics of language. But it also doesn’t. You can arrange letters in virtually any order, while the parts involved in DNA only go together a certain way. So the language comparison imposes grammar rules on DNA, comparing the rigidity of its structure with the way we define rules and form words out of letters. One could also say that DNA has some characteristics of Lego blocks, and this would in some ways be superior to the language comparison. But regardless, the comparison is not with actual DNA, it is with the way we model it. His argument then makes a logical leap that is completely unstated: Man designed language. DNA is like language. Conclusion: Who designed DNA?

To conclude, the common argument that there must be an intelligent designer because DNA is a language is a really poor one. It creates a statement that is a non sequitur. Simply put the idea that there is a god because everything is so complicated does not follow.

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South Africa, the 109th best country on the planet!

For those bozos who believe our esteemed idiot president, crook and mysteriously-cleared-of-all-charges rapist, Jacob Zuma, it seems that maybe, just maybe, Johannesburg is not the “foremost city in Africa”. Not by a long fucking shot.

Jacob Zuma

IFLScience recently published their commentary on the happiest country in the world (according to a Gallup-Healthways report). What got my interest was that they linked to the site where you can get the full report. South Africa is right in there, vying for the pride of the bottom dwellers, ranked at number 109 out of 145 for 2014. What is our current rating? Who knows? But thanks to the ANC government, we are strong contenders in the fight for bottom place.

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Between the devil and the deep blue sea

Update: Modifying this online with the wordpress editor in my browser earlier screwed with the line breaks and paragraphs. (I should stick to Windows Live Writer.) Fixed.

This maddening post has been tumbling around in my mind for nearly a week now. Never quite forming words, nothing coherent anyway – only fragments. Yet it begs for release, to be expressed, and since writing is my therapy, I will grant its freedom. Maybe this fragment of The Sisters of Mercy’s A Rock and a Hard Place, from which I borrowed my title, will help glue my fragments together:

A rock and a hard place await for for me
Between the devil and the deep blue sea
Everything I ever did right or wrong
Hid out of sight where I belong
Belong
Belong

And I didn’t have the heart to tell her why
And there wasn’t a part of me that Didn’t want to say goodbye but

Cause and effect go hand in hand with
The devil may care but I don’t mind and
I Thought she’d never quite understand so I
Left her there that night but will she
Find me? I don’t think so, no
When you go, you go alone
And I’m gone….
Far away
Far away
Far away

I have shifted gears again, out of writing about atheism and back to my personal shit. This is probably boring. You have been warned.

Almost a week ago my ex spoke to me on the phone. She told me that she wants to chat, in  person, the next time we see each other. (When is undefined but probably over a weekend.) “There’s a lot going on here” and that her aunt wants her to move to Cape Town but she wants to stay in Johannesburg to be close to our son. “A lot going on” is a precursor for “There’s trouble here”, which most likely means that wherever she is, she has messed up the relationship there and it won’t last much longer. (Because that’s what she does. Let’s just say that she is difficult.)

So what might this mean? Maybe she wants to come back. Again. Her timing for leaving couldn’t have been worse. She left right after we had a meeting with social workers (regarding the court case about our son) where she said that she wasn’t leaving. Then she showed up at the court case, and it’s very clear that my chances of getting our son back are very much better without her around. (My chances are 100% by the end of the year, without her.) Not only that, but he doesn’t even like her.

We used to have a wonderful relationship. It was the two of us against the world, and I loved her more than I could ever love any woman. She had this weird habit, when she was pregnant (and she was huge), of sleeping literally on top of me. I sleep so deeply I would never have known, but she used to tell everybody about it. (Maybe it would’ve been less endearing if I’d ever woken up like that.) We had the most amazing sex right up until the night before our son was born.

But our romantic relationship ended in 2009, when she was more interested in partying with someone else at night and leaving our son with me, than being his mother. I have tried to make it work since then, tried so many times that I lost count. But the last (almost) two years, even in bed we were adversaries, enemies in the eternal battle for the blanket. Never won, never lost, but always fought valiantly.

In this last time together, my feelings were about her daughter, and I do still miss her terribly. All I wanted up until two months ago was for a family with both our son and her daughter. But everything is different now, and taking her back would involve, besides having to hear from too many people how stupid I am to do so, the risk of not getting our son back at all. It’s not fair to be the one that she always returns to, not because she loves me, she doesn’t anymore, but because it never works out anywhere else. Of course I may have read too much into her single statement. I don’t know.

