You’re at the Wrong Place! Go to zackfordblogs.com!

•October 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Hey there! Thanks for checking out my blog! As of October 2, 2009, ZackFord Blogs is now exclusively found at zackfordblogs.com. Please go there now!! It’s probably a lot more up to date than what you’re reading here!!

(If you’re confused, you’re at zackfordblogs.wordpress.com. My blog is no longer hosted by wordpress.com, so everything since I made the move is only found over at zackfordblogs.com.)

ZFB Upgrades, Google Wave, Pete Berg

•October 1, 2009 • 3 Comments

Hey everybody!

Starting this week, I’m working on a massive overhaul of ZackFord Blogs. The goal is to shed the limitations of WordPress.com to expand the functionality and connectivity of this blog. The new format will be more expanded, and will feature things like advertisements (so I can start to make just a little bit of money for the work I put into this), Google Friend Connect, and Google Wave.

I’m so excited that I am officially a part of Google Wave preview. If you are too, please add me at zackfordblogs@googlewave.com. I’m so excited to explore Google Wave and I anticipate incorporating it into my blogging. As I’ve always said, I created this blog to create dialogue, and if Google Wave makes it easier for people to interact with my blogging, I am all for it. (If you are reading this and wondering, “What the heck is Google Wave?” please click here.)

So, as I dedicate time to reworking the very fabric of ZackFord Blogs, please be patient that there will be less posting than usual. In the meantime, I encourage you to check out some of my best work using “ZFB Highlights” and the various collections listed under my archives to the right. One of these days, you’ll open ZackFord Blogs and it will be a whole lot more awesome than it is now.

petebergIn the meantime, I have to give a shoutout to my buddy Peter Berg. Pete is a huge asset in my life as he assists me in this huge upgrade for ZFB. He knows a lot about hosting and domains and codes and things like that, so however ZFB looks when these upgrades are complete, it’ll definitely be thanks to him. (I think he still feels bad that he let me oversleep when we were roommates at freshmen orientation, but it might just be because he’s an awesome person.)

Since Pete is helping me out, I have to give a nice big shoutout to him and all the wonderful content he publishes through his numerous blogs. Please check out http://www.pieheaven.net/, Six Word Stories (one of my favorites!), and of course, http://www.peteberg.net/.

And to sufficiently embarrass my good friend, here’s a clip of one of his infamous segments on Ithaca College Television (Thanks Pete!):

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Atheism and Religious Beliefs Are NOT And Never Will Be On The Same Page

•September 30, 2009 • 4 Comments

In some recent conversations, including the comment dialogue on my recent “tips for atheists” post, I have come face to face with what I call the “Stalemate” Meme. This is the argument believers make that points of view supporting religious belief have just as much merit as points of view supporting atheist worldviews. The implication, of course, is that if atheists expect respect for what they “believe,” they should offer the same respect for what believers believe.

This is a fallacy, and when people say it, it reveals that they do not understand atheism. Since today is International Blasphemy Day, I thought I would outline (without being smug, hardy har) exactly why, contrary to popular belief (hardy har), atheists are right and believers never will be.

Yeah, that’s right. I said it. Here’s the distinction: the only way a religious belief is true is if a person believes it. Right? Believers admit as much: you gotta have faith. But notice this striking difference. The general tenets of atheism will always be true no matter who believes what. They are not open to interpretation, they don’t rely on intense theology. They are simple facts.

Let’s take a look at them!

There is no and never has been any evidence whatsoever supporting the existence of a supernatural entity.

Yes, this is a fact. Like all scientific theories, it only takes one piece of contrary evidence to change how we think about things, but there is no such evidence for any supernatural entity. If you believe in a supernatural entity, your belief is your only proof, and that isn’t enough. Do you know why?

There is no burden of proof for a negative.

See, atheists don’t have to make an argument against God or Vishnu or Zeus. We couldn’t if we wanted to, but we don’t have to. We don’t have to prove there aren’t unicorns or a Flying Spaghetti Monster, either. None of them exist. An argument against a supernatural entity is solid, and an argument for one is baseless. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s address another one.

There is no and never has been any evidence to support the assumption that people should believe in a supernatural entity.

