Steve Shives and Atheism+(Unrelated BS)

So . . . Steve Shives.

BOOOOOOO. Booo!!!!! Booooooo.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. The guy is a twat. I’m jumping on the bandwagon and responding to him anyway. For those of you who don’t know who Steve Shives is: He’s a Youtuber, former rational human being, and current feminist talking head. He’s at the front of the line of the Atheism+ movement that ran secular activism into the ground by making it totally inaccessible.

I liked Steve when he talked about secularism and atheism. He was a rational human at one point, which makes his utter demise at the hands of the feminist Borg even sadder. I was also involved in far more non-religious and secular activism back in the day–you know, back before atheist conferences turned into weird, social justice-fests that hardly even talked about atheism anymore, which is what I was personally there for. I know, how silly of me.

Atheism+ is essentially to atheism what Feminist Frequency is to gaming. It took a group that was about one thing, co-opted it entirely, said that it should have been about something else the entire time, then got mad whenever anyone pointed out that the two didn’t have to be fused together into a horrible Frankenstein of a monster. The atheism movement was originally about spreading skepticism of religion and promoting secular thought and debunking unfounded claims about atheism. Atheism+, on the other hand, insisted that atheism should entail being a social leftist who fights for all these other things that are totally unrelated. That’s why I said that it drove atheist movements into the ground–people who otherwise would have attended for the religious skepticism left after figuring out that they had to be anti-white supremacy, anti-patriarchy, anti-capitalism activists too. Because not believing in any gods totally means that you’re all this other shit! That’s not inaccurate at all.

So, what about Mr. Shives? Here’s a video entitled “Why Do They Call It Feminism?”. It’ll be great. Sigh.

___

“I had some thoughts about a picture that a friend of mine shared on Facebook. It’s a picture apparently taken from a sign on the LA Metro, and it reads ‘Respect our women passengers. Please refrain from the following: staring, masturbating, following, unwanted touching, unwanted conversation, asking women where they’re from. These actions create an unsafe space and contribute to violence against women. If you are unable to refrain from harassing other passengers, please change seats and notify the bus operator.'”

Why would the person doing the harassing be the one to notify the bus operator? That just doesn’t make sense. I have some issues with this sign. I don’t really understand how this is supposed to be helpful. Public masturbation and stalking are already illegal. I doubt that if someone was going to jerk off on the subway and stalk someone off of it, seeing a sign telling them not to wouldn’t really do anything. They’ve already made that life choice.

What is this sign supposed to do? Because the only people it’s having an effect on are men who already aren’t doing that and weren’t going to. So the idea that all men need to be given this reminder makes no sense and is actually very insulting. It would be like McDonald’s having a sign hung up in its kitchen saying, ‘Don’t spit in people’s drinks.’ It would be like a prison putting up signs saying, ‘Hey, don’t shank each other!” It’s not going to stop people from doing it if they want to do it, and it’s treating all the ones who weren’t going to do that like ingrates.

Also, why does it only say ‘Respect our women passengers.”? ‘Cause, you know, guys are totes okay with seeing some other dude jerk off in public. It doesn’t make them uncomfortable in the slightest, I’m sure. They give that guy a thumbs up.

These are just bad things to do (excluding, of course, the utterly ridiculous ones about daring to talk to someone when they don’t want to talk and asking them *gasp* questions). If you’re going to have a sign telling people not to do them, why is it only framed as being for the benefit of women? Why is it framed like no one else is made uncomfortable by these things and that women are apparently never the perpetrators of any of them? This sign just seems fucking pointless.

“The first comment under the picture when she shared it was some dude asking, ‘Why does is say respect women passengers? Why doesn’t it say to respect all passengers?'”

I had that question too. If you’re going to put that pointless, waste-of-space sign, you might as well encompass as many people as possible.

And that ties in with another commonly heard stupid question, which is, ‘Why do they call it feminism? If it’s for gender equality, why do they call it feminism? Why doesn’t it just refer to itself as humanism?’

I don’t care about this. It’s called feminism because, when it was started, it was very much about women’s rights. This whole, “We work for both genders!” idea is a relatively new one. I know why it’s called feminism. No, my question is why, if feminism is a movement for gender equality, does it not only dismiss men’s issues but actively fight against the Men’s Rights Movement, which doesn’t dismiss those issues? I’m not an MRA, but, from where I’m standing, it seems like both of you should be on the same team, and yet feminists are the first ones to use “MRA” as an insult that essentially equates to “misogynist,” just because MRAs dare to point out that men have problems (which inherently means they’re downplaying women’s issues, I guess). I’ll get back to this later on in Steve’s video where he goes on an utter rampage against MRAs for no real reason.

“And the reason I say that this is a stupid question is because it ignores the obviously apparent reality that you can see just by opening your eyes and observing the behavior and the traditions and the values and the customs of the culture that you are a fucking part of.”

Open your eyes! Look around! How could you go outside and see the world and still say that there isn’t a God?!

Steve, this is why people have stopped taking you seriously. You’re using the same rhetoric that you used to make fun of. This isn’t obvious and apparent to me, and I’m a woman. I guess I just must have internalized all that misogynist rhetoric. You can’t just say that it’s so obvious and act like that’s an argument.

The reason why it’s called feminism while advocating for gender equality is because females are the gender that are the underprivileged, underserved gender. You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender. You see how this works?

This is where feminism fails. It asserts that women are the underprivileged, underserved gender as if that’s a universal, across-the-board statement that covers ever issue. It’s not. Women have it better than men in many situations, but if you follow feminist logic you’re not allowed to acknowledge that. And, no, that is not me saying that women don’t have the short end of the stick in many situations. They do. But so do men. And if you’re fighting for gender equality, it’d do you good to realize that making blanket statements like “females are the gender that are underprivileged and underserved” doesn’t help. It ignores that women have it better than men sometimes, on the basis of their gender.

