Posts Tagged ‘Skepticism’

h1

It is inevitable

January 7, 2014

By the time I’d spent a few months on Daily Kos, I figured it wouldn’t last for me. I don’t seem to possess the requisite hostility to put up with the environment indefinitely. I value causes more than in-fighting. But like a 24-hour news cycle, you can dispense with the petitions and peruse donation requests in a few minutes, which still leaves you with the rest of the day to fill up.

I’ve seen partisans on both sides of debates over whether Obama is a saint or an abomination – they’re all Democrats, but somehow they find reasons to war bitterly over things we can’t control. I’ve seen the ‘liberal’ gun enthusiasts, who try so hard to connect liberal values with anarchic gun rights and fail, troll and bait and drive off whoever gets in their way. And yesterday, I was amused to see religious privilege put so plainly it made me laugh, even as that community now seeks to drive off virulent skeptics.

If the goal of this blog were to express antireligious sentiment, I would never have come here. If you want a blog that is comfortably intolerant of religion, by all means go find one! I’m sure there are many. Intolerance of religion has never been an official or unofficial element of Daily Kos.

A comment from a believer taking offense at religion-bashing. Not xian-bashing or muslim-bashing (hell, people get away with the latter some days) but calling religion a problem. Or like the way Hitchens put it that religion poisons everything. I don’t have the same fire for the battle that I used to, but I have yet to find redeeming qualities to it that are not incidental, that cannot be found elsewhere. And yet so many believers will take offense on behalf of their religion. They seek to identify with their religion, to claim it as their identity the same way the color of their skin or their sexual preference is part of their identity.

Well, certainly people are born with their skin, subject to some change perhaps. And at least there’s data suggesting sexual preference is inborn. But religion? There’s not even compelling evidence for the ‘god gene,’ much less anything convincing about being ‘born’ xian or muslim or … whatever. Even a predilection for god-belief, however misguided, has to find a vehicle through which to manifest. And what is that going to be, but whatever religion hooks them first? Most likely, whatever religion their parents are taught to instill, because it’s so much easier to indoctrinate children.

Get ’em while they’re young. Works for cigarettes too, or so I’m told.

We Democrats have always prided ourselves on our big tent. One of the things that has prevented us from winning as many victories the past several decades has been a perceived intolerance of religion. I would suggest therefore that demonstrating tolerance for people of faith is one way the Democratic Party can expand its electoral victories.

So this commenter raised this question for me. A ridiculous question, but I’ll see if I can find an opportunity to ask it anyway, because I empathize with pragmatism and that’s what this is, a call to pragmatism. Maybe the premises aren’t all true, or maybe it’s not important enough to appease the religious majority by silencing skeptics. Or maybe it’s pointless, because of free speech someone will always speak up. But I want to ask the admins, seriously. Bashing religion is not the same as bashing people, although believers try so hard to equate it with bigotry and prejudice and shame people into silence.

They’re the ones that should be ashamed of themselves for trying to drive people off, but they obviously value their own hurt feelings more than mine. Big shocker.

Should skeptics be silent about religion in order to placate believers? Should we play along with the religious majority? Does the stated goal of Daily Kos, to elect more and better Democrats, mean we endorse this oppression of the non-religious minority by the religious majority? This actual exercise in intolerance, in bigotry, as opposed to the loud plaintive claims of the believers? Should I really get lost and find somewhere else to read and chat, some other outlet for supporting Democrats? I mean to find out. And while the believers claim such painful alienation when their precious religious beliefs are attacked, I’m already alienated enough to have stopped writing there, for months. Work slowed down enough for some new writing a while ago; I just haven’t bothered. And I already get enough email about petitions and causes to donate to. Maybe it is time to go.

