Showing posts with label Analogies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Analogies. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sins as Crimes

Imagine you have a son mid-puberty. He appears to grow another inch every day, but his vocal cords are struggling to keep up with the man he is becoming. You’ve had the “birds and bees” talk, but whatever knowledge or values you managed to impart were filtered through the teenage mind. One day the police come to your door with a warrant for your son’s arrest. They take him into custody and make his bedroom a crime scene. You don’t get a full explanation until you follow the police cruiser to the station. Internet traffic monitoring provided just cause to make the boy a suspect for multiple counts of pornography viewing. Their CSI team then did a blacklight sweep and discovered suspiciously placed sperm discharges. Your son goes to court and is found guilty of both consuming pornography and masturbation, both serious felonies. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

In this alternate reality, not only are watching porn and beating off crimes, they carry the same penalty as the crimes of rape and murder. Replace the word “crime” with “sin” and “police” with “God” and this alternate reality mirrors the divine judgement as described by many religious denominations. Catholicism, for example, considers porn, masturbation, rape and murder interchangeable as mortal sins--meaning that if any of these go unrepented God will send you to hell.

My question to theists is this: would you be comfortable with your government judging crimes the same as you believe God judges sin? I doubt anyone could truthfully answer “yes,” which implies that they’d be fine with their son being hauled away in the above scenario. If I were to guess, I’d say I won’t get many theists answering this question at all. To make this easier, allow me to address what I suspect will be their two main issues with the hypothetical.

“God judges, man should not.” Okay, then I assume you are comfortable with revoking all laws of man. From now on no earthly repercussions for murderers and rapists, let God sort them out. Not ideal? Okay, moving on.

“God sacrificed his only Son to save us from the punishment we deserve, providing we repent and/or accept Jesus as our Savior.” Applying this to our analogy, anyone convicted of a crime, be it masturbation or murder one, will be let free as soon as they admit to the crime and ask forgiveness. This will free up the prisons and put everyone at risk by, again, effectively taking away earthly consequences. I understand that for most religions the asking for forgiveness is ideally sincere and paired with an honest attempt to never sin again, but theists must also admit that the attempt nearly always fails and cite our sinful (or in this case criminal) nature as the cause. Same applies here. A stricter reading of this issue would make the criminal in question need to beg forgiveness from the State, worship either the arresting officer or the President of the State, and act in service of the State until they die in order to escape the sentence of life in prison. God, if he exists in any capacity similar to the beliefs of Abrahamic religions, is no more just or merciful or loving than a totalitarian government with 24/7 surveillance and absolute enforcement. Knowing that I once thought otherwise is a testament to the power of indoctrination.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

On-line Debate Goes Postal!

You've probably heard this before:
If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.
A theist and I carried the analogy of stamp collection as religion further on Google+. Some might say too far. I thought I'd share.
Theist: I have been informed that there is a Google+ community for Atheism. I'm not sure what would be discussed in such a community, since atheism is about not subscribing to something. 
I don't collect stamps, so I think I will start a Google+ community for those of us who don't collect stamps. We can all log in and't collect stamps, I guess? ...and....ummm...maybe make fun of those who do ... ?
Me: If stamp collectors decided those that didn't want to collect stamps were less moral people and the collector's handbook claimed some were going to hell and the collector club's top positions discriminated against women and gays, I imagine a group of non collectors would form in protest. 
Theist: At that moment, the stamp collectors would probably inform the non-stamp collectors that they don't know what they're talking about and that maybe they should read the collector's handbook using proper hermeneutics instead of behaving like a fundamentalist stamp collector. 
Me: The stamp collection hobby has broken into so many different organizations, each with different hermeneutics of said handbook and some with entirely different handbooks or handbook companions that it's too hard to tell what the price of a stamp is these days. 
Theist: Then I guess some research will be required before commenting on what stamp collecting is or isn't and what the price of a stamp should be. 
Me: True, but since so many are moving to email, I doubt stamps will continue to be relevant enough in developed countries to take up collecting in the first place. They will probably be lost to history like other antiquated means of communication like the pony express and carrier pigeons.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I’ve been playing the strangest game. It’s not “fun” in the traditional sense. In fact, it's quite frustrating, especially at the end, which I’ll get into later. I’ve clocked in enough play time that every new game results in the interactive equivalet of a re-run. Funny thing is, it didn’t take much play time to realize I was in for this kind of monotony. There’s a term for what this game is lacking--replay value. I’ve basically been playing a remedial Street Fighter. There is a button to jab, kick, block...and that’s it. There’s no cool button combinations, no hadouken, I just grind until the anticlimatic end. There’s no knockout, just an end. Game over, roll credits...I lose. Inexplicably, the game says I lose--even though the game’s difficulty is stuck on easy, my score progressive rises, and my opponent never lands a punch.