They can be underprivileged and underserved in certain areas, of course, but that’s not the whole picture. And feminists tend to ignore that in very damaging ways. Men make up almost half of domestic violence victims. They have for a long time. But the man will still be the one who gets arrested if the cops are called. The man will be the one unable to find a shelter. The man will be the one who isn’t given any help. And yet feminists are the ones constantly painting domestic violence like it’s an exclusively male-on-female thing where only women are ever hurt and only men are ever the perpetrators. I have not once seen a feminist acknowledge that domestic violence is not a gendered issue.

This is a case where men got the short end of the stick because they are men, and you do not take it seriously at all because your ideology has told you that men can never be in that position, Steve. Your ideology has robbed you of your ability to see “the obvious, apparent” things that are wrong here.

It’s the same reason why we call it the gay rights movement. It’s not because we think gay people deserve to be better than straight people, it’s because gay people are in the inferior position and we want to raise them up to equality. That’s how you attain equality.”

Gay people actually did lack rights that straight people have. They also never claim to be a movement that helps people of all sexualities. No gay guy is getting up on stage talking about how he’s doing this to help out his asexual brothers. They lacked rights. What rights to men have that women do not have? This is a very simple question that no one can seem to answer. I just need one example of men in America having a right that women do not. But, guess what, I can think of at least two rights that women in America have that men don’t have (the ability to opt out of parenthood without legal repercussions and their exclusion from the draft). But I guess I’m just derailing women’s issues by bringing those things up, right?

The reason why the sign on the bus says ‘Don’t masturbate to female passengers is because female passengers are the ones who are made to feel unsafe by that behavior. Now, I’m not saying that a female passenger on the Metro has never just openly started masturbating to a man. I don’t want to say, for sure that that’s never happened. But I would guess that the ratio is pretty lopsided. It’s mostly men doing it to mostly women. That is the nature of the problem that the sign is meant to address. That’s why it fucking says that. Alright? Have you got it? It’s not an accusation that you personally are a rapist.

Once again, I feel like everyone would feel unsafe in this situation, not just women. What about a man masturbating to another guy? What if they’re not looking at anyone in particular? Does this still only make women feel unsafe? Also, are you just not going to address any of the other points? What about ‘unwanted conversation’ or ‘asking women where they’re from”? Are those also things that make women and women specifically feel unsafe? Or are those just not worth bringing up? I mean, they’re only most of this sign. But, hey, let’s just focus on the undeniably not-okay one, because if we talked about any of the other points, that could open up the floor for actual arguments about how they’re not that bad and how this sign is stupid.

I also looked up crime stats for this. Granted, I did it for America, not the UK, but in the USA at least, indecent exposure (which public masturbation counts as) has gone down and wasn’t a very prevalent crime to begin with. It was mainly situated on weekend nights where public drunkenness charges were filed jointly with indecent exposure charges, and the overwhelming majority of non-drunk encounters were centered around homeless men who were most likely mentally ill. It’s rarely people with serious sex offense charges who do this, and the ones with repeated sexual offense charges had charges of the same voyeuristic nature (where they were pervs but no one was harmed by their actions).

So you have mentally ill homeless men who aren’t going to be swayed by this sign and perverts who aren’t going to be swayed by it either but who nevertheless aren’t statistically likely to be violent against women, so that claim falls flat. Then you have drunk guys who might actually be prompted to change their behavior if they see this sign on account of drunk people being more susceptible to environmental cues. So, there you go: You got one for three when it comes to who this sign would actually leave an impact on, which is good. It is statistically significant. Drunk people do this a lot, so subconsciously manipulate them into behaving more cordially all you want. That being said, that still doesn’t excuse this sign’s implication that only women are negatively impacted by those actions. And, to be honest, saying “Respect all passengers” would probably be more effective at mitigating drunken idiocy because that environmental cue isn’t dependent upon the presence of women. So even allowing for the notion that this sign would solve a large percentage of this issue by affecting how drunk people behave, framing it solely as a women’s issue doesn’t make it more effective or more true.

It makes it less of both of those things, actually.

“So drop this hypersensitive defensiveness. . .

I’m sorry, I think I just burst a blood vessel in my brain. Really, Steve? Really? People who aren’t feminists are the hypersensitive and defensive ones? Really? Something tells me that if a similar sign were to be put up in supermarkets telling women not to spank their children in the food aisle because it makes other patrons uncomfortable, you and the rest of the feminist mob would throw a bitch fit about how it perpetuates harmful ideas and stereotypes about women. But somehow this sign doesn’t encourage and perpetuate harmful and stereotypical views of men and it’s something we actually need. This isn’t me being hypersensitive, Steve, the hypocrisy and double standard is, to use a word you love, obvious.

And either grow up and learn to accept the fact that we live in a society where there is gender inequality, and where it disadvantages women, and that that is a problem that needs to be addressed.

No one is saying that sexism and gender inequality don’t exist, Steve. No one is saying that. No one is saying that there are no problems. I’m pretty sure people are perfectly happy to address the problem of public masturbation on the Metro–they’re just against the way the “solution “was framed, which is fine, Steve. And here you go again acting like the only gender inequality that should be addressed is the gender inequality that women face and that men implicitly face none. That is just patently not true. You wonder why the MRM exists while simultaneously ignoring any and all evidence that men face gender-based inequality in certain areas as well. Once again, making blanket statements about what gender is advantaged and what gender is disadvantaged is far too black-and-white a viewpoint to encompass the reality of the situation.