So, this is more or less a reminder to self to raise the question at the next opportunity. I already know what I’d do, personally – that intolerant xian hypocrite can piss off. Take those wounded sensibilities and shove it with the actual oppression. They’re so oblivious that they complain about oppression of their ideas while trying to really drive me out of the community. Who is worse off, the ‘second class’ citizen in perception or the exile? But I’m a pragmatic sort. I’m curious to see if this fellow is an outlier or more representative of the community.

h1

No u

March 5, 2013

Just a quick lol for Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Association, for taking so many years to finally invoke the NO U response.

During his Monday Focal Point radio broadcast, Bryan Fischer insisted that liberals were modern “Pharisees,” a Jewish sect which was depicted as self-righteous and hypocritical in the New Testament of the Bible.

“You know who the American Taliban is?” he asked his listeners. “It’s secular fundamentalists because they are the one that want to remove all mention of Jesus from the public square… and they’re the Taliban. The Taliban wants to do the same thing. Taliban wants to drive Christ and any mention of Christ and drive Christians from the public square.”

“So, who is the Taliban today, who are the Pharisees today? Freedom From Religion Foundation, ACLU and secular fundamentalists all across the fruited plain.”

Meanwhile, skeptics have been using American Taliban to refer to, well, folks like Bryan Fischer, since the outbreak of the war in Afghanistan. There’s a good reason why The Raw Story shares the Bryan Fischer video clip from Right Wing Watch. Fischer is quite the regular there, and for good reason.

So, grats for taking so long to go with NO U.

h1

You will know fear!

March 5, 2013

[Since I have seen the Sha of Fear (and beaten him in LFR, but then who hasn’t), it seemed appropriate to include a reference to the bastich in today’s presentation of NRA fear-mongering.]

Another physical manifestation of terror

The NRA seems to have recognized its weakness on universal background checks for buying guns, as their spokesmen made the rounds yesterday, trying to reinforce their campaign of fear-mongering against this popular gun control policy. Undeterred by the demonstrable falsity of their claims, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and Ronnie Barrett, an NRA board member and manufacturer of his namesake sniper rifle, preached messages of conspiracy theory and revisionist history, aiming to frighten any doubting conservatives, gun owners or NRA members back into line.

With three-quarters of NRA members supporting background checks, their leaders have some work to do, since they’re evidently not going to follow the will of their own membership.

*****

Let’s begin to face the peril with Wayne on Fox & Fringe, er, that is, Varney & Company on the Fox Business channel. Stuart Varney obligingly pretended to play devil’s advocate, offering a position in favor of background checks while doing nothing to counter LaPierre’s arguments. I guess he personified the straw man.

LAPIERRE: It is a huge waste of money. It’s going to be selectively enforced. It’s going to be abused. And the worst thing, you’re creating a registry of all the law-abiding people in the country that own firearms. I know the politicians say, “Hey, we’ll never use that list to confiscate.” That’s a pretty darn tall order to believe a promise from people in this town right now.

Media Matters goes on to explain, yet again, how the NRA chooses to ignore the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA), the law they worked to pass, which forbids the creation of a federal gun registry. It’s this law which has created the sticking point in Senate negotiations, as Republicans resist any kind of record-keeping — and as Democrats try to find an effective alternative to a federal agency.

The Raw Story also notes Wayne’s appearance on Fox Business, pointing out his empathic commentary on the mentally ill…

“It’s a speed bump for the law-abiding,” he said in an interview with Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney. “It has no effect in the real world on stopping crime or keeping mental defectives from committing horrible acts.”

LaPierre goes on to claim that HIPAA laws and privacy laws will prevent would-be mass shooters from being entered into the system for psychological issues. This NRA article of faith, as usual, is demolished by the facts. As can be seen in this helpful infographic from the Center for American Progress, of the nearly 2 million people blocked from purchasing guns via NICS background checks, 1.1% are categorized as “severely mentally ill.” They cite FBI data on adjudicated mental health reasons for denial, and that percentage translates into 10,690 people who tried and were stopped from buying a gun.

