Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Religion is LIKE a Crutch, But...

[Trigger Warning (TW) for depiction of hypothetical use of a racial slur.]

When I was growing up as a Fundagelical Christian, one of the objections to religion I would hear sometimes was that it was a "crutch." Actually, I would usually hear this FROM religious people as an EXAMPLE of a criticism of religion that THEY [claimed to have] heard. They would then instantly dismiss it without really saying why. I don't even remember hearing [at the time] a full explanation of what it would mean for religion to be a "crutch"—the implication is that religion is for "weak-minded" people who can't handle the fact that nothing happens when you die or whatever. In the process of becoming an atheist, on the other hand, I don't recall hearing this argument [nearly as often] from actual atheists or critics of religion. That doesn't mean that there are no atheists who [have] use[d] this argument in some form. It just means that, for example, this particular "argument" [almost certainly] had nothing to do with my "deconversion." It's just as well, because it's a bad argument. It's clearly a strawman. It's obviously not fair to assert that all religious people are weak-minded and need some kind of collective hive-mind to do [all of] their thinking for them. However, as I implied earlier, this "argument" is kind of a strawman in both directions: On the one hand, there is no criticism of or argument against religion that I would consider serious that would incorporate such an insult, but on the other hand, it would be disingenuous for a person to say that not all Christians are complete idiots and then pretend/insinuate that they had defeated a claim that was in some way foundational [or even relevant] to atheism or anti-theism.

I see this as similar to the case of using the word "delusion" to describe religious belief. RationalWiki defines "delusion" thusly [emphasis added]:
A delusion is an aggressively-held belief that is demonstrably false. It is commonly (but not exclusively) the result of a mental condition, such as schizophrenia
The article continues:
Richard Dawkins, [in] The God Delusion [...] asserted that the question of God's existence was tied to the question of special creation, and then argued that since special creation has largely been demonstrated to be false, belief in God is a delusion 1
Of course, it IS true that many religions do incorporate these "aggressively-held," "demonstrably false" [or at least unfalsifiable] beliefs. And I realize that the article does mention that "delusion" is not "exclusively" attributable to a "mental condition." I also realize that having a mental condition could potentially contribute to one's "delusional" [religious] beliefs. However, we should be careful about associating religion with mental illness. In our [justifiable] efforts to characterize religion as an unreasonable system of thought, we shouldn't contribute to the stigmatization of or misconceptions about the mentally ill. If anything, "delusional" religious/spiritual beliefs are a "testament" to the human ability to compartmentalize contradictory thoughts & beliefs, which is not a bug, but a feature of the human mind-brain. It is also evidence AGAINST "intelligent" design [unless God is The Ultimate Troll, which, "according to the scriptures," He conveniently is (emphasis on the "HE")].

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Second Installment of Thread Translation

First installment/background/notation key here. Moving right along!! The following is [my attempt at] a translation of this thread:
VL: I want some [earings, in case you didn't actually click on the link! :O!] like these for my girlfriend!
EW: haha, why? Yeah, they are pretty! :D
VL: What do you mean, "why?"? THEY'RE FROM STAR WARS!!!
EW: Oooh! OK, they seemed [like it] to me. If you want to give me something like that, I will gladly wear [lit: use] it.
VL: I wish[*], there were "geek" stores where they sold them. :(
EW: They can be made to order. :)
VL: Where!? Let's go!
EW: mmm. I don't know. I'll [have to] look for a place.

[*] Literally, "Allah willing." The word ojalá is very old. It comes from back when Spain was still part of the Islamic Empire. Other such words are hola, and a bunch of words that start with al,(e.g., alcohol, algodon...)
Will our hero ever find awesome Death Star™ earrings for his girlfriend!? Ha! You'll never fucking find out, will you!? Anyway, hey, that was a lot easier than last time! Thanks for reading! And thanks for believing in me! XD "Regular" [in style if not in frequency] content coming soon!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5 Years

