Happy Ark?

So a reader suggested I update my Gravitar image and so I have. 

Happy Ark?

You forced me to take a selfie. I momentarily loathed myself. But it’s done and the image accurately reflects me at present time.

Here’s the full uncropped image.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful day!

Getting Back To The Things That Bring Me Joy

 

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My daughter trying to snap pictures of me while I resist. It was nice to see her smile.

It very much seems like I took a year long sabbatical from life. I just went through the motions and left behind many of the things that had previously brought me joy.

I stopped anything I was doing on social media. I stopped blogging. I stopped working on my YouTube channel.

Yesterday I received an email from a follower of my YouTube channel that asked me to come back. It filled me with a kind of wonder that someone (a stranger) would take the time to write me and tell me that my channel brought them happiness.

While I still read periodically, for that year I didn’t devour books at a ferocious pace like I usually do.

I worked. I slept. I read a little. I looked after Dex and tried to find my place in the world.

After receiving that email, I decided to get back to YT. I’ve already begun working on this blog again.Now it’s time to get back to working on my channel as well, so I went and got a video editing software that will help me do that. I’m currently watching tutorials that will help me navigate the software.

My partner thinks I’m crazy watching boring tutorials and ‘arguing with people online’ but those are things that make me happy.

Slowly but surely I seem to be coming awake again and doing the things that brought me joy.

Thank you to those who have stuck with this blog. It’s nice to see your comments once again.

Rebuttal: The Nature of Atheistic Doubt

In my interweb travels, I ran across The Muslim Skeptic who takes a shot at explaining why atheists doubt, and why their God doesn’t just show itself and remove all of our pesky doubts as to its existence.

Why did Allah create humans in such a way as to be liable to doubt? This is something that atheists ask in an aggressive way: If God is real, why did He make Himself hidden? If there is a God, why doesn’t He reveal Himself and remove all doubt?

Okay. Fair question. Let’s hear your answer.

And Allah addresses this charge directly in the Quran in multiple places. He says, If we sent down angels, if the dead spoke to them, if all kinds of miracles were shown to them, if literally every single sign was shown to them, they would still disbelieve.

There are a number of reasons why I don’t think this statement flies.

  1. It implies that your God does not know what will or will not convince me of its existence.
  2. It implies your God is incapable of proving its existence.
  3. These implications mean your God has limited power and resources.

Also, I believe in things such as gravity because the evidence supports it. The evidence was surely less spectacular than a miracle or angels or dead people talking to me. Yet I believe gravity exists.

So is your God incapable of providing even the same level of evidence for existence that most people would need to believe in things such as gravity?

I don’t buy it.

Also, are you saying that all atheists wouldn’t believe no matter what Allah did? Not even one would rethink his or her position?

That doesn’t sound reasonable. I’m fairly certain that if this Allah got dead people to talk to them, at least a few would definitely rethink their position.

We have drilled miles into the earth and we have gone miles up into the heavens and using telescopes we can see all these amazing, awe inspiring things in this universe, things that past people had never seen: galaxies, nebulae, pulsars, quasars, superclusters of galaxies. These are all ayat of Allah and they are so grand that they are literally beyond human conceptualization. We literally cannot fathom how large a galaxy is, how old the universe is, how powerful a black hole is and so forth. But we now see all these sublime things with our very own eyes, and none of that serves as evidence for the disbelievers.

We have done these things and found no more evidence for Allah than we have for Jesus or Odin.

Why would the existence of a black hole mean there is a supernatural deity around?

However, a black hole or star or supercluster is evidence for the existence of those things.

Why do believers point at everything around them and just pronounce it evidence of their God?

Even if it were (and it’s not) you’re literally making the same argument I’ve heard time and again from other God believers, such as Christians. Why is your God more credible than theirs?

Memo to The Muslim Skeptic: These things aren’t ‘literally beyond human conceptualization’ either since I can form a picture or idea in my mind of what those things are when you mention them.