Mind you, this is the current, flawed, incomplete record-keeping system that President Obama and Democrats in Congress are trying to reform and improve. This system that Wayne LaPierre claims isn’t stopping anybody, in reality, has stopped almost 2 million people.

I find it interesting, if a bit odd, that the likes of Wayne LaPierre continues to rain down abuse and trash-talk on the mentally ill. It doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the NRA business model. Then again, considering the NRA’s desired result of no new gun laws, maintenance of the status quo, ever more gun proliferation, and of course profits for gun manufacturers…

All right then, don’t tell me that it’s too perilous. Let’s have just a little bit more peril. In the form of Ronnie Barrett, CEO of Barrett Firearms Manufacturing and a member of the board of the NRA. Yes, when I see an NRA board member on an NRA sponsored TV show, I see just another NRA spokesman. Barrett’s history of gun manufacturing and sales is…interesting, perhaps worth a moment to read that wiki article. This is another company who refuses to sell to law enforcement, specifically in California, as punishment for their state’s law against the company’s .50 caliber rifles.

In Ronnie’s case, he appeared on the NRA’s Cam & Company show on the Sportsman Channel. This NRA propaganda vehicle is often featured on Media Matters, and in my diaries for that matter. So here we go again, as Barrett compares gun laws to Nazi Germany and predicts genocide…

Ronnie Barrett, defender of liberty

BARRETT: In all of history when this kind of stuff has happened before, it’s bad news. You know and I hate to be one of these doomsday guys, but in past things like this result in the death of millions. You know, and World War II hasn’t been 700 years ago, it’s only been 70 years ago. And if people don’t think that these things don’t happen to modern, progressive, Christian nations like Germany was, they’re wrong, brother, I mean we’re sitting here just nearly repeating the same past of that, the disarming of the citizenry not based on any facts but based on cynical emotions that are put in and rushed through in the middle of the night before anybody has a chance to study the true facts, before their citizenry even knows what’s going on. I mean holy smokes, what kind of state government was that? I can’t believe that’s one of the members of the Union here, one of the members of our Republic. It’s just unimaginable.

Compare this to the previous video of Wayne and Stuart tut-tutting about the confiscation of guns in the United Kingdom. How about that, anyway? A law was passed there in 1997, which banned private gun ownership almost completely. Surprisingly, years later — 10 years since the full effect of the law was achieved — no genocide. Wondrous. Well, it could be Barrett is just mad with them because his company used to supply sniper rifles to the IRA; I suppose Barrett may not be selling many Light Fifties there now. And in some previous work, I’ve gone over the revisionist history used by the NRA to falsely compare gun control legislation to the Nazis. Actual history shows that the gun laws in Germany were much more strict, prior to the Nazi regime, and that the 1938 law signed by Hitler deregulated guns for most Germans, while prohibiting gun ownership for Jews and some other persecuted classes. To quote again the historian Salon consulted on the matter:

“Their assertion that they need these guns to protect themselves from the government — as supposedly the Jews would have done against the Hitler regime — means not only that they are innocent of any knowledge and understanding of the past, but also that they are consciously or not imbued with the type of fascist or Bolshevik thinking that they can turn against a democratically elected government, indeed turn their guns on it, just because they don’t like its policies, its ideology, or the color, race and origin of its leaders.”

Of course, Wayne wants his flock to believe the myth that they are a persecuted class, even as he barks about gun laws unfairly treating a hundred million gun owners. A hundred million people, as a persecuted minority class? Wayne’s absurdities don’t stand up to scrutiny. What he’s counting on, though, is a lack of scrutiny. From gun owners, from the NRA membership, and a lack of scrutiny from the media won’t hurt his chances either. Which is why I value Media Matters’ work, and make such frequent use of it. Let some light shine on these hectoring blackcoats and their false dogma. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, so the saying goes.