Hello, dear readers! Today is the 5th "anniversary" of this blog. Sure, there was that ~3-year period in which I didn't post anything, but still. I didn't have all that much to say about it at this time. I mostly just wanted to point it out, because the unit of time known as a "year" and the number "5" are COMPLETELY ARBITRARY! That said, a lot has changed since I started this blog. I don't even think I was "all the way" an atheist at the time. That probably took another week or two. Today is also [close enough to] the 5th "anniversary" of the day I started to publicly identify as a feminist. I think I've improved as an advocate/ally for human/minority rights/dignity during this time, but obviously, I still have a lot to learn. Looking back on what I've written, there are times when I'm impressed I that I was that "forward-thinking" that long ago, but there are also times when I'm kind of disappointed in my former self or think, "Wow. That was 'unfortunate' to have written." I hope to write more this year because I do feel like I have kind of a lot to say and I just recently recalled that I've wanted to be a blogger for a very long time—even before I heard the word "blog," or knew what a blog was. ¡Hasta luego!/Happy trials!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Brief Remarks On [The Anniversary of] The Death of Christopher Hitchens

My first exposure to Hitchens was in 2003 or '04 when I read his review of "Fahrenheit 9/11" in (I think it was) Slate. It was a very negative review. I was conservative back then, so I agreed with it, or at least wanted to agree with it (even though, to this day, I just haven't gotten around to watching that movie). But then I read his column from the week right before that, in which he very harshly criticized Ronald Reagan about Iran/Contra. He basically said that Reagan was either a liar or an idiot. After reading both articles, I thought, "Wow, this guy doesn't care who he pisses off!" And even back then, I could really respect that.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I'm in ur Threadz, Translatin' ur Tweets

I am posting this blog entry in my "official" capacity as Catie Wayne's (aka Boxxy) self-appointed (but Catie-approved) tweet-translator cum dickpic-screener. I'm posting it here because it wouldn't have fit on twitter. obviously.

I have a dedicated tab on google chrome for twitter:search:"catiewayne", (which is totally not weird or creepy at all... >_>) This also picks up tweets that mention her name but aren't sent to "@catiewayne". I'm only mentioning this because the tweet that mentioned Ms. Wayne, which is in the thread referenced in the next paragraph, mentioned her by name, [and] not by her twitter username, so it's likely that she hasn't seen the thread [yet].

The following is [my attempt at] a translation of this twitter thread, originally in Portuguese1. [Note: I requested permission from the OPs to translate this thread so that Ms. Wayne could read it, but as of "press time," they have not responded.] [201312030000 edit1: As you can see in the comments, I actually did get permission later.]


lit = "literally"
(?) = preceding word is my best guess, but I could be wrong
[words] = interpolation or "paraphrase"
[] = words I left out because there was no need to translate them

Again, this is the original thread.
And this is my [attempt at a] translation:
GV: I have a video that you'd love to see
JC: aiiiii, show me!!!!
GV: [video]
JC: hahahaha2 she's funny, clumsy, and looks like Boxxy, but I don't know if it was very good [or not], eh? [].
GV: "looks like Boxxy." She's [the one] who performs [lit: does] the Boxxy character(?) lol
JC: That's not true...
GV: Yes it is, search [for "you see,"][*] lol. Her name is [], Boxxy is one of her characters, she [has now] made new Boxxy videos as well.

[*] [201312030000 edit2: The original tweet said, "pesquisa pra você ver," which, if translated literally, would mean "[s/he] looks for/investigates[**] for you to see," which doesn't make any sense. :-P Therefore, I had to interpolate this into something that did make sense, so I thought that GV might have been talking about the "famous" Boxxy "songification" video, "You See" by Danielson742. But after consulting with GV, I was informed that (in Portuguese, at least), song titles are generally not translated, and that a more "idiomatic" translation would be something like, "look it up, so you can see for yourself."]

[**] [201312030000 meta-edit: the proper conjugation for "pesquisar" in the imperative mood with "você" as a subject would be "pesquise,"[***] so you can see how that would have thrown me off. :-P]

[***] [201312030100 meta-meta-edit: "pesquisa," however, IS the proper conjugation for the 3rd person singular indicative or the imperative with "tu"[****] as the subject.]