I get so tired of hearing believers talk about how great it is to believe. “It’s not easy, you have to have courage to have faith.” That’s not courage, my friends. It’s ignorance. But they insist! “You lose nothing by believing. You should believe anyway, just because. What’s the harm?” Actually, my intellectual integrity would be on the line. My susceptibility to stupid ideas would be on the line. I call this the “Just Because” meme, and it’s a total crock. Keep telling yourselves that this is meaningful, but you’re really just conforming to peer pressure.

Now, let’s hammer home just how much higher the burden of proof is for believers.

It is impossible to concretely define the parameters of a supernatural entity.

I don’t think any two Christians could ever 100% agree on how to define God. Who is he? What does he look like? What does he want from humanity? What is his personality? What pleases him? What angers him? What can he do? What does he do? To what extent does he care? How is his power measured? Let’s add some Jews and Muslims to the discussion and see how the conversation changes, even though they all believe in the same Abrahamic God. Heaven forbid (hardy har) we add a couple million Hindus to the debate.

Who is right? If God exists, he is what he is and nothing else, or in the Hindus’ case, they are what they are. It’s not a very convincing argument to expect respect for beliefs when nobody can agree on what to believe. It’s pretty tough to call that “truth,” especially when we atheists don’t have to prove anything for our truth to be true. (Am I sounding smug yet? It doesn’t change the fact that I’m right.)

The existence of any supernatural entity would have to, by any definition, be more improbable than any theory currently being explored by science.

It doesn’t matter how complicated you think evolution or the Big Bang would be, the existence of something that could cause something that improbable would have to be exponentially less probable. (Go read The God Delusion.) That’s why we think you sound stupid whenever you attack scientific theories. This is how that conversation goes:

Believer: “You think all of this could just happen??”
Atheist: “Well, it did, so yeah.”
Believer: “No, it’s too much. Something else must have been responsible.”
Atheist: “And something else that could be responsible isn’t too much?”
Believer “No, God is eternal. Bullshit bullshit bullshit, propaganda propaganda propaganda…”

Sorry, it’s Blasphemy Day, I’m not feeling very censored.

When you think of it, every time believers use God to explain anything, they are making atheists’ case for us. And not to sound redundant, but think about it. Yeah, “it’s hard to believe in God,” but that’s exactly why you shouldn’t. Believing in God isn’t the opposite of believing in science. Science requires NO belief. It’s our best explanations of what we know under concrete definitions and testable conditions. Belief warrants no admiration; it’s offensive. “Yeah? All that stuff we know? It’s not good enough. I’m going to pursue all this made-up stuff because it makes more sense to me.” Then open a science textbook and get a tutor.

Belief will never have the same merit as nonbelief.

Believers will always say, “these issues are so complex, we have to respect each other while we explore them and figure them out.” You can never figure something out that can’t be figured out, so stop trying. We atheists have figured it out. (Reread the post.)

If you’re tired of arguing with atheists, try thinking about what they say. And if I’m smug for making this argument, get over yourself. Belief might make you feel good, but if being wrong doesn’t, there is an easy way to fix that.

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Religion Doesn’t Determine What Homosexuality Is or Isn’t

•September 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Two stories on my radar today; both irritate me.

First, the Catholic Church thinks that it’s reputation for molestation isn’t so bad comparatively, and more importantly, priests are pedophiles, they’re just homosexuals who like young men.

You can just see the conversation when they came up with that. How can we make ourselves look better with all the boy-molesting? Well, let’s just USE it to promote our anti-gay propaganda!

Then, in Kalamazoo, they held a big open forum to discuss whether homosexuality was a sin or not. This is the same Kalamazoo who has been passing and repealing LGBT protections all year long. Now, with a vote approaching on the November ballot, the important question is what the Bible says?

No. It’s a law. What does psychology say? What does justice say? Those questions are not addressed in the Bible, nor should we care if anybody thinks they are.

Religions do not define sexual orientations, much as they might try. Why do we still let them? Why do we still humor them for trying?

It’s not right; it’s not okay. That’s why I write this blog.

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So Why Am I Single???

•September 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Normally I don’t use this blog to promote my personal life, but this was just too good to let go.

okcupidatheistI don’t know why it should piss anybody off. That’s just catering to privilege. But anyways, we’ll forgive them for pandering.