h1

A shot across the bow of mythology

January 22, 2013

Although this also touches on the topic of skepticism, this is more a political article, so I put it on Daily Kos today. It may also start a fight, since the myth is the centerpiece of the RKBA (right to keep and bear arms) group on DK, which actively fights on the side of gun enthusiasts and the NRA. That last part is coincidental. They all profess to hate the NRA, just about — when cornered. But they hold to a belief which seems to be a myth, so…oh well. They are a part of the church of the NRA. Whether they are priests or sheep, myths need busting.

h1

The delusion they’ll never live down

January 16, 2013

Yesterday I had one of those rare points of disagreement with someone I respect greatly. And since the subject is about damaging the coalition that leads to progress in our country politically, it seems better to put my answer here instead of there. Warning: it is rather long. That may be a problem. If so, just go “TL;DR” and check out this lolcat, then go on your merry way.

So, here is the relevant chunk of the article in question. It’s about Martin Luther King Jr., about whom I can’t help but have some mixed feelings, since it was religion that guided him to some good goals, but his claims about religion and the bible are still questionable. On balance I can only wish that I could do as much good with my life, because I never will.

The black church is still the center of much black life, and leadership is still drawn from it. Few of our churches are uni-class. We may attend service and be sitting in the same pew with a housemaid or day laborer.

Even those who moved away from Christianity, gathered around other preachers—like Malcolm.

The lesson I learn when I look at the face of young Martin, is that he could have been any black child I see today. One of those black children missing no one pays attention to.  One of those black children murdered by stray gunfire. One of those black children who winds up in the school to prison pipeline. One of those black kids headed off to Sunday school.

I am also reminded (no matter my own non-christian persuasion) that those on the left who deride religion and spiritual faith openly on forums such as these, do little to forge the coalitions we need to move forward.

For many on the left who pride themselves in their openly militant atheism—poor whites and their churches and revival meetings are merely objects of scorn. There is vocal derision of evangelicals, yet one of the most powerful progressive voices we hear today is that of Rev. William Barber, head of the N.C. NAACP, an evangelical pastor.

The fact that you don’t believe is your business. Mocking those that do disses many members of our most solid and stable Democratic Party voting block.

Young Martin’s family was guided by their strong spiritual belief. This is true in many black families.

So when you quote or cite the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remember young Martin.

Before you post remarks categorizing all people of faith as delusional, remember young Martin.

Before we get swept away in the celebrations to come—look at his young face. Then look at the faces of young black school kids.

Celebrate our children today.

Accept that many are growing up as he did.

Guided by faith.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There’s some irony to be sure — if only religious belief, or the lack thereof, could be simply our business. How hard is it to swap a few words from his speech, after all.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their belief in god (or lack thereof) but by the content of their character.

Dismissing atheism as simply my business is to dismiss the discrimination that goes on in this country. Whether it’s the latest silly uproar about some nativity display or monument to the Ten Commandments, or the new House rep from Arizona, Kyrsten Sinema, who seems comfortable with being an ‘out’ bisexual but not an ‘out’ skeptic, to the point that she’s officially dodging the question and refusing the label. She knows that skeptics in Congress are damned rare — Pete Stark was the last, and he lost last year — and she knows that label can damage her. The next Republican opponent could well campaign against her on the issue, and probably will in spite of her obfuscation. Here, in Arizona? You bet! I will try to remember this so I can report back next year.

At the same time, comparing the current lot of the American skeptic to the discrimination and outright violence that black folks still suffer to this day diminishes their experience; that dismisses it to some degree, I think. So, it’s tempting to buy into that reconstruction from ‘I Have a Dream,’ but no. It’s not that bad. Not nearly. We may now have a black President while the prospect of having an atheist President in my lifetime seems…ridiculous, impossible. But we’re not prone to being attacked and murdered even now, as the ‘stand your ground’ laws have permitted in Florida, for example. Gun enthusiasts may argue, of course they would argue with that. But, like it or not, successful or not, Floridians have taken that law to mean open season if they feel threatened. As a result of their own racism, for example.