Or toddle off to the Men’s Rights Movement sub-Reddits and bitch and moan with the other guys who are upset at the unfair divorce settlement or that they never get to see their kids or because the girl they like won’t go out with them.

What?! What the fuck, Steve? What the fuck. You  sit there and say something like that, and yet you’re still in the fucking dark about why people are getting fed up with you. You just mocked people who are victims of unfair legal practices that are unfair in large part due to their gender. If it were women with these issues you wouldn’t fucking dare laugh at them, to say, “Oh, boo fucking hoo, I don’t get to see my kids anymore, wahwah!” Oh, but it’s women who got the better deal here, so it’s not an issue! Women are the only ones with issues, don’t ya know? It’s something that can be mocked and made fun of!

And yeah sure, guys whining about being friendzoned is dumb, but so are the feminists on the feminism sub-Reddits complaining about air conditioning. And you lumped them in with men who have actual issues. You just equated complaining about a sub-par romantic life with being financially ruined by a divorce and not being able to see your own children because of a custody battle that tends to favor mothers. What the fuck is wrong with you, Steve? Has feminism killed your empathy for men so much?

There’s a place for you. It’s called the Men’s Rights Movement.

Yeah, apparently! It’s not like you’re going to care about their very real issues, based off of what you just said. You laughed at them. You minimized their problems. And you wonder why people are turning to the MRM, when that is how you regard the issues they talk about? Then you make fun of them even more for turning to a movement that actually gives a fuck about them because they’re fools for not joining up with the movement whose spokesperson actively ignored and mocked their problems. I thought you were supposed to be encouraging people to become feminists, Steve?

It’s a little bubble of misogyny on the internet that you can go and be with your own.

If you’re willing to cop to the point that lots of feminism hubs are bubbles of misandry, I’ll give you this point. But you probably won’t. The extremists in both of the movements are very similar, Steve. The only difference is that people don’t even take the MRAs who make legitimate points seriously, whereas con artists and clear misandrists can speak for feminism and be lauded as the voices of women and the voices of equality.

And when you ask them a question like, “Why does it say respect our women passengers instead of respect all passengers?” you will have such a warm, welcoming response. They will not mistreat you and abuse you verbally the way I have just done.

Maybe that’s why they’re not feminists. It’s a bit difficult to join a movement that says it cares about men’s issues too, only to have every men’s issue you bring up be dismissed or called selfish or laughed at or accused of derailing of the true issues that face women. The only thing I ever hear feminists talk about men’s-issue-wise is how men aren’t allowed to cry, and that’s of course only ever talked about in the context of how sexist towards women it is that men can’t be “girly.” So, I can understand why they would not be feminists, Steve. Feminism has proven time and time again that it gives no fucks about men’s issues and that it only acknowledges them when they dovetail with a women’s issue that is “more serious.” And yet you’re talking down at them like they’re just too stupid to know what’s good for them.

They will love you and support you for everything that you are: a deeply oppressed holder-of-a-penis whose life has been ruined by these mean, nasty women.

Way to strawman the entire Men’s Rights Movement. I’d also love to see you make the same commentary on feminist women who are, of course, just complaining about how mean, nasty men have ruined their lives. Oh, but wait, when a woman is hurt by a man her feelings are important and valid and an accurate reflection of the sexist culture we live in. Switch the genders around, though, and you’ve got a grade-A misogynist who is just complaining out of his ass and who doesn’t live in reality. I also love how you flat-out deny that someone can be oppressed if they’re a dreaded holder-of-a-penis. The empathy you have for people is fucking staggering.

So I would suggest that if you can’t hold up in the real world where these problems really exist and where people feel the need to try and address them in real ways . . .

I already talked about how saying “Respect all passengers” would probably work better at deterring crime, so feminists trying to address problems in real ways was really lacking. And didn’t you just go on a tirade about how the real issues men face are stupid? Who can’t hold up in the real world again, Steve? Because it seems like whenever someone brings up all those unfortunate facts proving feminist dogma wrong, you regress into calling people misogynists and actively tell them to just leave, even though you’d think that if feminism was sooo right, you wouldn’t be shooing detractors away from it. You do not speak like a man who is convinced that what he says is true, Steve. You speak like a man afraid to be confronted with anything that contradicts you because you wouldn’t know how to deal with it.

Put in your application for membership at the vaunted He-Man Woman Haters club. And just be happier over there. That’s my suggestion to you.

Seriously, Steve. You suck at feminism! You should be trying to convince people to agree with you, not sitting in a corner and pouting and saying, “Fine, go be a misogynist, I don’t care, whatever . . .” And, here we go, with the final nail in the Stereotypical Feminist coffin–accusing those who question you of being women-haters. Well, Steve, aren’t you in a conundrum with me, then? I’m a woman, which means I know more about it than you. How dare you presume to speak for me, and all that. But then, I’m a woman who disagrees with feminism. Can you call me a He-Man Woman Hater too? Isn’t that ascribing your white male opinion onto me, a black woman? That’s oppressive. What is we gon’ do now? WHAT IS WE GON’ DO!!!!????

If you look at a sign like that, or if you look at the term feminism and you just can’t understand why it refers specifically to women. Go there. Go there. They want you. They will accept you. Personally, I have no use for you.”

Well, I’m personally glad. You don’t come across as a man I want to be of use to.