So then…

okcupidmyprofile

So what’s the deal, gentlemen?

Ha! Just kidding. There’s a whole lot more to chemistry than just one piece of a person’s identity. I can’t say I’m personally that surprised that there is a correlation between people using online dating and atheists, especially on a site as open as OKCupid (as opposed to a Christian-patriarchy-influenced site like eHarmony). Let’s just keep on hoping it works out in my favor one of these days!

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Best of My First 1500 Tweets

•September 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I can’t believe it hasn’t even been a full year since I plunged into the social networking deep end. I loved starting my blog and really having a creative outlet for my writing. Twitter was a different adventure, because it challenged my writing in very short form. I thought it would be fun (albeit a bit painstaking) to look back at my first 1500 tweets for some of the best examples of my writing.

I almost forgot that I used to tweet in the 3rd person. I’m glad I don’t do that anymore. It’s easier to be creative when every sentence doesn’t start with your name! It was a fun way to use gender-neutral pronouns. I’ve since decided I’m not going to use them to refer to myself anymore and just use them for when gender is ambiguous or unknown. Between blogging, tweeting, and APA style, I’ve also completely eliminated double spaces after sentences. Who knew half a year of tweets would demonstrate should shifts in creative style?

It seems my personal trending topics were grad school, working on the musical Gypsy (including a slew of live tweets during performances), and of course atheism and LGBT issues! (Also, apparently, not wearing pants. I promise that I never inappropriately didn’t wear pants!)

At any rate, here are some of my favorite tweets or collections of tweets, starting with my very first tweet ever! All of the tweets before July 26th are on Central time, all of the tweets after are on Eastern time, in case you’re curious.

2/4/09 – 3:23 PM – Whoo! I’m on twitter. Now what?

2/15/09 – 9:33 AM – @lukeelmers People want what they can’t have and the Jonas bros. don’t put out. [A reply to “someone please explain to me what is appealing about the Jonas brothers, because I just don’t see it”]

2/23/09 – 8:30 AM – is putting on hir top hat–according to Hugh Jackman, the musical is back! (When did it leave?)

2/24/09 – 8:08 PM – got chocolate vagina on my shirt today. …What? It was the first time I’d ever eaten one!

3/2/09 – 6:48 PM – Whoo! I officially have my own website for my blog! zackfordblogs.com is mine! Take that stupid ZackFordFilms.com!

3/4/09 – 9:43 PM – twisted frosties beat mcflurries anyday.

3/5/09 – 5:02 PM – is not wearing pants and it feels wonderful!

3/6/09 – 3:21 PM – wants to be a weed, not a pretty flower.

3/7/09 – 12:55 AM – I think Dimetapp ruined grape flavor for me for life.

3/7/09 – 10:44 AM – @sixwordstories Rainy Day. Home Alone. Solution? Snuggle.

3/8/09 – 9:22 AM – Ummm…. guess who didn’t get the time change memo! Guess who had a Sunday morning meeting at 9 AM CST! Well isn’t that swell.

3/10/09
7:34 AM – Here we go, DEFENSE, here we go! *clap, clap*
2:03 PM – is apparently going to graduate. Hooray!

3/13/09 – 5:07 AM – It’s 5 AM, and I may have just figured out the past two years of my life. Surely, there is a new recognition that was not there before. Wow.

3/15/09 – 12:28 AM – I wish I had a super hot Miss Piggy in a Heart belt like Taryn. Until I do, my sass shall be inferior. @tarynpack

3/17/09 – 9:39 AM – is in a bar at 9:37 am drinking “green shenanigans” and eating green eggs and ham. happy st. patty’s day! twitpic hopefully coming soon!

3/18/09 – 5:16 PM – just got a call from GoDaddy.com. What great customer service! It almost makes up for all the blatant objectification of women! Almost…

3/24/09 – 5:28 PM – Problem: How to make four hour rehearsals more tolerable. Solution: No Pants. Progress: Mission Accomplished. I’m in rehearsal till 10! Yay!

3/25/09 – 11:45 PM – @tarynpack You wouldn’t have to mow the lawn… but you’d have to live somewhere that had, you know, water. [A reply to “thinking about living on a boat”]

3/26/09 – 9:29 AM – I am, as they say, “cooking with grease,” except for the fact I don’t cook and find grease to be messy and not that great a musical either.