Still. This statement questions my openly militant atheism — which is kind of laughable in itself, ‘openly militant atheism’ — wow, we question nonsensical beliefs and attack religious conservatives who discriminate and legislate and work to punish women, gays, minority groups — that’s what counts for militant these days. I kind of scoff at the very notion of being a militant, like it does not do the word justice. The militant muslim, in Bangladesh, attacks an open ‘militant’ atheist and tries to stab the skeptic to death for the crime of blogging. That’s no joke, but perhaps the comparison is! The militant christian, in America, Scott Roeder, shoots and murders Dr. George Tiller for the crime of performing abortions. Protestants led the KKK. And us joker atheists, damn our hides, we discomfit you. We offend you. Wow. Thin skinned much eh?

And yet my atheism, speaking out against religiously inspired discrimination and suffering and violence, that’s militant and damaging to the coalition. I shouldn’t speak out against evangelicals because some of them are nice people whose religion coincidentally leads them to do good things. Well, you know what? I’ve never spoken out against Rev. William Barber, give it some time and I could probably find something…but I doubt it. I choose my targets with care and they deserve the attention I give them. And if guilt by association is enough to damage our coalition, then perhaps these evangelicals should think twice about those with whom they associate.

Not every skeptic speaks out with discretion, though. I understand that. I agree about the damage some skeptics do, and, hell. On DK I’ve had to help drive off one such fellow and helped get him banned (this diary was one good example of the skeptic going too far). That was truly a bizarre experience, but in the end I let the site rules dictate what to do. However much I would have liked to sympathize with a fellow skeptic, he made it real hard to.

Even I may shoot my mouth off a bit much for the DK community, I guess that’s why I’m writing here and sometimes I refuse to speak my mind there. I seem to have been lucky so far, I’ve only spotted one hide rate on anything I ever wrote, and that one’s just funny. I got dinged in retaliation for attacking someone who used the racist epithet ‘Uncle Tom’. That guy was so in the wrong, I don’t even fret about it.

Ok, finally. On the topic of delusion. I think it’s fair to say at this point that this idea, which I think dates back to 2006 and The God Delusion, is one where Dawkins kinda stepped in it. You can read above about “categorizing all people of faith as delusional”. And I know from experience, over the years since, that most people take it in the psychological meaning…

1
: the act of deluding: the state of being deluded
2
a: something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagatedb: a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary; also: the abnormal state marked by such beliefs
Unfortunately the word is associated with mental illness, so that’s how people take it. Guilt by association again, I suppose.

A delusion is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.[1] As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, confabulation, dogma, illusion, or other effects of perception.

Delusions typically occur in the context of neurological or mental illness, although they are not tied to any particular disease and have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both physical and mental). However, they are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, paraphrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.

But I have his book, and I’ve read it, and Dawkins pulls out his dictionary and provides for what he meant, “a false belief or impression”. He concurs with a definition that looks much like the first sentence from the Wiki article. However, he also quotes Robert Pirsig from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.”

It’s hard for me to argue against that point. Hard for anyone, I would say. And so the last recourse is simply to find it offensive. Cases like Martin Luther King Jr. serve as examples of religion being put to good use. And yet, he was a Baptist; and the Baptists, I find, have a checkered past in this country.

Slavery in the 19th century became the most critical moral issue dividing Baptists in the United States. Struggling to gain a foothold in the South, after the American Revolution, the next generation of Baptist preachers accommodated themselves to the leadership of southern society. Rather than challenging the gentry on slavery and urging manumission (as did the Quakers and Methodists), they began to interpret the Bible as supporting the practice of slavery and encouraged good paternalistic practices by slaveholders. They preached to slaves to accept their places and obey their masters. In the two decades after the Revolution during the Second Great Awakening, Baptist preachers abandoned their pleas that slaves be manumitted.[18]