This is how I feel debating theists. It’s always the same debunked arguments and empty rhetoric, easily blocked and parried. I can not concieve of any flaw in my logic, yet I’m told it is faulty. I see myself as the clear winner, and yet I lost to apologetic eyes. I ask (often) why I seek out this conflict. Is injecting a little rational medicine into apologetic sites and forums my version of missionary work? Yes, I believe we’ll all be atheists one day, but I’m tired of waiting. I want to be the catalyst...but the meds don’t take. Their brains reject it. So why bother?

An afterward for atheists reading this post: I know, I know, I’m planting a seed in their brain that may one day grow into a sanity tree. Or maybe someone more "on the fence" in regards to religion is watching my seemingly fruitless debate and sides with me. I can dig it. It’s still fucking frustrating.

An afterward for theists reading this post: I know I’m not making any points here--for those, check my other posts. The analogy presented doesn’t represent these debates, just my subjective feelings about them. Basically, I’m venting. I’m sure you get frustrated too. Just...consider that you could be wrong. Please? For me? After you’re done considering, we can debate again another day.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

CSI: Reality

From time to time, a creationist will present me with a bit of evidence that doesn’t fit with previous findings in regard to evolution. In their mind this debunks the entire field of study. I disagree. For the sake of argument, lets say the new finding that suddenly interests the creationist is valid. What does this mean?

Analogy time.

Think about a crime scene. Behind the police tape you find a bullet hole in the wall and shells on the ground. There’s a smear of blood and a strain of hair, both of which DNA evidence proved invaluable in identifying our suspect. There are footprints of dried mud leading to and from the victim, who’s remains show signs of a struggle. The detective dusts for finger prints and none are found outside those of the victim and our suspect.

A witness watched a man matching the description of the suspect entering the crime scene at 7 pm and leaving at 7:30 pm. The witness was aware of these specific times because the window in which he noticed the suspect is directly next to his TV which began and ended the nightly news during the same time frame.

Open-and-shut case, right? This forensic dream is like the body of evidence for evolution. I’m tempted to include a confession from our metaphorical suspect. The only thing missing is the smoking gun, which would be equivalent to scientists witnessing macroevolution in progress. (or if you are a theist who thinks abiogenesis is a part of evolution, I guess life-from-nonlife could be the smoking gun.)
Let's go back to the hypothetical new finding my creationist friend pimped. In the grand scheme of evidence it would be as if the nightly news started at 7:05pm that night, moving the suspect’s arrival time back slightly. If the theist was a juror trying our suspect, do you think he would throw out the entire case because the defense could prove a minor time discrepancy? No, he saves the baby throwing for when the bath water contradicts his world view.

Sorry, I have a metaphor mixing problem. I’m in a 12-step program.

If a new finding surfaces that brings into question an aspect of our current model, we adjust it. That’s science. The religious have a hard time grasping this because the foundation for their beliefs are based on ancient texts rather than a progression towards the truth. To reject evolution, one must commit to the belief of a conspiracy in which all of academia are in the pocket of an anti-theist shadow pact with the capabilities to counterfeit evidence beyond our current technology. So either get with the program or explain yourself.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Church of the Pigskin

Football season is upon us! (American, not soccer) I love this time of year. It is a time to gather with friends and share the common experience of rooting for your team. It's infectious.