Point being that even if disbelievers were suddenly presented with a whole other aspect of existence, no matter how unearthly, no matter how spectacular, they would always have a way to dismiss it or subsume it into their definition of “normal” and “unremarkable.”

That just isn’t true.

Not even the part about thinking of the universe as ‘unremarkable’ is true. I think the universe is incredibly remarkable and I don’t need a God to make that so.

It seems to me that a lot of theists need something to be magical or have magical origins to be remarkable. I find nature remarkable. I find life remarkable. I find history, planets, solar systems and so many other things remarkable.

Hell, I find the fact that I can type these words on my keyboard and someone half a planet away can read them instantly damn remarkable.

These things are far more remarkable than magic. The fact that you don’t need magic to explain takes nothing away from how amazing they are.

 

Is Atheism a Fad?

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Is atheism a fad?

I remember growing up and listening to heavy metal music.

Of course, my parents despised it and they would dismissively say that I was going through a fad. They told me and anyone else who would listen that my love affair with hard-rock wouldn’t last.

When they told their friends, they would smirk and tell them that me wearing black and listening to noisy music was just a thing I was going though and I’d grow out of it.

My favorite singer was Ozzy Osbourne.

I am nearly 40 and Ozzy is still my favorite artist, I still like to wear black, and I still listen to noisy music and love every second of it.

Today I read a post that called atheism a ‘phase’ and promised to prove that we would all believe in his deity eventually.

I will try to condense this into “2 quick facts to prove that if you’re not currently religious, that you will in fact become religious.”

Sure. Hit me with these two facts.

First, researchers have found that people get more religious as they age in most parts of the world. Researcher Tom Smith said: ‘Looking at differences among age groups, the largest increases in belief in God most often occur among those 58 years of age and older. ‘This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality.

First off, you need to link to this quote.

But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt since I read that study way back. While it may be true, you seem gleeful that people will say they believe in your God because they fear death. You should ask yourself if that’s a good motivation and what kind of person that makes you?

Also, it’s not surprising that the older you get, the more susceptible you are to the messages of religion. Most of us fear death and the thought that there is a way for us to literally live forever if we only believe in ancient nonsense can overwhelm our reason.

Couple that with the built in fear mechanisms that religion often utilizes (like hell or eternal punishment) and you have people scared into (or at least professing to) believing supernatural claims.

God isn’t the problem, the problem is the feeling of exclusion that’s been driving millennials away.A study by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that millennials stand out in their belief that religious groups are alienating young people. Seven in-ten (70%) Millennials believe that religious groups are alienating young adults by being too judgemental about gay and lesbian issues.

Again, you need to cite your sources.

Of course, the problem isn’t God. There likely isn’t any such thing. The problem is the dogma that clings to god beliefs – the holy books that tell believers how they should treat homosexuals, women etc.

So now as we see some churches begin to move away or at least tone down their anti LGBT rhetoric, coupled with the inevitable ageing of millennials, we’re bound to see many of these hardcore atheists find God.

It seems to be lost on you that your religion is changing, despite supposedly being commanded by a divine being. The religion is changing to suit the society it rests in. If this dogma were true, and if it were truly handed down by a perfect divine being, it would not change.

As for your last thought about atheists finding god more, that same study had something to say about that, and I’ll cite my source.

Although by most measures, belief in God is gradually declining worldwide, it is increasing in Russia, Slovenia and Israel. In Russia, comparing the difference between those who believe in God but hadn’t previously, and those who don’t believe in God but used to, researchers found a 16 percent change in favor of belief.

That kind of points towards atheism not being a fad at all.

Just like my parents were, you are wrong. Atheism has existed since the first person doubted and failed to believe the religious claims of the first shaman or some other charlatan, and they will continue to exist as long as skepticism exists.

Atheism isn’t going away. Religions have tried to (and continue to try) silence us with blasphemy laws meant to prevent them from losing arguments. They have tried to kill us and demonize us. They have tried to dismiss us as unruly children like you’re attempting to do here with this post.

But we are still here. And our numbers are growing.

