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!