Archive for the ‘9/11’ Category

More Atheistic Feelings

November 1, 2006

In the last post, I tried to give religious people some insight into how it feels to be an atheist. Rereading it, it’s a little dry and abrasive. Sorry. I’ll just keep spilling these thoughts out until I get something that feels like I want it to. Let’s try again.
From the perspective of an atheist, the world is a scary place. Actually, that’s not quite true. The world is an awe inspiring place. It’s people that are scary. The scariest thing about them is that they’re willing to fight, kill and die over fairy tales. It’s hard to communicate that concept clearly, but to an atheist all religiously motivated actions seem deluded. The attacks on the WTC on 9/11 are a chilling example. The guys who flew into the WTC believed an eternal paradise awaited them as a result. Most reasonable people would think that’s just a tad crazy. They’d be right. However, are Christian beliefs about Heaven more rational? Hell no! Christianity has effectively the same setup. Perform action X while alive and you’ll get a pass into eternal realm Y. It’s the same damn thing. Usually the Christian version doesn’t involve killing people with different beliefs, but that tolerance is a very modern development.

It’s not that atheists can’t understand the pull of religion. We can. Who wouldn’t want access to an eternal paradise? That would be fantastic. We understand the comfort that religion can bring. Whenever someone I care about dies, I always want to believe they’ve gone to a “better place”. However, wishing doesn’t make it so. “No.  Rover isn’t dead Jimmy, he’s gone to a big farm in the country where he gets to play all day with other dogs and have fun”. Valid for kids, but at some point adults shouldn’t need the crutch any more.

God is, ultimately, an adult version of Santa Claus. Behave well and you’ll be rewarded, screw up and you miss you out.

Something that I’ve always wondered about is why religious people believe they have the moral high ground. Aren’t they really just behaving because they believe they’re being watched by the big guy upstairs? Atheists don’t have that to fall back on. We behave because our morals are deeper than that. We’re not afraid of being punished or angling for some sort of reward. We behave morally because it feels like the right thing to do. Religion is completely unnecessary (and is regularly in opposition) to having good moral character.

The deepest problem that I, as an atheist, have with religion is the crushing effect it has on critical thinking. Critical thinking is crucial to running a democratic nation. Many of the problems we’re going through at the moment appear to stem from the fact that the nation isn’t critical enough to elect a smarter leader. Religion teaches you not to question things. It teaches you to accept them on faith. You’re supposed to be okay with fairy stories in the absence of evidence. It’s particularly scary when you think about the amount of effort devoted by religious people to discrediting evolution. People should think critically as a general rule. Religion is directly in opposition to that and it’s a huge problem.

Advertisements

Profanity

October 13, 2006

Damn.  Shit.  Fuck.  Cunt.

They’re all “offensive” words.  So how come they don’t offend me?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  I’ve come to the realization that individual words don’t offend me.  Intent can offend me.  Words are just … well …. you know, words.

Isn’t it vastly more offensive to verbally assault someone than to swear?  Isn’t malicious, vicious, hurtful intent more offensive than swearing?  Words can hurt.  Words can be offensive.  It’s just that the words commonly deemed to be profanity are not really offensive at all.  How these words came to be offensive no longer matters.  They are now offensive simple because that’s the way it is.

Think about it.  To people who don’t speak English, there is nothing offensive about the configuration of letters that make up the word “fuck”.  Nothing at all.  There’s nothing offensive about the phonetic structure of the word.  The sound it makes when I say it doesn’t offend anyone who has never heard the word before.  This is because there is absolutely nothing that’s inherently offensive about the word itself.  It’s a grouping of letters, much like any other grouping of letters.

The only reason you know it’s offensive is because you were taught that it’s offensive.  It’s really not.  The most offensive language I hear doesn’t involve profanity.  Take the hateful bile that spills from Ann Coulter’s mouth.  None of her publicly available comments (at least the ones that I’ve read) contain profanity.  Yet I find them deeply offensive.  They would be no more or less offensive if they included profanity.  It just wouldn’t matter.

Normally people’s closed mindedness doesn’t bother me that much.  However, I watched 9/11 on CBS the other night.  Actually, that’s not quite true, I watched it on the web.  I watched it, in large part, because the AFA (American Family Association) had circulated a petition against it.  The petition was apparently created due to the profanity in the documentary.  I watched it.  The profanity I recall is someone saying “Holy shit!” about five or six times as one of the towers came crashing down.  Someone else might have said “this shit is fucked up” later in the movie.  Maybe it was “That’s fucking sick!”, I don’t really recall.

I am repulsed by this petition.  It was designed to stop the showing of a tribute to the true heroes of 9/11.  Yeah, they swear.  So fucking what?  They rushed up into a burning building that eventually crashed down around them.  They risked (and many gave) their lives to save others.  The AFA gets its panties in a bunch because in the shock of it all there was swearing?  Are you fucking kidding me?  The heroism was in your face.  The documentary was amazing.  It almost makes me cry that someone wants to prevent it being screened.  It’s insulting.  I’ve heard the term “unamerican” bandied around a lot lately.  You want to find something unamerican?  Look for people who try to stifle free speech.  There’s a pretty good chance you’ll find some unamerican shit under the same rock they’re hiding under.

I’m guessing, given the shtick used on the AFA website, that they’re “worried about the kids”.  I got a news flash for ya, jag offs.  Kids already know all these words.  All of them.  You’re not keeping it away from anybody.  You’re not making a difference.

There’s a TV series called “Battlestar Galactica” that’s a remake of a series I watched when I was a kid.  It’s set far in the future when humanity has colonized space.  Their profanity appears to be the word “frack”.  Now to understand the usage of this word, it appears to be usable in all cases where present day people would use the word “fuck”.  What the frack was that?  Oh frack, I’m hit!  Frack this, I’m outta here!  Stuff like that.  The funniest thing about it is that it doesn’t offend anyone who is watching it.  The word, for all intents and purposes is “fuck”.  However, because some of the letters have been changed, it’s not offensive to us.  Think about that.  How does that make any sense?

You want offensive words?  Drugs.  Terror.  War.  Lies.  Distrust.  Crime.   Poverty.  Illiteracy.  Racism.  These words offend me.  They offend me because they’re real problems.  Stop wasting my fucking time with your bullshit petition you petty minded little fucks.  Do me a fucking favor.  Solve some real issues and forget about words that offend you simply because they’re “offensive”.  I said above that the AFA isn’t making any difference at all on this issue.  I’ve realized that it’s because the issue they’re addressing is the wrong one.  They are completely missing the point about what constitutes offensive language.  Until they get that straight, they’ll continue being irrelevant and vastly more offensive than anything they’re trying to censor.

So as far as I’m concerned AFA are a damned cunting pack of jag offs who have shit for brains and can go fuck themselves.  I sincerely hope they find that offensive.