Edit: Fragmented is right… I forgot one of the most important parts. A few years ago, when we were still in love and fighting the world together, we had a mutual fear regarding our drug use. In her words it was the fear “of going mad” caused by our meth use. We’d talk about it for hours, and I promised her that I would always be there to take care of her, no matter what. And that is my dilemma. When I made that promise, I meant it, and I still mean it, even though she has long since forgotten. In a way, her behaviour is the result of her worst fear coming true. The problem is that she doesn’t know it. In her “madness” she forgot how she really felt about me and our son, and for a while back then, she treated someone else like he was me, and me like a stranger. For a while, it was like she reversed those roles completely, but I still feel committed to the promise I made years ago. I am still the same person, sober and older and wiser (and I’d like to think better) than I was back then, but the same person anyhow. I still feel the same, and I still feel responsible for her, because I promised her that I always would be. It’s hurt me to keep my promise, but I have kept it all this time. Much of the time, I still think of her as she was, not as she is. And I have never once in these last six years even spoken to her about that promise.

“A promise is a promise” is a lyric from one of our favourite songs from back in the day when she was still the person I fell in love with. (Placebo – Broken Promise) But is a promise still a promise when the person you promised it to has changed so much that they are no longer that person, and they don’t remember how important it was?

Posted in Recovery, Relationships | Tagged | 1 Comment

Atheism is NOT a religion

Not only is atheism not a religion, but as an atheist and a sceptic, I believe that it is a colossal mistake to debunk any specific religion.

Over the weekend, somebody shared a thought on an atheist Facebook group I follow, that went something like this, “If you made [your atheism] a new religion, what would you call it?” I commented there, but this post is intended to be a more thorough answer than what I could say in a two line comment.

As an atheist, I am often accused of being “religious” in my atheism. It gets worse than that… since we atheists are a minority in a credulous world, we tend to find each other and stick together. Thus many atheist Facebook groups and pages exist. This gives an impression that atheism is an ideology, or a religion. But it isn’t. Atheism is not a common set of beliefs holding people together. On the contrary, our only common denominator is that we don’t believe in any theistic god.

Theists tend to perceive all systems of belief, and into this they erroneously include atheism – despite the fact that atheism is really a lack of belief, in terms of their personal theistic belief. If one thinks about this, this is necessary, in that a sincere belief in god and the theistic explanation of anything that opposes that god must mean, in the mind of the believer, that anyone who disbelieves in that god has fallen under the influence of that god’s opposing entity. For example, if you accept your particular god is the one true god, and any idea that opposes belief in that god comes from “evil”, for example Satan, then atheism is equivalent to the worshipping of Satan. (Never mind that Satan is just as imaginary as God.) It’s a classic false dichotomy: If you don’t accept my god, you must be in league with my devil.

This allows the theist to construct a straw man of what he or she believes atheism to be. In my opinion, framing atheism as a religion serves only to bolster their straw man view of atheism. Doing so is a mistake, a massive error that should be avoided at all costs.

Likewise, as somebody who was brought up as a Christian, I tend to perceive all theism in terms of my own religious indoctrination. It doesn’t matter that I long ago rejected that indoctrination; it still forms the foundation of my own impression of theism. What this means is that if I should try to debunk theism with specific examples, I will end up debunking only a small subset of Christianity, and not address the fundamental problems inherent in all theistic ideologies.

That is, I could come up with many examples, some of which are:

  1. Jesus walked on water? Obviously that never happened.
  2. Jesus was born of a virgin? Impossible. I could go on about how a god that exists outside of the physical realm couldn’t possibly impregnate a (physical) virgin, or tell you that this idea was borrowed from many other older religions, but I’d be wasting my time.
  3. Jesus turned water to wine? Oh, don’t be silly.
  4. Jesus rose the dead? Sure, that happens all the time. Also, ditto for other religions.
  5. All that nonsense about the Pharisees? Clearly added by preachers who were critical of other preachers after the demise of Jesus, assuming he existed at all.
  6. Noah’s Ark… This weekend I took my son to the zoo, and even at seven years old, he understands that the zoo is a large place, with separate enclosures for different animals. Let’s not even get into the logistical impossibility of storing all species in one big boat, or how to stop them defecating all over and eating each other. Let’s forget that one could mathematically calculate the number of species of animals that have evolved (or been created?) since then, and that the numbers relating to the rate of increase of species makes no sense. Let’s forget all of that. What I want to know is, if there was a worldwide flood, where the heck did all that water go? (Oh, I know that you’ll probably say that it froze into the polar ice caps. Overnight. Never mind that your bible doesn’t say so.) Also where is the geological evidence of this world-wide deluge?