Religion might seem like an utterly beneficent influence in the context of MLK, but it’s not hard to look a little further back — or forward — and find it problematic instead. It’s interesting to consider the matter of interpretation that took place amongst Baptists trying to spread into the South. A hell of a thing to do, actually. Rather than stand on principle, they abandoned that principle, reinterpreted, and grew popular; and the bible, their holy book, has enough contradictions in it regarding slavery that they could actually do it. For every instance of abolitionist rhetoric

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

…there is another to support the institution of slavery

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

Now, I would bet that Martin Luther King Jr. gave this some thought. And at least his Baptist religion at that point in history had learned from that mistake. Religion can have a good influence on society. Those who are guided by faith may turn out well. But this is not inevitable. Being guided by faith does not always result in good outcomes. At best, it is a guess, a shot in the dark — that is the essence of faith, after all, as even MLK’s quote above explains. Faith is no guarantee of good results. Good intentions, perhaps. Yes, well. The religious have a saying about that, too.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

I reserve my worst mockery not for beliefs, but the horrible actions they inspire. We are entitled to believe what we want, but acting on it, that’s different, as religious users of peyote in this country have learned on occasion. Again — if this guilt by association offends, I suggest the believer reconsider that association. If it is bothersome to be catholic while the RCC covers up the scandal of pedophilia, if conservative evangelicals seek to pass laws to punish women for having sex, if right-wing religious nuts effectively murder their children by forbidding them simple modern medicines and choose prayer instead — the problem is not the believer’s offended sensibilities!

What’s the difference, anyway, between the likes of MLK and the case of Kara Neumann, who died of undiagnosed diabetes when her parents refused to seek medical help and chose prayer instead? In both cases we see people guided by faith. But one of them led to convictions of second-degree reckless homicide.

For my part, I will continue to choose my targets with care and criticize bad actions over mere beliefs, even if the beliefs are often disgusting. Eternal suffering in hell, for example. But I’ll try to be careful and focus on the real world and the consequences of religious beliefs. Hopefully, in return, those who are guided by faith will take it under advisement how little difference there is between them and the Neumanns.

h1

Guns, lots of guns

January 15, 2013

So, new diary on Daily Kos today as this excellent piece on NRA and Fox sponsored myths about gun control from Media Matters hadn’t popped up in anyone else’s work today. That in itself would have been enough, but it tied into some previous work from over the weekend. It is also fun to work in some angles on skepticism.

I feel obliged to write diaries that are…more substantial, since I noticed Meteor Blades is following me. I feel bad for everyone else that did not so inspire me, heh. Less lolcats, more quality!

h1

On the lack of empathy

December 29, 2012

Since I’ve been on vacation this week (it explains the lack of an online presence), I have not been checking out my usual internet haunts, much. Instead I have been running errands, doing yard work, playing some WoW, that sort of thing. Unfortunately I chose today to see what was going on at Daily Kos.

There’s a pretty strong community of skeptics there, but there are also some nasty believers, and one of them who goes by ‘Timaeus’ apparently exploded late on Thursday evening. I’ve considered the chances that he will come looking for this blog and I figure it’s unlikely. In any case, I am entitled to speak my mind about it here. This space is as mine as any webspace gets. If he does stop by to comment, don’t expect to see it. I have the moderation power here.  🙂

Anyway. He has spent the last day, well, dealing with the fallout of his explosion. And I have seen some folks I otherwise respect engage in some disappointing and selective…empathy.

Anyone who writes up this sort of call-out against skeptics is liable to get some hostile responses…

Of course, the fundamentalist atheists like Sam Harris are gathering like locusts, insulting and attacking and mocking (as you can see if you just google “Eben Alexander”).  They don’t like having their religious faith questioned.  They’re wrong.

He then followed up in the comments by attacking his critics, insulting them, calling them a gang and worse, as if some group of skeptics is out to get him. He has since tried to explain his antics as the result of drunken posting, although he went on insisting that a gang was out to get him, that he didn’t deserve most of what he got. He’s also apparently looking at some risky and painful surgery.