3/28/09 – 9:16 AM – my life is complete again. Laurel’s back in it.

4/2/09 – 10:07 AM – It’s not like I have a bajillion emails or anything.

4/3/09 – 8:46 AM – Thank you, Iowa, for a powerful unanimous decision protecting my civil rights!!!

4/4/09 – 10:23 AM – Living in my old dorm again for the weekend… flipflops in the shower and everything. So awesome… and bizarre…

4/7/09
8:13 AM – My schedule looks deceivingly sparse. It doesn’t include “write a paper by 2” nor “you don’t have time to buy groceries, so keep dreaming!”
10:03 AM – Laurel and I moved to Iowa and Vermont and after two years, Iowa and Vermont have gay marriage. Coincidence? Well, probably, but yay!
10:14 AM – Vermont’s rocking my world today! That definitely wasn’t in my schedule, but HOORAY for legislated equality! Now to write this darn paper!!
11:56 AM – Why the hell is my last paper in grad school a stupid book review? This is dumb. Dear bad pedagogy, I learn nothing from you. Love, Zack.

4/11/09 – 3:20 PM – Confetti is definitely the herpes of theatre effects. Come see Stars Over VEISHEA: Gypsy this Wed. – Sun. at Fisher Theatre!!!

4/12/09 – 5:25 PM – “Theatregasm.” I think that describes my life right now… and it’s amazing. Don’t think I’ve ever been this happy since I moved to Iowa…

4/15/09 – 8:33 AM – Well I feel like crap…but Gypsy opens tonight and I’m not teabagging today, so there are worse things in the world than sleep deprivation.

4/17/09
12:07 PM – http://twitpic.com/3goht – Killing time in the Gypsy pit with sustainable confetti art!
5:25 PM – Whoo! We are sold out tonight! It’s going to be a great show! A very Gypsy weekend…
7:40 PM – Yay! It’s exciting when the audience applauds for the overture!! it’s going to be a fun show tonight! you oughta see them balloons…
7:46 PM – I think I’ll tweet throughout the show tonight… give you little previews of how exciting Gypsy is if you’re still planning to come!
8:06 PM – Disaster averted! We were able to get someone to sneak out and get a replacement violin bow! The show goes on… Happy Birthday Louise!
8:09 PM – I mean, you’re welcome. Nobody gets it…
8:18 PM – Again? By Goldstone, they got it!!
8:22 PM – I don’t think I’ve ever read Variety. I don’t even know what they write about in it.
8:36 PM – hooray! that’s the most exciting moment in the show, but I hate when it gets down my shirt and between my keys.
8:39 PM – I can totally hear @himynameisjason in the audience. he’s laughing a lot. no complaints there!
8:41 PM – My stomach just growled and I swear it sounded like, “Moo, moo; Moo, moo.”
8:46 PM – Meghan and Jess rock my world while Bryce is “foolin’ around.” No surprise there, but I’d love an ice cream soda!
8:53 PM – Crap. I screwed up one of my harp cues. oh well. I’m only one musician.
8:57 PM – It’s hard not to think about the arc of the cow. would it end up happier in the backyard or above the mantle? If only we knew…
9:02 PM – Finished? We’re just getting started! It’s only intermission!
9:27 PM – Sadness! Doc said I couldn’t play the rest of the show on the Music Box sound. the Toreadorables would be more twinquily. yes, with a q.
9:32 PM – I wonder if anyone in the audience has the perfect pitch necessary to get the B-Flat joke that Herbie sings…?
9:35 PM – This is the longest scene without music. What’s that hole? Look there’s a hole! Shut your hole!
9:38 PM – Hmmm… tonight on the pit’s menu? Starburst and Werther’s Originals. As always, Tums are also on hand.
9:41 PM – We also have goldfish, Pringles, and I think Doc just ate a 3 muskateers or something that looked like it.
9:45 PM – http://twitpic.com/3hzbu – Victoria’s just chillin in the Gypsy pit.
9:46 PM – now we’re passing notes around the pit. why don’t people laugh at “tough titties”? I think it’s a funny expression for a stripper to say.
9:49 PM – http://twitpic.com/3hzny – Grace glares at me like this the entire show. sometimes I stare back.
9:56 PM – The audience really enjoys the strippers. Go figure. I love the whole show! Meet ya round the corner in a half an hour!
9:58 PM – Grrrr…. I hate when they don’t get the greedy joke!
9:59 PM – They get butt-slapping though.
10:16 PM – I feel so cool when I play my honky-tonk piano.
10:21 PM – my one line in the show is coming up… YEAH!