___

I actually feel really bad for Steve, guys. There’s a video on his channel of him talking with his feminist wife, and it’s actually really hard to watch. She just brow beats the guy into submission over nothing. He likes Angel more than Buffy, which makes him sexist. Even though he clearly knows more about both of those shows than his wife does, she still feels inclined to tell him how sexist he’s being for liking the spin-off more (totally failing to explain how its many “strong female characters” are even sexist, to boot–just listen to her trail off when discussing the character Fred in order to steer the conversation back to how sexist TV is). He likes Angel more than Buffy, he reads the wrong books, and he listens to the wrong music (presumably made by men or made with male characters). And she guilt trips him over it for like ten minutes. And then when he nods his head and admits that everything he likes is wrong and problematic, she continues to brow-beat and guilt trip him because him acknowledging how sexist all the things he likes are is just another sign of male privilege and how it’s bad that he expects her to think he’s a better person for acknowledging those things.

I legitimately feel bad for this man. No wonder he has such an unreasonable hatred of all things anti-feminist. Not even anti-feminist, just things that don’t toe the line enough. No wonder he actively disengages from actually talking about his ideas on feminism and just spouts his regurgitated rhetoric into a void, blocking all who oppose and refusing to even explain why he’s right to those who argue. These are people who he thinks are wrong and harmful, and he won’t even attempt to change that. He’s just a guy so desperate to not be talked down to by his own wife that he freaks out. Because if he doesn’t toe the party line, his wife will bite his fucking head off.  And then probably blame the patriarchy for making her get blood all over her good hardwood floors.

Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts: The Charlie Hebdo Shooting and a Satire Comic from Me

And I mean by creating more satirical comics, of course. Terrorists are not afraid of death or threats of violence. They are not swayed by calls to arms or talk of war. What they are afraid of is education, of humor that makes light of them and whatever they use to justify their actions. If they were afraid of war, they’d be much smarter about how they went about things. Is it all Muslims who condone this? Of course not. But I’m getting rather tired of the No True Scottsman argument being raised every time a religiously motivated act of violence is carried out just because people don’t want to say anything bad about Islam after Bush fucked up royally. And now, the people who died aren’t cold in their graves before people start calling them racist Islamphobics who crossed a line with their satire and kinda sorta invited the bullet to the face they got. But I am of the firm belief that nothing is sacred, and apparently that magazine is too, just looking back at their similarly scathing and unflattering treatment of other religions besides Islam.

I decided to avoid the tired claims of Islamophobia by taking a jab at Christians too. I haven’t cartooned in quite some time, but I feel like this is the best way to speak out against all that has happened. Enjoy (and I’m sorry for the small size, I couldn’t upload it any bigger–just click on it and it’ll take you to full view).

Self Esteem

He can stand up for himself, don’t you think?

Answering 31 Questions about Atheism

Hey there, guys! Here’s something a bit different. As have have stated a few times, I am an atheist. I like talking about atheism–I’m very open about it, mainly because there’s an idea floating around that women aren’t atheists or that there aren’t any racial minorities who are atheistic or that people in from lower class homes aren’t atheistic or that people from the South are all religious, so I like letting people know that my uber-specific demographic of black female poor people from the South is represented by at least one person.

Now many questions for atheists are framed in very obnoxious ways, but I found a list of thirty one questions here that at least seems genuinely interested in getting answers without any of the implied antagonism. So that’s great. I think it’s important that atheists, especially ones who actively support secularism like myself, take some time out to answer these questions. A lot of them are pretty stereotypical ones that atheists hear a good deal and have to reply to a good deal. But I’ve always been one to encourage people to ask whatever questions that they’re curious about. The fact that I’ve answered it many a time already has no bearing on the fact that they still don’t know and are still curious enough to ask, and it’s irrational to get mad at people for asking an understandable question just because it’s the one question that everyone asks and you have personally responded to it on other occasions before. (I’m looking at you, everyone who got pissed off at Piers Morgan over him asking the obvious question about transgender-ism.)

So let’s start! Strap in, it’s going to be a long one.


 

1.) How would you define atheism?

Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods, nothing more and nothing less.

2.) Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?

This question is a bit odd. I haven’t heard it before. For the record, atheism is not commensurate with saying “There is no God.” I understand how that can be really confusing, but atheism pertains to belief only. When it comes to knowing something, you get into agnosticism/gnosticism. That being said, I’m going to say that I act according to my lack of belief in any gods the same way I act according to my lack of belief in faeries: It’s just not a thing that factors into my behavior unless the specific situation calls for it to. My atheism may come into play during a funeral or while I’m debating for secularism, but my average ever day interactions and goings-on aren’t soaked through with my disbelief in God. I don’t think I do things “like an atheist,” whatever that would entail. 

3.) Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist?

This is a very oddly worded question, as it implies that God actually does exist and that I’m “working against” the guy knowingly. You might want to word that differently: As it stands now, it’s a loaded question. I’ll just reword it to “Why should an atheist care about religion when they don’t believe in it? Isn’t talking about something you don’t believe in a waste of your time?” That seems like the question.

And, no it is not inconsistent, in my opinion, simply because religion is a hugely influential part of almost every culture there is. It’s like asking a liberal why they bother talking about conservatives when they don’t agree. I think you’re wrong, which would be fine and not worth anything other than a lively discussion over drinks in of itself; but you’re wrong and trying to affect other things, and that’s where I draw the line. Many atheists “work against” God because that is the cultural force that atheists are up against. The way I typically explain it is by invoking Santa Claus. I don’t believe that Santa Claus exists, and I would leave it at that and be perfectly happy if the people who did believe in Santa Claus just kept it to themselves and didn’t try to enforce that on others. But if I lived in a country where most people constantly insisted that Santa was real and that his existence should affect our laws and the way we interact with each other as human beings, you can bet that I’d work against Santa Claus even though I didn’t think he existed. The fact that I don’t think he exists is the entire point of my opposition.