The problem with these excuses, well…I’ve seen this fellow get nasty before, and there was no apparent booze, no stress, no surgery that I knew of, to explain it away. Having observed his behavior for a good while it is all of a piece. He’s hostile to skepticism and skeptics, atheists of course in particular, and a…passionate defender of the catholic church. Since I write about the RCC at times, I have some personal experience with his nastiness.

And yet there are folks willing to give him a pass, chalk it up to stress or alcohol, and even attack the likes of me (however indirectly) for lacking the empathy to let his supposed drunken ranting to slide.

And after all that — what does he apologize for?

My fault.  It’s foolish for me to engage that group. I apologize to everybody for my persistence. There are so many better ways to deal with that kind of criticism, much as I disrespect it.

Persistence. Not that he may have said some offensive, or insulting things, or called out the skeptical community (like always). Nothing about that. Nothing to indicate something…contrite, like…maybe he didn’t mean it. So apparently he did. Which in short puts me in a gang of hypocritical, fundamentalist atheists who nevertheless somehow have faith in their skepticism. In a gang of locusts who lashed out in anger and against the rules of the site, lashed out against a bunch of comments that didn’t merit the response — never mind that they did.

Never mind the subject — near-death experience — with which I have a bit of personal experience, myself. Never mind the year that it shook me, the time it took me to deal with it and move on, no help from…well, almost anyone. I expect the author of this ‘proof of heaven’ book got pretty much what I got. Everyone around more than willing to offer interpretation rather than reason. More than willing to put that experience under their lens of faith and invite him to join in, like they did with me. I nearly did. It’s tempting. The experience is very compelling. It’s hard to describe experiences that are so unreal and yet so indistinguishable from reality. I still struggle with the impulse to read more into it than I should. One person helped me; without her, who knows? I might have joined a blasted church.

But never mind that. Spit on that. Dismiss it out of hand. Condescend, even. Those foolish atheists and their ‘religious faith’.

They don’t like having their religious faith questioned.  They’re wrong.

No, this fellow’s mind conjured up heaven and that simply must be. Never mind that my experience had a different lesson to teach. Dismiss my own. Discard it. Accept the heavenly one. It suits the majority, the xian society. Where was the empathy for me, the understanding, the willingness to let me follow my own path? Sky-fairy forbid! Never mind that. No, instead empathy is corrupted into advice, encouragement, guidance, interpretation; whatever it takes to get me on their path, and all the while I’m sure everyone thinks they’re doing right, they’re showing…empathy.

I suppose this little exercise shows that there’s not much to trust about empathy, as it too is subject to interpretation. It’s my own interpretation that makes me write this here, and not write it up as a diary on Daily Kos, call out this festering catholic pustule and let fly there and damn the consequences. I’m just venting…ranting…in a safer space. I wonder if I would write this there, if I were drunk enough or stressed out. Perhaps it’s better if I don’t find out.

And to think, after all this bitching, moaning, insulting and complaining by the believer, he was defending a foolish book that had this to say.

Dr. Alexander received three key messages from God, several times:  1. We are loved. 2. We have nothing to fear. 3. We can do no wrong.

Yes, all of us can disagree at length with all of that.  Myself, I believe it.

We can do no wrong. The irony, it’s too much! Why complain about some skeptics criticizing him? Why write again just to complain further if they can do no wrong? Well, then. He may insult atheists and basically call me a hypocrite, a skeptic with ‘religious faith’ who gets mad when it’s questioned. He may say that, claim that — baselessly. I at least can settle for demonstrating his hypocrisy. He fails completely at living up to this tenet of ‘we can do no wrong’ that he supposedly believes.

Anyway, won’t be in any big hurry to dive back into DK and start commenting and writing a whole lot just yet. I have some vacation left to enjoy. No sense ruining it further!