4/18/09
7:43 PM – we started a bit late but we have a full house tonight, and they clapped for the overture and are laughing for Uncle Jocko! good show!
7:52 PM – I wish I had special powers. I was adopted so who knows?
7:58 PM – Rose’s purple and gold outfit in this scene matches my Mu Phi Epsilon pin I proudly wear when I perform. Music, Friendship. and Harmony!
7:59 PM – I’ve never quite figured out what’s funny about the ugly sisters… this audience laughs at everything!
8:10 PM – oops! a little autopilot syndrome. my normal guise of piano perfection was temporarily violated. it won’t be happening again!
8:13 PM – Man! I LOVE this audience! you’d think we were filming a sitcom with the laughter we’re getting. :-P still not sure about “you’re welcome.”
8:43 PM – something about tonight’s performance just feels so right… like it’s where I’m supposed to be. it’s a weird feeling of cohesion of self.
8:57 PM – Yay! I nailed all my piano <-> harp switches in the tap number tonight!
9:37 PM – Herrrrrrrbieeeeeeee!! For some reason Katelyn reminds me of Wall-E when she says that. :-P
9:47 PM – things are looking up! I love this audience. they are so connected. that means we’re doing our job right!
9:59 PM – I told Doc he should hand up a dollar bill tomorrow night. hehehe…
10:21 PM – Doc and I are equal now. also… I think some members of the orchestra are getting a bit too into the stripping taking place on stage!

4/19/09 – 1:37 AM – http://twitpic.com/3l184 – Probably the most amazing moment in Gypsy from my unique view in the pit. Mariana

4/20/09 – 6:02 PM – Ironic post-Gypsy fortune cookie: “YOUR DREAMS WILL BECOME REALITY.”

4/22/09 – 8:43 PM – Yay! I think I remedied the broken/hang nail problem I developed from too much piano pounding at Gypsy. I had to make sure Rose “had it.”

4/25/09 – 11:34 AM – @tarynpack You mean as opposed to noon AM? :-) [A reply to “@zackford see you in Forker at Noon PM!!!”]

4/30/09 – 4:39 PM  – According to the E.L.Fudge cookies I’m eating, the Keebler Elves are named Fast Eddie, Elwood, Ernie, and Buckets. Elwood is my favorite.

5/4/09 – 5:23 PM – ummmmmmm… wow. … I’m still kind of delirious… dilirious? shit. but… I know I did a good thing. THANK YOU TO EVERYBODY!!!

5/5/09 – 12:33 PM – http://twitpic.com/4ly0g – For some reason my friends thought it was funny I had this cup.

5/7/09 – 3:34 PM – To those of you having your yearly prayer today, I wish you the best! I hope it gets you through until next year’s National Day of Prayer!

5/8/09
7:48 PM – http://twitpic.com/4tclp – backstage before the processional! I’m minutes away from being a Master!
9:42 PM – I’m a Master now!
11:48 PM – http://twitpic.com/4ttrw – Look at these three hott new Masters!!!

5/11/09 – 2:21 AM – It used to just say “B.M.” next to my name, which was funny. Now it says “B.M.M.Ed.” I’m no longer shitty, just disappointed, I guess!

5/12/09 – 1:13 PM – Yeah, I think I’m kind of a badass… 3 fillings, no anesthetic. That’s BA, isn’t it? Maybe not quite BAMF but definitely at least BA!

5/13/09 – 10:23 AM – I’m feeling good…I just scheduled my first phone interview. My job search is now definitely on track! [It’s funny because I’m still unemployed 4 months later.]

5/14/09 – 1:57 PM – I think iTunes intentionally loses my playlist to spite me for not updating to the newest version. When the Matrix happens, it started here.