[****] [201312030100 meta-meta-meta-edit: No one uses "tu" in Portuguese anymore. {Not in Brazil, anyway,[*****] although I don't know if this is also the case in Portugal.}]

[*****] [201312091050 post-hyper-meta-edit: GV did tell me, "No one uses 'tu' anymore," but I had forgotten the context of that statement (quoted here):
No one uses "tu" anymore
people from the south region use it
but they do not use it properly
they do not... conjugate? xD as "tu"
they say tu but conjugate as "você"
so yeah, tu is not really important
Well, I guess that's all for now. I really don't know what else to say. This blog entry was meant more as a language exercise and a service to a "friend" rather than a "real" blog "article." I would welcome anyone who knows Portuguese better than I do to make any necessary corrections. Thanks. :D

1I don't speak Portuguese, but I have studied the language to some extent by completing some exercises in a small workbook. I consider Portuguese [to be] the most beautiful language, but Italian is pretty close. I actually have a better knowledge of Spanish (3rd place!), but I'm not fluent in that language, either.
2the Portuguese language has no /h/ phoneme (i.e., the voiceless glottal fricative) nor any letter representing the /h/ phoneme. Its letter "h" is silent, as it is in most other Romance languages. For example, I find it funny that Spanish has three letters that can represent /h/ (j, g, & x), but the actual letter "h" is silent! I was not a linguistics major, but I think about this shit ALL. THE. TIME.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Taylor Swift, The Westboro Baptist Church, and Blaming the Victim

Hello there, dear readers! Before we begin, some notes:

  • Yes! I’m back! I’m fucking back! Don’t expect a post/article from me every day or week, though. Maybe every month might be moar realistic.

  • Do you like reading articles that contain a shitload of [square brackets]!? What about “scare quotes”? Ellipses...? If so, then you’re in luck today, my friend! [actually, this has been the case with most of my articles]

  • I had originally wanted to make this a video, because I thought that some of the jokes and stuff would have worked better spoken than read, but I ran out of time.

  • Most of the text in the square brackets was intended to make clarifications ['cause, you know how into clarification I am, and, like, it worked so well in the Amplified Bible (right?)] and was going to be inserted into the video as text on the screen, but now you’re just going to have to read all of it, instead of hearing most of it and just reading a little.

  • I’ll be calling this an “article,” because that’s what it would probably be called in a publication that was actually respected [by anyone].

OK! On to the article!

So I know this is the second straight item I’ve published on the internet [including my most recent video] in which I “talk” about people and events, and as the quote commonly [mis]attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt says: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” But I kind of like to USE discussions of people and events as a way to END UP discussing ideas.

So Westboro Baptist Church is going to hold a protest outside the Taylor Swift concert in Kansas City on August 3rd (today? already?). In the press release announcing the protest, they call her a “proud whore.” Actually, the exact wording they use is “like a proud whore,” [which I believe is the title of a Madonna song? But, hey! I think “whores” SHOULD be proud... or at least not ashamed]. Now, as someone who has almost nothing but outright contempt for Ms. Swift [as a public figure and “artistainer,” not (necessarily) as a person], for many reasons [that have “fuck-all” to do with this], I must say that there’s probably no definition of “whore” that actually applies to her, except maybe WBC’s definition, and I don’t know what that is, exactly, because it wasn’t in their FAQs, but I would think it includes, but is not limited to, anyone who has any sex outside of marriage whatsoever, and even within marriage, presumably in any position other than missionary, or any kind of sex other than PIV, and probably, if you’re a woman, if you “dress like a slut,” whatever that means, but I could be wrong. So if that is their definition of what a “whore” is, then, and this is, of course, only slightly informed speculation, but I think it would be safe to assume that Ms. Swift would qualify for that title1, as would I, as would almost everyone over the age of 18 [and many people under that age], maybe even some people in the church itself. NTTWNBAWWI2 if she were a “whore.” Except...