 

Loving Your Readers – Even The Ones That Disagree With You

In my last post, ‘When Do You Call It Quits in a Relationship‘, I took quite a bit of flak from a few readers.

One reader (you can view all the comments by following the link above) said, “Actually, I didn’t know if I could be quite this blunt with GC, since I haven’t commented that much over here.”

This made me feel good. It’s what I strive for with this blog. I want this to be a safe haven for people to voice their views. I’m all about free-speech and do not censor people for voicing opinions different from my own.

If you disagree with my post, feel free to say so.

Does my post anger you?

Tell me why.

I want people to feel comfortable enough to blast me when they think I’m wrong.

I can take it.

And I feel the same way about the comment section. I don’t delete people who say things I disagree with or disallow their comment because it might hurt my feelings. I want people to debate and share ideas. Some people even say things that I find utterly ridiculous, but their comment will still show up in my comment section because I feel they have a right to be heard.

Another reader said, “Sorry for the semi harsh”.

No need to be sorry! Lots of people say that they have thick skin and don’t get offended easily, but then get offended at the first sign of disagreement. I assure you, I am not one of those people. I’m fully capable of being wrong or of being a schmuck and in an attempt to be fully honest on this blog, I throw it out there for people to read.

A place to share uncensored ideas is what I have always envisioned for this blog. I don’t want people to be sorry for taking the time to read my stuff and sharing their own honest opinion.

You are the readers I value most.

So thank you all for reading and having the courage to write what you think and feel. I applaud each and every one of you.

This blog exists and brings me joy because of you.

 

When Do You Call It Quits In a Relationship?

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My partner making a weird face in my mom’s backyard

Before we begin, I just want to stress that I’m no relationship expert. I’ve left behind a wreckage of relationships and only hope that my current one stays afloat.

That being said, my partner and I (I say partner because ‘girlfriend’ sounds so childish in my ears) recently had an interesting discussion about commitment in a relationship.

It started out by her talking about what she envisioned her wedding to be like. I believe it opened with a question that sounded something like, “Um, if you were to get married, would you be opposed to a small wedding? Maybe 15 people or so? I mean, just close family.”

Immediately my close to (birthday is August 6th so I’m not 40 yet damn it!) 40-year-old ears perked up.

I needed to play this cool.

Me: “I’d be fine with that. Could I make Dexter my best man? Maybe put the ring on his collar or something?”

Her: “Haha. That would be funny. I’d be fine with that.”

Me: *nods head* “Are we talking hypothetical scenario here or about you and I?”

Her: “You and I, silly.”

Me: “Oh….” *grips steering wheel a little tighter* “We just moved in together. How do you know if we will even like living together? What if it doesn’t work out?”

Her: “Then we will work on it. It’s all about commitment.”

Me: “I’m cool with commitment but what if we talk about problems and one person says they’ll work on or do something and we end up having that same discussion over and over again with nothing being done?”

Commercial break: Now that I think about it, I might not be so cool with commitment. Yes, I can stay with someone for a long time, but I’m nearly 40 and not married. I was married at 19 and separated shortly after and I’ve never felt the desire to repeat the experience.

MEDEx

Dexter sharing kisses in the car

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Her: “Then we would discuss that it isn’t okay that nothing is being done despite one of us saying we would work on this thing.”

Me: “Well…what if still nothing is done? How much does this commitment thing go on before you or I call it quits?”

Her: “It will get done.”

Me: “But, but what if it doesn’t? What if because we think we must be committed wholeheartedly to this thing we’re building, we take each other for granted? Without the possibility that one of us will leave given enough reason, don’t we give the other person carte blanche to do whatever they want, without considering the needs or wants of the other?”

Her: “That won’t happen, baby.”

Now I admit that I might be a curmudgeon. Marriage scares me. I don’t even know why particularly, but I’ve always resisted in relationships where the other person wants to be married.

And don’t get me wrong, I give the deepest kudos to those who make marriages work. I just sometimes doubt I’m the marrying kind. I almost always end up being disappointed in my partner – and in humanity in general. I think I have high expectations and that in many ways, sabotages relationships.

