Monthly Archives: June 2010

New Moon review

So to continue my trend of Twilight-induced self-torture, I watched the movie New Moon. I wrote this months ago when I saw the movie , but I just didn’t have time to thoroughly shorten my notes into a coherent blog post. In “honour” of Eclipse coming out next week (I think), I figure now’s a good time to stop being lazy.

A few notes: There will be massive spoilers because I have tried my hardest to put things into appropriate context. That being said, there may still be a few details that lose salience if you haven’t seen the movie. So if you must see the movie, I highly recommend rifftrax. Then come back and read. If you don’t care, read on. More…

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Skepticism is hard :(

So I came across something “interesting” in the Christian Science Monitor:

You might want to get the language right. Skeptics can be excessively negative, all arched eyebrows and begging to differ. But sometimes skeptics stop everyone from going off the deep end.

Hmm…how’s this going to go? I’m not sure of the message yet, so I’d better arch my eyebrows and read on. More…

A comment too offensive not to get it’s own post

Sometimes I get, um, interesting comments. Like this one. In a reply to my analysis of the book Beyond Belief, the chapter about Bigfoot etc, a reader left his explanation of the evolution of Bigfoot, American Indians, and Africans and how they are all supposedly connected.

Now, before I begin my in-depth “analysis” of this lengthy prose, I should note that it’s entirely possible that this is a Poe or some kind of spam, as I have found variations of this post on several different blogs (and more), all with the same attribution. But, because it’s more fun, I’ll assume it’s sincere. Onward… More…

I don’t understand why you’re offended, therefore you shouldn’t be

The FFRF has a new ad saying “Sleep in on Sundays” and it has been followed by what seems to be an unfortunately predictable atheist chorus of  “I can’t believe people are upset about this”.

While I don’t disagree that sleeping in on Sundays should be a fairly innocuous suggestion, I have to wonder what is expected to be gained by essentially saying to the religious community: you’re feelings are stupid. Have we become so jaded by religious controversy that our only response, as atheists, is to blandly complain about it?

Of course religious people are going to be offended by the ad – they’re being challenged (albeit subtly, but challenged nonetheless). It’s not unusual for a challenge about something people really don’t want to think about to be met with hostility or frustration. We’re putting these messages out there, it’s up to us to deal with the response constructively whether we want to or not – that’s how we raise awareness of atheism.

Isn’t outreach the point of these ads: To 1) let atheists know that there are other atheists and 2) to make society in general aware that the world isn’t only made of religious people? The FFRF expects a response, it’s part of the publicity. And if I’m part of a religious group that hears all the time about how evil and immoral those baby-eating atheists are and how they are trying to destroy religion in America, I might interpret any sign that challenges me as an affront to my rights or beliefs. It’s not true, but consider the perspective and the background necessary for someone to think it’s true.

Simply saying “I can’t believe you are upset” isn’t actually addressing anything and we’re not contributing to positive outreach when we react this way – challenging religious beliefs in a religious population is a big deal. Even many atheists find FFRF ads offensive sometimes. [And before someone misunderstands me – I’m not advocating for the FFRF to stop their messages – I think the religious should be challenged in these ways given their self-assigned moral and societal superiority, even though I wish sometimes it was focused more positively towards atheists and less negatively towards religion.]

Patience is indicated when dealing with strong, culturally-rooted beliefs. I can’t figure out if people are saying these things (“I can’t believe people are upset”, etc) because they genuinely don’t understand or because they are being disingenuous and intentionally adding further challenge. If the former, some education is in order – we can’t expect to make gains in groups that we refuse to understand. If the latter, after the challenge has been issued, I’m not convinced that it’s constructive to then continue to flog the horse. We’ve got their attention, now it’s time for patient explanation – as exasperating as mindless offendedness is… Someone sensible is hopefully listening to the explanation.