I hope this confession doesn't revoke my man-card, but I didn't get into sports spectating until college. A big reason for this is because I was never that in to sports performing either. A combination of laziness and anti-social behavior kept me in my shell until the needed quantity of Jack Daniels and fellowship was applied. At the University of Georgia, it was near impossible to not identify as a "dawg." I rooted for Georgia because everyone rooted for Georgia. It was the culture and I fucking liked it.

The college football culture is so strong in the south that whenever someone says "I'm a Georgia fan" or "I love Alabama" or "Let's go Florida" it is understood that they aren't talking about the state--they are talking about the universities, more specifically the athletic programs. This may not be a ringing endorsement for the region at large, but the conversational fact is that one's sports team is often indistinguishable from one's location. Hell, this time of year, it's one's identity.

Oh, wait, this is an atheist blog, right?

It occurs to me that people's obsession on this or that team relies on one of two factors the vast majority of the time. You root for team "X" because you either are geographically located near team "X" or your parents root for team "X." What do you think the percentages are that the same two factors play a heavy role for religious preference? Do most people you know practice the same faith as their parents? That may be anecdotal evidence, but statistics show this as well. It's impossible to argue that Hinduism isn't primarily practiced in Indian. Muslims and Christians have spread out some, but stick together just the same. "Jewish" as a term is so intrenched in cultural heritage that it identifies ethnicity every bit as much as faith. And I thought sports franchises and locations were interchangeable, Judaism has taken it to a whole new level.

You probably think it's silly for me to say that the Georgia Bulldogs are the objectively right team, but that is what the religious are saying. It's important to consider that belief in Jehova, Yahweh, Allah, or Vishnu is more dependent on convenience than correctness. If you have to believe in something, make it the dawgs!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Alpha & Beta

My dog, Alpha
I got a dog the other day, his name’s Alpha. I really went all out accommodating the pooch. I made the entire house a canine playground. I put a different bowl of food in every room. I installed ramps so that every inch of furniture could be his domain. I maxed out my treat budget. Seriously, all I ever heard where squeak toys. I even gave Alpha a friend, a female named Beta. They were good dogs.

“Were” being the operative word. I told Alpha and Beta that the only thing in the house that was off limits, was my lucky tennis ball. I pointed at the ball and said “no!” They saw me do this on more than one occasion, but the little buggers couldn’t help themselves. I don’t think she knew I was watching, but Beta brought my ball over to play with Alpha and they launched it right out the window.

Disobedience is something I do not tolerate! I removed all the food and treats from the house. I threw out the ramps and fenced off their “fun rooms.” Their toys? They went straight into the trash. From then on, I made Alpha work for his food. Beta too. To remind them of their indiscretion, I installed traps randomly around the house--a snare here, a foothold there. Some would hurt the animals and others would just cage them for a while. I even drip a little rat poison in their food occasionally. There’s no rhyme or reason to it really, I’m just keeping them on their toes.

Sure, it’s within my power to buy new tennis balls, actually I already have another, but that won’t teach any lessons. I plan on continuing this punishment for the rest of their lives. Come to think of it, I better keep it up for their offspring and any other pets I may bring into the house. Alpha and Beta’s single disobedience should be felt for all future generations.

Don’t call PETA on me, this is an analogy. I don’t want to overstate the obvious, but on topics of religion I’ve learned that clarity matters, so here I go.
  • The narrator/dog owner = God
  • Alpha and Beta = Adam and Eve
  • The house pre-disobedience = The Garden of Eden
  • The tennis ball = The Tree of Knowledge
  • The house post-disobedience = Earth
  • The traps, poisons and other canine dangers = Natural evil (earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanoes, etc.)
If you don’t think of the narrator as a loving and forgiving master, than you probably shouldn’t be a huge fan of God either. The good news? You don’t need to hate God because this fable of pet ownership is no more imaginary than the fable of Genesis. There is no one to hate.

I could carry this story to it’s illogical, yet Biblical, conclusion. A few generations later the master might sacrifice a dog in order to atone for Alpha and Beta’s original sin, but why bother? It’s not like dogs go to heaven.