5/25/09 – 12:00 PM – Lots of picnics today… I don’t miss the days when I had to march in parades… but I do miss marching… SUCH INNER CONFLICT!

5/27/09
12:24 AM – http://twitpic.com/61f4c – I love Tuesday night surprises! this girl rocks my world.
2:27 AM – http://twitpic.com/61jfh – Mariana’s first super dog!!

6/5/09 – 7:34 PM – I’m gettin’ my swing on like a Klingon. (Worst rhyme ever, but very Zack Ford.)

6/7/09 – 7:08 PM – OMG KCCI! Let us watch the Tony’s! Find another way to show us “tornadic” activity without taking us away from Stockard Channing!

6/10/09 – 7:52 PM – Zack vs. the giant horse-fly in his office. After many skirmishes, the fly finally succumbed. Still, it waged an admirable war.

6/14/09 – 1:08 AM – Yay! I actually met a cute nice guy and am having a good time with new and old friends. Pride is turning out just fine……

6/22/09 – 11:00 AM – guy’s t-shirt on bus: “I was born redneck and raised right.” so classy, young man, so classy.

6/23/09 – 8:25 AM – Guy on bike’s facial expression reads: “why the hell didn’t I ride the bus?” Greetings summer! I like how you are making Iowa feel TROPICAL.

7/2/09 – 7:44 PM – http://twitpic.com/93lus – The ‘card’ in the middle says ‘Try any card.’ A classy ATM.

7/4/09 – 9:16 PM – Megan and I are hoping these kids throwing lit fireworks in the air learn something from Darwin.

7/14/09 – 1:46 PM – sigh. I seriously need some kind of pick-me-up today. Maybe if I time it right, I’ll get full HP too. (Super Mario RPG? Anyone? Anyone?)

7/15/09 – 1:07 PM – on bus: white woman interrogates Indian gentleman as to why he didn’t see Slumdog Millionaire. “you didn’t want to see it? oh…”

7/18/09 – 11:45 AM – Why am I watching John Tucker Must Die? …What has happened to my life?

7/22/09 – 12:07 PM – Well, okay, then! New plan! It’s more like the old plan. And now what was the new plan is also an old plan. Important point: there’s a plan!

7/23/09 – 6:40 PM – I just found this delightful keepsake quote on an old scrap of paper: “When you do clownery, the clown comes back to bite you. –Mo’Nique”

7/24/09 – 8:23 AM – My 1000th Tweet! A Buffy episode! Something I hope happens today, but there’s a lot to do still… but at some point today, “Goodbye, Iowa.”

7/26/09 – 3:18 PM – Did Adam have a belly button? (There’s something wrong if you actually bother to think about this question.)

7/27/09 – 5:00 PM – I just saw a t-shirt that says “Mountain Do Me.” The guy wearing it incidentally got a Mountain Dew for his son. Gosh, it’s good to be home.

8/3/09 – 3:48 PM – Apparently, now, when I see a cute guy on OKCupid who is “Christian and serious about it” I no longer care how cute they are.

8/6/09 – 3:10 PM – You know you live in a small town when you get your hair cut by a girl from your high school and she tells you stories about your parents!

8/9/09 – 5:56 PM – Sign at a local mechanic: “IF YOU LOVE JESUS HONK.” … Nope. Other side: “GOT JESUS?” … Didn’t you get the memo? He died.

8/10/09 – 12:24 AM – I’ve decided the expression “goofy gravitas” describes me well, and I have officially coined it for myself. Let it be known.

8/11/09 – 5:06 PM – Gah! I haven’t had any caffeine today and I can FEEL it! I hate that I must have at least a… slight… depende..*head falls on table*

8/17/09 – 11:43 AM – It’s interesting to watch Monday from a 3rd-person perspective… it’s apparently quite rough for people!

8/19/09 – 4:05 PM – Apparently Hurricane Bill might hit NYC… I bet there will be a lot of “Where’s Bill?” jokes. You and I have unfinished business.

8/19/09 – 10:06 PM – Best job search quote: “…you were one of our top candidates. Unfortunately, at this time, we are not extending an interview to you.” What?