4.) How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?

Pretty sure. 

5.) How sure are you that your atheism is correct?

Once again, pretty sure.

6.) How would you define what truth is?

Ah, a philosophy question. I feel like I should point out that atheism only says anything about my lack of belief in god. Yes, there are other ideas that many atheists may share in addition to atheism because they overlap, but they are separate ideas. How I define truth may be how some other atheists define it, but it definitely won’t be how we all define it. That being said . . .

“Truth” is a really abstract thing that will hurt your brain if you read any philosophy about it. I personally define “truth” as “the concrete state of things independent of individual perception.” If a tree falls in the woods and no one was there to hear it, did it make a sound? Yes, because there are laws of physics that the natural world follows, and those laws would allow you to reasonably assume that two heavy things hitting each other in open air on the surface of the planet (in this case, the tree and the ground) will make a sound, because that’s what has been observed in the past and continually observed in the present. The sound it makes is the truth. It happened independent of perception and is not subject to personal bias of opinion. That’s what happened.

When human cognition and decision making is put into the mix it gets extremely more muddled, but even in those situations, there’s typically a “truth” in it somewhere. Let’s say John punches Bob in the face. John says he did it because Bob made him mad, but Bob says that he didn’t do anything that should have made John mad. The only truth that can be determine there, then, is that someone got punched in the face, but it’s still the objective fact of things.

7.) Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

I believe it’s a justifiable position simply because the burden of proof is not on me. This is one of those questions where you’ll probably get the exact same answer from everyone you ask: Burden of proof. Atheism isn’t an assertion, it is a rejection of an assertion. You say that there is a god. I say I don’t believe you. Once again, atheism is not saying that there is not god–that’s an assertion. But I am not asserting anything: I’m saying I don’t believe what you have asserted and giving my reasons why. If you said that you could fly but you can only do it when no one’s looking when you take off and when you’re in the air you become invisible, would it not be reasonable for me to assume that you’re lying? When someone makes an assertion–especially an extraordinary assertion–they have to back it up. It’s not my job to prove that you can’t fly just because I don’t believe you. You’re the one who said you could fly in the first place, so it’s your job to prove that you can because I’m the one that needs convincing in that situation.

And since the burden of proof is on the person claiming that there is a god or gods, that burden of proof must be met before I believe the claim. And, in my opinion, there is nothing indicating that there is a god or gods. People always say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but that’s not the case. I don’t need extraordinary evidence to believe in a higher being, I just need something. I need some evidence, and there doesn’t appear to be any. Even if evidence for a god or gods was provided, that still wouldn’t be enough to prove the validity of any particular religion. At most it’d get me to be a deist, and my behavior would change in-so-much that I acknowledge that a god does indeed exist but that I don’t know what it wants from humanity, if anything, and have no reason to assume that it wants something if it hasn’t already made that desire apparent.

8.) Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?

In all honesty, those kind of things aren’t something that interest me so I don’t have that much of an understanding of them and therefore don’t feel comfortable claiming that I’m either of them. The definition of physicalist seems pretty okay, though. The furthest I go into anything like that is claiming that I’m an existential nihilist, which has less to do with the properties of the physical world and more to do with the human perception of the physical world.

9.) Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview?  Why or why not?

Atheism is a worldview only in relation to the worldviews that already exist. If no conception of god ever existed at any point–if there was no theism to be opposed to in the first place–than not believing in any gods wouldn’t mean anything. It’s an idea that doesn’t exist, so of course no one would hold it. But since the idea of god does exist and many people do hold it and many of them hold that idea to ideological extremes, I’d say that atheism is a worldview strictly because it offers opposition to theism, which is a worldview. My particular worldview leans toward the perspective of a secularist as opposed to something strictly atheistic, however.

10.) Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

I am antagonistic toward religions–not just Christianity, by the way–in the sense that I think they’re unnecessary and am open about that opinion. I try not to be overtly mean about it, though. I used to hate the more vitriolic “angry” atheists like Dawkins and the like, but I’ve grown to see the use for them. Some atheists are friendly and inviting despite thinking religion is wrong (how I try to be) and some atheists try to bitch slap people into reality, and we need both of those. Niceness doesn’t persuade everybody and neither does harshness, so if the two can coexist and work off of each other, why not?

If you want to be religious, that is perfectly fine. You have every right in the world to believe whatever the hell you want, no matter how wrong anyone else thinks it is. You have freedom of thought, and I would never try to make religion illegal or forcefully take it away from someone, or automatically think lesser of a person simply for ascribing to a religious faith and call them an idiot. That would be dumb. That being said, I think people willingly turning away from religion without any force or coercion is a good thing, and I’m glad that it’s happening more. I don’t want to say that I feel bad for religious people because that’s condescending and I don’t begrudge people things that make them happy, but I guess I’m just sad that religion is what makes people happy because it’s not needed–there are so many other things that offer the same perks of religion and can make people just as happy but don’t come with the baggage of intellectually dishonesty and other negative aspects that religion has.

So why the antagonism? Well, I grew up in the South and didn’t move until very recently, and the South is very fond of telling me that I deserve to be tortured forever for literally no other reason than not following a certain belief system. I know gay people who have been egregiously abused by religious leaders and their family members. The Vatican covers up terrible corruptions and perversions all because they have to look good for God. In high school I got in trouble because I didn’t want to say “under God” during the morning pledge of allegiance (which was creepy all by itself even before religion got put in it). It’s still illegal in some states for an atheist to run for office because we’re evil godless heathens. Someone trying to get sober can’t graduate AA until essentially becoming religious, no matter what they believed beforehand. People are still insisting that America is a Christian nation, which is most definitely is not now and was never intended to be. There are people teaching this to children not as a worldview option that’s available to them like all the other worldview options but as the Truth, so instead of letting kids be intellectually curious like they are by default, they shut that down before it even starts.