All that and more is a waste of time. All I’ve done, in the mind of the believer, is construct a straw man. The fact is, there are so many different denominations of Christianity alone, a reader might read this and say “But I don’t believe in any of that”. Or they might find ways of justifying why they do believe in some of it (but I took it “out of context”), or maybe it’s all allegorical. Yet to them it might be allegorical sometimes and not other times. Or they might believe in some of it sometimes but not other times. Contradictory beliefs are part and parcel of theism, where cognitive dissonance is the norm, and motivated reasoning is required to reconcile those contradictory beliefs. No matter what I say, no believer is ever going to stop believing; instead they will believe it with even greater conviction, resenting my logical arguments that cause them (subconscious) distress such that hanging onto those delusional beliefs becomes even more important.

A theist who isn’t Christian might read my anti-Christian arguments and say, “Of course that doesn’t make sense! Christianity is a false religion. [Insert some other deity here] is the true god.” On the other hand, many atheists like to bring up all the gods that were ever worshipped, and point out to believers that atheism is the rejection of “just one more god”. But this makes a flawed assumption about theists: It assumes that they all believe in only their god, and that all others are false. Not every theist has this view. Another view may be that we somehow have an instinctual or universal inbuilt “knowledge” of our creator. Thus some theists might believe that all religions are correct, in spite of their contradictions, and some people do, in fact, switch from one religion to another while remaining secure and sincere in their beliefs.

To conclude, framing atheism as a religion is a momentous error. It pulls you into a straw man argument such that you will end up defending atheism in terms of a religious ideology, which it most certainly is not. There is no evidence that any god exists or that anything at all was created by any god. There is plenty of evidence that man created all gods, as a means of explaining existence. The argument that a creator exists, simply because I cannot prove otherwise, is nothing more than an argument from ignorance. In my opinion, if we should debate theists, which I do not like to do because it never gets anywhere, this should be our starting point: Evidence versus argument from ignorance. Framing atheism as a religion, or arguing about moralistic fallacies, or even considering debating anybody who states that the words in the bible “prove God exists” is a foolish waste of time and effort.

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Look, you made a circle

I posted this image on Facebook the other day, after stealing it off somebody else’s timeline, and I was amazed at the amount of discussion it generated.

proof

I hereby accept Spider-man as my personal saviour.

The joke is of course mocking people who like to quote “the word” as proof of God’s existence. If you can accept that, then you might as well accept a Spider-man comic as proof of Spider-man’s existence, right? All praise Spider-man!

Here’s the thing: According to your logic, God exists because you accept that the nonsense written down thousands of years ago, by some cattle-sacrificing nomads in the Middle East, is the literal word of God, whose existence you presuppose. In other words, you believe in God because God.

Look, you made a circle!

Seriously, I can’t think of a better example of circular logic.

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If you had to name your drug after somebody, who would it be?

I arrived at work early again today, and in those first fifteen minutes, that guy was chatting to me on Skype again. Even though it was between midnight and 1AM in Houston where he is, there he was, that guy, the guy who can’t stop using meth and asks me advice but then doesn’t listen. He reminds me of myself a few years ago, and I hope that one day he ends his love affair with crystal meth.

He wrote an open letter to crystal meth and asked me to proofread it before he publishes it. I will in a bit, but first I had to write this. What got my interest is that he refers to writing a letter to her, to Tina.

Why Tina, I wonder? I have a friend named Tina. She’s an adorable 27 year-old Taiwanese girl who works in the same building as me, and sometimes we chat on our smoke breaks. She’s really beautiful, but it’s almost an innocent kind of cute beauty. I associate her name with purity and innocence. Maybe a little desire too; but one that will never be pursued.

My point is, if I have to personify crystal meth, Tina is not a name I’d use. Not Megan either, because she is also clean. Maybe Nicole, maybe Kaylene, maybe Laska… I think I’ll stick with Nicole. (And no, I am not going to tell that story.)

She represents beauty and desire packaged in a petite and sexy teenage female form. I lust for her and once I get some, I can’t stop. Never. Not even smashing myself against the back of her vaginal wall until I blister and bleed will be enough. She is the crying out of pleasure and pain all at once. She is an orgasm of blood. To her I will give all my money, my heart and soul (if only I had one) and all my belongings, and once I have nothing left, I will take what I can from others only to give to her as well. She is forbidden fruit that I can never taste again, because one bite will set me on a path where I never want to recover again.

And I jest – I do have a soul. It’s currently residing at the Cash Converters branch in Hell, on a buy-back with Satan.

But seriously, if you had to name your drug after a person, who would it be?

Posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Recovery | Tagged | 9 Comments