8/22/09 – 4:32 PM – Dad: Do you believe in Sasquatch? Me: No. Dad: I do. Me: Have you seen one? Dad: No, but… Me: Let me know when there’s any documentation.

8/27/09 – 2:35 PM – Hope and doubt dance a wicked dance, and I’m ready for this ball to come to a close.

9/4/09 – 3:28 PM – Tootsie rolls are delicious. My tongue hurts.

9/4/09 – 8:53 PM – Labor day weekend is kind of like a slap in the face when you aren’t working.

9/6/09 – 9:48 AM – “Get Your Smokey On.” I don’t think that slogan works as well as the Park Service might think. I thought PREVENTION was their MO.

9/8/09 – 12:00 AM – In middle school, I was the 24-game champion. The number 24 always seemed so cool. For example, with 9, 8, 8, and 5: 9-5=4, 4×8=32, 32-8=24!

9/11/09 – 12:35 PM – I think it’d be funny if #StandWithJoe were a trending topic, but it was just people trashing Joe Wilson for being an ignorant rube.

9/15/09 – 1:13 PM – Why aren’t there more Teabaggers of color? FOX News thinks it’s just because the nation is “mostly white.” Haha, sure………..

9/15/09 – 7:28 PM – I love that there is audio of our president calling Kanye West a jackass. I bet the teabaggers will jump to Kanye’s defense now!

9/16/09 – 2:36 PM – If you disagree that birthers and teabaggers are motivated by subliminal racism, you might be subliminally racist.

9/16/09 – 8:24 PM – Ann Coulter has called Joe Wilson “America’s greatest living statesman.” Take that, Dick Cheney! BOOYAH!

9/20/09 – 6:23 PM – Dinner topic: NASCAR. When Mom said, “It’s entertainment just like a rock concert or the philharmonic,” any hope for me and NASCAR was lost.

9/24/09
8:23 PM – Kellogg’s now advertises cereals with fiber by showing kids playing doctor and eating Fruit Loops. That’s not how kids play doctor, is it?
8:24 PM – Excuse me, I meant “Froot Loops.” No wonder people in our country don’t know how to spell. I don’t know if I ever even noticed that before!

9/25/09 – 11:53 AM – ZOMG! You stained my brand new purse with a potato! I hate you! (This is why I don’t watch The Hills, not even for 3 minutes while surfing.)

9/26/09 – 11:59 PM – Dear SNL, Please write a skit that has a point and an ending. It would be nice to see at least one tonight. Looooooooooooooooooooooove, Zack

9/28/09 – 1:32 PM – 1500th Tweet! ZackFord Blogs: Best of My First 1500 Tweets http://is.gd/3KVNm

 

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Five (Whiny) Tips For Atheists I’ll Likely Ignore

•September 27, 2009 • 23 Comments

Having just published my original venture into public atheistic discourse, I was reflecting a lot this weekend on how I first started writing about these issues. As I wrote in the Preface earlier today, the biggest challenge is finding ways to make points and share ideas so that people care to listen. Over at Pharyngula, PZ highlighted “Five Things That Would Make Atheists Seem Nicer.” The tips are the normal drivel from self-victimizing believers, and PZ dispatches with them quite aggressively.

I loved PZ’s response. He didn’t hold back. But then I thought about it, and that’s the way I reacted that people struggled to appreciate. Even though I agree with everything he wrote, I thought I would take my own shot at responding in a slightly… nicer way, if it’s possible.

So let’s take a look at what Nathan at “St. Eutychus” has to say about atheists.

Here are five tips for my atheist friends to help them seem nicer and more reasonable.

As PZ pointed out, these tips are not presented in the most respectful way. Look at all the assumptions in the introductory sentence. These tips aren’t actually going to make us nice, because atheists aren’t nice. These are just tips to make us SEEM nice. We’re also not reasonable, but we’ll SEEM reasonable if we follow his tips.

It’s easy to go on the defensive quick, because this begs so many questions. Are there no atheists who are nice? Do you think atheism automatically makes a person a curmudgeon? Are only Christians nice (and therefore you have a clear bias in your thinking)? What does “reasonable” mean? Since we’d argue that our entire worldview is based on reason, how is it that we seem unreasonable?

Well, maybe he’s just had some bad experiences. Let’s forgive him and see what his tips are.