Friday, June 25, 2010


I don't like to refer to people in terms of labels. This seems reductive to me. When one person refers to another person by a label, this doesn't magically transform the reality of who that person is. A person is not whatever label is applied to them. A person is a person. It's "ok" to use labels (e.g.) to simplify a person's position on an issue as long as the label-user (and his/her audience, if any) acknowledges this fact.

In a sense, it's "cool" for a group of people with common goals or ideals to refer to themselves with a label because (perhaps) it makes them feel like part of a "team," or a "club," or whatever. It might even increase their ability or desire to achieve that goal! Human beings are genetically tribal animals.

I often eschew taking sides, joining groups or teams, or labeling myself. I'm not even very fond of the "atheist, theist" labeling system. These aren't two monolithic, "black and white" divisions of people.

If I must label myself, I think an acceptable label would be "clarificationist." That's what I'm always pursuing: clarification.

Have I made myself "clear"?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Logic, "Common Sense," and "The Wrong End Of The Telescope"

[Note: This is kind of a response to JohnJ's post "The Case Against Atheism," [201308031125 edit: this blog no longer exists. :'( ] in a "roundabout" way.]

Lately, I've been trying to figure out how to deal with life and my problems rationally, and recognize emotion when it arises within me and prevent it from interfering with logic. For example, a lot of people seem to confuse "common sense" with logic or rationality. This is a mistake. It's actually very easy to "fool" common sense (see: the Monty Hall problem).

Another all-too-common mistake is "looking through the wrong end of the telescope." For example, I assume (and I'm sure that JohnJ does as well) that there is an "objective reality" that's observer-independent. The reason I assume this is that the universe existed before there were any observers (I'm sure JohnJ has his own reasons). I often make the analogy that this "objective reality" is like a picture. But it's obvious to me that the only way available to us to see "the big picture" is through science/reason: one "puzzle-piece" at a time. One of the positive aspects of this is that there are correction mechanisms, for example, if the pieces don't all fit together, then that's an indication that someone has made a mistake. I don't believe that anyone has or will show us "the big picture," so we have to try to piece it together ourselves.

It seems problematic to me that throughout history, people have claimed to have access to a "full" or at least "better" view of this "picture" through some other means than discovering it for themselves in verifiable ways. The claims of these people have often been shown to be false—earth is not the center of the universe, nor is it flat, nor is it sitting atop the backs of turtles or elephants or whatever—and don't even get me started on "mind-body dualism." [Personally], I'd be at least a bit reluctant to believe anything I was told about the missing parts of the puzzle by those who have been (continually) demonstrated to be incorrect regarding the pieces we do have.

Another way of "looking through the wrong end of the telescope" is to assume that the "law" governing the universe is some kind of "intention," i.e., to assume that things happen because they were "meant" to happen. The only "laws" governing the universe are the laws of physics, the fundamental forces, [blah, blah, blah...] I wonder, if the leaves on a tree could "think," if they would think that their existence was the "purpose" for the existence of the tree to which they were attached, or the existence of trees in general. I'm sure that the "odds" of any specific leaf appearing at any specific place on a tree are quite small. But probability isn't the "law" that governs the universe, either. The "law" is cause and effect (and let's throw some "quantum mechanics" in there "for good measure"). The interactions are just too complex for us [given current technology] to predict with absolute certainty what will happen next, so probability is a heuristic we've developed to help us achieve at least some degree of certainty.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Another Formspring "Question"! Yay! >_>

Q: you're an idiot

A: for future reference, please submit all *questions* in the form of a QUESTION! DICKHOLE! and I'm the idiot... ok. thanks!

Ask me anything

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dr. Manhattan on the Phenomenon of the Existence of Life

Scene: Mars.
Dr. Manhattan to Laurie Juspeczyk:
In my opinion, [the existence of life is] a highly overrated phenomenon. Mars gets along perfectly without so much as a microorganism. See: there's the south pole beneath us now. No life. No life at all, but giant steps, ninety feet high, scoured by dust and wind into a constantly changing topographical map, flowing and shifting around the pole, in ripples ten thousand years wide.

Tell me... would it be greatly improved by an oil pipeline?