But while I may have high expectations, I don’t want to settle either. I don’t want to marry someone because I think they’re ‘just good enough’. I don’t think that’s fair to them or to myself.

So I’m stuck with my expectations.

But I’m getting off track. Forgive me, dear reader.

Do you think I have a point about commitment? Should commitment be unconditional or is there a point where you throw up your hands and head for the nearest exit sign?

Losing a Friend Over Black Lives Matter – Good Riddance

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Motorcycle helmet wearing dog I saw yesterday. Thought it would lighten the mood after a heavy subject like this one.

I recently lost a Facebook friend over the whole ‘All Lives Matter’ nonsense. They posted that they didn’t care about being politically correct and felt they needed to speak up and say that All Lives Matter, and that the Black Lives Matter movement was racist.

In response, I politely said that just because the movement is saying that black lives matter, doesn’t mean they are insinuating that all other lives don’t matter.

I could have skipped over the post. I only knew this person through my online writing. I also despise Facebook and was only going on to ‘like’ some of my partner’s posts, but I couldn’t let it slide.

Anyhow, one of her friends or relatives posted a graph that showed the police killings of unarmed civilians and told me that I was being racist. I wish I could take a screen shot but unfortunately, they ended up taking the cowards way out and de-friending me after I told the graph wielding friend/family member that the BLM movement is addressing the hundreds of years of racism African-Americans have faced, and that if he felt strongly about how badly white people were being treated by the justice system, he should start a movement to address it.

I also said they should stop behaving like a spoiled child waving his hand in the background saying, ‘What about me? I’m here. I matter too’.

Of course all lives matter!

However, white people are already valued in North American society and aren’t being killed in droves by police.

This pissed them both off and I was called a clown etc.

Whatever. I can take it.

The problem is that the ‘All Lives Matter’ thing wasn’t made up on its own. When taken by itself, it makes sense that all lives matter and that’s what this sort of statement feeds on – it doesn’t own up to being made in direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

It was coined as a rebuttal; a refutation of BLM. It’s saying we should ignore the way African Americans are being treated and furthermore, it seeks to brand those who are pointing out that one group of people are being unfairly targeted as racists.

It’s nonsense of the highest degree. It’s also ironic that the person who made the post said they were championing free speech and non-PC talk, but raced to hit the de-friend button once someone actually disagreed with them.

When someone says Black Lives Matter, they are in no way, shape or form saying White lives, Hispanic lives etc don’t matter. They aren’t saying they’re better than anyone else or that they count for more, but that they matter too.

If I say ‘Save the Rain forests’, I’m not saying ‘Fuck all Other Types of Forest’.

The data shows that African Americans are being killed (EDIT: proportionally) in far greater numbers than white people:

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.

One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica’s analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring – 185, more than one per week.

Stop and frisk data:

Last year, the NYPD stopped and interrogated people 532,911 times, a 448-percent increase in street stops since 2002 – when police recorded 97,296 stops during Mayor Bloomberg’s first year in office. Nine out of 10 of people stopped were innocent, meaning they were neither arrested nor ticketed. About 87 percent were black or Latino. White people accounted for only about 10 percent of stops.

And it even effects us on a subconscious level:

Following the event in Minnesota, even the state’s governor, who is a white male, told the press that he didn’t believe the incident would have occurred had the driver been white. Similar sentiments were expressed by President Obama shortly after.

Of course this does not mean that police forces across America are composed of open racists that actively conspire to take black lives. However, what has been proven by countless empirical studies is that, in general, brains respond differently to black males in ways that create a perceived threat out of an otherwise neutral event — a process that often occurs outside of conscious awareness.

So please, if you’re one of those people spouting that All Lives Matter because you heard it somewhere and think it’s clever…just stop. It’s not news that all lives matter. No one is disputing that all lives matter. No one is trying to tell you that you don’t matter.

And good riddance to the Facebook ‘friend’ who ran at the first sign of opposition.

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