And I know that this isn’t all religious people. I know that. I know religion does plenty of great things, and I know it helps people and encourages them to do good things too. I know that plenty, most, of religious people are intelligent and kind human beings. But, from what I’ve seen of the world, religion is one of the only factors that can make a genuinely good person do bad, harmful things. And it’s not even necessary. Politics make good people do bad things too, but politics at least offer something that no other institution can. Religion cannot claim that. And that’s why atheists are so angry.   

11.) If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

I was a Southern Baptist as a little girl, like most people I grew up around, because that’s how religion tends to work: You’re born in a place around people who believe things, so you believe them too. I was never overtly religious, though. My parents were Christians but not the church-y kind. We didn’t say a prayer before eating or anything like that. My grandmother was and still is very deeply religious on a personal level though she didn’t go to church, and I would talk to her about God and faith and strength of conviction and trials where God helped her through a lot. I always thought it was interesting subject, but I never really bought into it wholeheartedly. I remember asking once where God came from and getting the typical “God was always there” answer and thinking it was really lame, even as an eight-year-old.

I believe I stopped being a Christian when I was eleven or twelve–early middle school age. After that I was a deist for a while, still believing in god that cared about humans but not the Christian one. I was of the belief that the afterlife existed–pretty much heaven and hell–but that god didn’t care about what you believed, only that you were a good person, and you would be sent to heaven or hell accordingly. Then I learned about Greek/Roman mythology in my literature class and realized that our mythology now was their religion back then. And that seemed really sketchy, so I started to wonder how we could know what God wanted at all, so then I became a more traditional deist who believed in a creator but didn’t assume that the creator had any plans for humanity.

Then it eventually got to the point where I just owned up to being an atheist because that was what I was and what I had been for quite a while. I realized that I just liked the idea of a creator more than actually believing that there was one and wanted to be honest with myself. I never really felt bad about it. I was in the atheist closet until senior year of high school, though. I was aware of how weird and looked down upon atheism was to most of my classmates, and distinctly remember being in the atheist closet and having a really awkward conversation where a group of acquaintances decided to talk in depth about their respective religious practices and I was really uncomfortable and lied about being a Catholic because that was the first thing that popped into my head for some reason when they asked me what I was. So yeah, nothing bad happened or anything. The best way to describe it is that I grew out of it.

12.) Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

Not really. I think religion is bad, don’t get me wrong. But I also know that people have a tendency to mess things up no matter what. So if religion never existed, we would just find something else to use as an excuse to do things that were quite the bad idea in retrospect. So I think the world would be just as bad/good as it is now, just for different reasons. I’m not going to ban religion now or anything, even though getting it out of politics (which is crazy enough on its own) would probably do wonders in regards to adding some level of rationality to political decisions. 

13.) Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?

Christianity specifically? Hmmm, I’m actually not quite sure. Can I broaden the question and say that I think the world would be better if none of the Abrahamic religions existed, Judaism and Islam along with Christianity? They’re all pretty much the same thing just different, so I’ll assume that if one of them didn’t exist the others wouldn’t either, at least not in quite the same way that they exist now.

I know I just said the world would probably turn out the same if no religion at all ever existed, but if we’re talking about specific ones and we assume that everything else would go on as normal, yeah it would probably be better, in my opinion. I’m just basing that on the fact that the Abrahamic religions were used as an excuse for quite a lot of bloodshed both in the past and currently. Even though a lot of those things probably would have happened anyway because religion was oftentimes just used as a flimsy excuse for doing bad things that power hunger leaders were going to do anyway, I’m going to assume that the ultimate body count wouldn’t be as bad if people weren’t under the delusional impression that they were fighting for God. Maybe if they just thought they were doing it for the Queen, it’d be a bit more okay in the end of the day. A bit. Maybe.

14.) Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?

Faith in a god or gods can be used as a catalyst for mental disorders (schizophrenics thinking that God talks to them, paranoiacs who think the Rapture is nye, and the like). But faith itself is not a disorder and shouldn’t be classified as a disorder. Anyone who says that is an idiot. Faith in a creator is very much a natural human desire.

15.) Must God be known through the scientific method?

The scientific method isn’t the only way to go about creating theories and providing evidence, it’s just the widely agreed upon method that seems to take into account the most variables. 

16.) If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

This is a loaded question simply because there are plenty of things that are immaterial that we can still have evidence of and can still study using the scientific method. Introspection is a nice example–there is no quantifiable or material evidence of human introspection in cognition, but we can still study it and prove that it’s a thing that happens. We can have theoretical evidence (like the infinite Turing Machine) that doesn’t have to be physically proven as long as its internal logic is consistent. The issue with gods is that they are not internally consistent and that we cannot study it as a concept, immaterial or not. 

17.) Do we have any purpose as human beings?

Nope. I’m an existential nihilist, as previously stated. I do not think that anyone’s life has a plan. I don’t think that humanity has a purpose. And I don’t think “life,” in abstract terms, has any universal, objective meaning whatsoever. I find that to be an incredibly egoistical way of looking at things. Humans are like one collective hipster–we stroke our own ego and foster a sense of grand self importance despite everything indicating that we are in no way special.

We are one intelligent species living on the third rock from one star on one planet that just so happened to be able to foster life. We walk on top of the bones of creatures that lived for billions of years longer than our species has even existed, but that are now wiped off of the map–gone extinct like most of the life that has been on the planet. We’ve only just arrived on that time scale. There is an entire solar system around us, in an entire galaxy, in an entire universe. It is the most egoistical thing ever to think that we are important, to think that out of everything in existence we are the only things with a higher purpose because we’re just that great.

All that said, the relative insignificance of humans as a species in relation to the entire rest of the universe and known time has no bearing on people’s personal purpose. There’s no objective reason that we’re here, but so what? “The meaning of life is to give life meaning,” and all that. Individual people can find their own purpose in anything they choose and be truly happy. People live for their family and their friends, their jobs, their personal ideals. You don’t need any universal, objective purpose in order for life, here and now, to be meaningful to you. The universe doesn’t care, but the universe doesn’t care about anything. It’s no reason to be sad.

18.) If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

I feel like I adequately explained how our purpose can be determined. Find stuff you enjoy and enjoy it. The end.

19.) Where does morality come from?

Years and years of interaction among members of a very social species of animals is where morality came from. Morality came from the same place as affection and respect and authority: a long time ago when human beings were still wearing the short pants they learned how to best go about things and built up cultural connotations around certain actions. Overlapping mouths grew to mean that you cared about someone’s well being and became a part of the universal human language as a sign of affection. Letting a skilled person lead the group and appreciating the benefits their leadership reaped and therefore treating them with honor eventually led to the ingrained concepts of respect and authority.

We gained the ability to read facial expressions, even microscopic changes, twitches in the eyelids and the corners of the mouth. We learned how to understand the universal motions, the body language that helped us interact with each other as a social species whose very survival as a race very much depended upon being a social species. With this understanding came human empathy, essentially the height of mental abilities for a social species, the one thing that allowed people to treat others as they would want to be treated, to do things not entirely based around self interest and individual survival as was the case with other species. That fostered the growth of bands and tribes and developed civilizations. And eventually we got smart enough and comfortable enough and safe enough to muse about things, to be introspective.

Morality comes from humanity’s status as a race of social animals that needed it to survive. Early humans depended upon the help and goodwill of those around them. As social creatures, we depend upon healthy and preferably affectionate interaction in order to be physically and mentally healthy (even now babies can still die if they’re not given affection–not just food and a safe place to sleep, but affection). Someone had to take care of the babies, someone had to protect the weak, someone had to share their food, someone had to help the sick or injured–because if someone didn’t do those things, humans wouldn’t have survived against other predators. Killing and maiming and leaving members of your already small band to die and driving people away from you by being surly and unpleasant didn’t help matters, and humans learned that fairly quickly. And just like inherently understanding facial expressions and kissing someone you like, it became a part of what we were as a species. 

20.) Are there moral absolutes?

This is an interesting question. It ties back in to the question about truth for me. I think, from an individual and perceptual standpoint, that there are no moral absolutes. Many aspects, if not most, of what is considered right and wrong has a lot to do with cultural values over anything else. Some places think cannibalism is okay, some places think it’s depraved. Some people think corporeal punishment is okay, some people don’t.

But I don’t think that human moral subjectivity negates the existence of certain moral absolutes either. It makes sense that both things would exist, relative to how humans perceive the world. A moral absolute can be considered something that objectively causes harm in reality despite the perceptions of those involved. A sociopath may think that it’s fun to rape an innocent person totally unprovoked, and that morality is perfectly subjective. But that doesn’t change the objective fact that someone was acted upon against their will and harmed against their will when the situation objectively did not call for harm to be done to them, with no objectively good things arising from the situation. You can then say that rape is objectively wrong simply because it is an objective harm done for nothing but subjective benefit.

So I guess my answer to the question is both yes and no.  

21.) If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?

Most horrendous things done to undeserving and/or unwilling parties counts, I believe. Rape. Infanticide. Regular genocide. Confinement (work camps and the like) Torture. You get the gist. 

22.) Do you believe there is such a thing as evil?  If so, what is it?

I wouldn’t call it “evil” like some concrete, tangible thing that you can unleash from an ancient puzzle box that you found at an antique shop or something. It’s really just a vague concept of general badness that no one wants to deal with, much like how “good” is a concept of vague niceness that people like. I generally try my very best not to completely demonize people and just call them evil–I try to run under the assumption that people have reasons for their actions, even horrendous actions, and while those reasons do not justify those actions they offer a better explanation than just saying, “Well that guy was a bad seed.” Even sociopaths have the excuse of having a mental disorder. In that way, I think the good/evil dichotomy is just an incredibly oversimplified explanation of complex human behavior and motivation.

Dismissing someone as being evil, I think, is making light of what could have been a very introspective topic. To be a pretentious person who quotes things: “Is evil something you do, or is it something you are?” And I think that evil is very much something that you do. Actions can be evil, but it takes much more for a person to just be evil. What is evil then? My definition of evil would be “an action either purely maliciously motivated and/or futile and unjustified that causes intentional harm or damage to others or someone who engages in actions that can be described as evil frequently.” I don’t think there are very many people out there who fit the bill of being pure evil, but there are definitely actions that qualify. 

23.) If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

It should be noted that I don’t like God as a character. I don’t believe in God (or any gods, clearly) so therefore obviously don’t think God is actually doing bad stuff, but I strongly dislike the Christian God the same way I strongly dislike other fictional characters like Dolores Umbridge or Bella Swan.

I judge the God of the Bible (I say the Bible just because the New Testament isn’t all love and rainbows like people insist it is, Jesus or not) using my own moral standards and the typical moral standards of humanity and basic reasoning skills. If a human being acted like the God of the Bible, they would be considered a monster and God should not be exempt from that basic judgement just because might makes right.

He creates people knowing beforehand who will and will not end up going to Hell (He’s omnipotent and all-knowing, He is in the space between spaces, all that stuff) where he will then punish them for eternity for bad things he knew that they were going to do and yet did nothing to stop, which then opens of the can of worms about punishing people infinitely for finite crimes. Seems like a little bit much, to put it lightly. I’m pretty sure even Hitler has learned his lesson by now. He has committed genocide on more than one occasion, He gave the devil permission to ruin Lot’s life for a petty bet, he sent bears to maul children to death for calling a man bald, he had a man almost kill his own child just to prove how much he loved Him (that’s not creepy at all), he kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden for doing something that he knew they were going to do and that they wouldn’t have been able to comprehend as wrong until after they did it because they had no concept of right and wrong beforehand, after pretty much setting it up perfectly for that to happen (seriously, if you didn’t want them to eat the fruit you didn’t have to put it there, why would you do that?). The concept of original sin is essentially punishing the child for the crimes of the parents, just taken up to the nth degree, which is terrible in of itself.

There’s lots of stuff that makes God quite the unpleasant guy. Personally, I would have done things much differently if I actually loved my creations and wanted to be seen as benevolent. My morality is better than your God’s. And if you wouldn’t murder you own child just because someone told you to and/or you wouldn’t be the one to ask someone to murder their child to prove their love for you, your morality is superior to His as well. The Greeks had it right: any gods that existed were petty and volatile and foolish and certainly didn’t care about humans, much less have their well being in mind. And Prometheus had the whole “sacrifice myself form humanity” down way better than Jesus ever did.

24.) What would it take for you to believe in God?

To believe in the Christian God it would take nothing short of God or Jesus showing up and saying, “Hey! Christianity is the one true religion, guys! Peace!”

To believe in just god, though, some kind of evidence would be nice. Evidence that a developed disembodied cognitive force capable of manipulating the cosmos can exist. Evidence that miracles can actually happen. Video footage of divine stuff happening. Just tested, confirmed evidence is all I need.

25.) What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?

See above.

26.) Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?

Evidence for any gods, like evidence of anything else must be rationally based, yes. People having unquantifialble personal experiences doesn’t count, just like people who say that they got abducted and probed by aliens doesn’t prove that aliens have visited earth. First and foremost, the evidence has to be falsifiable. I know that sounds odd when I type it out, but evidence is evidence because it has the capacity to be proven wrong if any more knowledge is made available. Claims of God can’t be proven wrong–they’re kind of just there and have to be taken at face value, like the person who says they can fly but it can’t be observed or tested or documented or proven in any way. Just take their word for it. Even supernatural things can be tested, they just have to be given different determined standards and scales (ghost hunters, anyone? No I don’t believe in ghosts, it’s just an example.). God can’t be tested at all, though.

27.) Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer?  Why?

I couldn’t care less about a society being run by Christians or atheists or Muslims or Jews–I would like a society to be run by reasonable human beings. You can be a reasonable human being and be religious. You can be a reasonable human being and be an atheist. But just be reasonable. That being said though, America is full of crime and violence and is also very Christian, whereas Sweden is one of the happiest places on earth and also one of the safest as far as crime rates go and is also very, very nonreligious. Make of that what you will. 

28.) Do you believe in free will?  (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion).

I am firmly of the opinion that free will (and the possible nonexistence thereof) doesn’t matter that much, so I haven’t given it much thought. If free will exists, people will do what they do. If free will doesn’t exist, people will still do what they do. Either I’m typing up this blog because I want to or I was just destined to do it based off of brain chemistry and how my life has been, but either way I’m still sitting here writing a blog and having a grand old time. It seems pretty irrelevant as to whether free will had a hand it that or not.

29.) If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?

I answered that.

30.) If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time?  If not, why not?

I actually study cognitive science for a living, so this is very interesting. I’m not going to say that it’s not possible (all things are technically possible), but I highly doubt that. Highly doubt it. A very interesting thing to note is that the human brain has actually almost stopped evolving already just because we live in a society where evolutionary changes aren’t specifically selected for anymore because we don’t need the best of everything to survive with all of our modern commodities. The brain is a physical, biological machine that needs a physical and biological form to function and its incredibly complex. We can’t download someone’s brain into a computer because of its complexity. This idea would happen to computers before it ever happened to a human being. At best, you could say that our perceptual abilities would expand to more god-like proportions (maybe we’d be able to willing enter into an out of body experience), but they would still need the “home base” of a physical brain to do all of the actual perceiving. It’s a cool sci-fi idea, but probably not something that will happen in the next billion years.   

31.) If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?

I answered no, but even if I answered yes the existence of a god would be vastly improbable. Like I said, it is possible that a god of some kind exists (just extremely improbable) and that’s why I’m technically an agnostic atheist. Even so, the above theory depends upon the notion that in order for a god to exist it must have first had a physical form that evolved over billions and billions of years until it reached omnipotence. That then creates the circular logic of what created that first physical being and what created that creator and so on and so forth–the “who made God?” argument. It relies on strictly natural processes in order to explain the supernatural, and it falls flat for that reason. It then goes on to assume that this disembodied consciousness would not only have power in the physical world but the ability to bend the laws of the universe outside of its mere existence, which seems unlikely. A mind cannot create physical things, only envision them, and that mind having the ability to internally warp the logic of space doesn’t mean it would externally be able to do the same. We managed to split the atom–essentially the physics equivalent of surpassing a physical form–but the affect was still well within the laws of the physical universe that have already been observed and recorded. There’s no reason to assume supernatural qualities. 


And there you are. I leave you now.