1. Stop being so smug.

Okay, so this is more of the same prejudice. I don’t think all atheists are smug, but I know some are. It’s hard not to be when you think about it. Or at least, it’s hard not to be perceived as “smug” simply for opening your mouth about atheism.

What does smug mean? Let’s just go with what Dictionary.com has to offer: “contentedly confident of one’s ability, superiority, or correctness; complacent.” Okay, so why would atheists be perceived as confident in their correctness?

Because atheists offer the only worldview that can be supported in any way. We offer essentially the only perspective that has any legitimacy. You might think me smug for saying that, but why? Do you have proof for what you believe? We have a lot of evidence on our side. We’ve got a good case. We have a lot of reason to be confident. Because we live in a religious society, we likely didn’t become atheists with learning a lot of the evidence against religion. That’s really what defines us.

So, we’re not smug. We’re just confident, and we know we have reason to be confident no matter what a believer brings to the table.

If you don’t like that you don’t have the same evidence to articulate an argument for your belief system, that doesn’t make us smug. It does sort of make our point of view intellectually superior. There’s not much we can do about that!

(Please see the “Selfish Atheist” meme and “Stalemate” meme.)

2. Don’t assume every piece of Christian evangelism is directed at you – we want the undecideds, not the decided-uns.

As PZ pointed out, atheists want to educate (as opposed to “recruit”) the undecideds as well. But, a lot of us also want to interrupt religion. It doesn’t matter if evangelism is directed at us or not, we see it as dangerous and detrimental to the intellectual fabric of society. (Remember, we can defend our point of view objectively and rationally and Christians can’t. I’m not saying that to be smug, it’s just the truth!)

Not only do we not want our fellow citizens to be swallowed by an ignorant worldview, we also want to preserve our own place in society. Most Christians believe that Christianity is the only right belief system (“I am the way….” and all that jazz). The more Christians there are, the more people there are opposing rationality (same-sex marriage, evolution, etc.) and also trying to ostracize us out of the mainstream. They already dominate society (Europeans call us “the most religious nation” in the West). We need to hold all the ground we have and continue to resist the spread of hollow belief systems.

Any evangelism hurts us, whether we’re the target “convert” or not.

(Please see the “Respect” meme, “Victim” meme, and “Scapegoat” meme.)

3. Admit that the debate about God’s existence is complex – and that it can, depending on your presuppositions, be quite possible for intelligent and rational people to intelligently believe in an intervening deity who communicates through a book.

I would admit that, if it were true! But it’s simply not for two reasons.

First, the debate about God’s existence is quite simple. Either he does or he doesn’t exist. There is no proof that he does, so there’s no reason to assume that he does. The same is true of any of the other supernatural entities believed in throughout the world and throughout history.

The other problem with this tip is the assumption one can “intelligently believe.” Unfortunately, that is an oxymoron, completely self-contradicting. Intellectualism is about making informed conclusions based on evidence. Belief, I’m sorry to say, is the opposite. Belief is about making uninformed conclusions based on superstition.

Yes, there are a lot of very intelligent people out there who believe in God. That means nothing to us, except to disappoint us that those people aren’t intelligent to recognize how unintelligent their belief in God is.

Going out of our way to offer undeserved respect to other points of view might make us nicer, but it would be at the cost of our integrity.

(Please see the “Truth” meme, “Expert” meme, “Respect” meme, and “Stalemate” meme.)

4. Admit that the scientific method – which by its nature relies on induction rather than deduction (starting with a hypothesis and testing it rather than observing facts and forming a hypothesis) – is as open to abuse as any religious belief, and is neither objective nor infallible.

Okay, I’ll admit it. Science can be abused. It’s possible to look at a single scientific study and use it to generalize information well beyond the bounds of the intended conclusions. That is, of course, doing science wrong, and is usually what religious organizations do to promote their ignorant beliefs.

What is deeply flawed about this tip is a complete misunderstanding of science. Science is objective specifically because it is fallible! While some inductive reasoning (and even creativity!) is used to generate hypotheses, it is deductive reasoning that tests the hypotheses and produces new understandings. That’s the difference between hypotheses (guesses) and theories (understandings) that so many struggle to grasp.

Science is reliable because it admits when it’s wrong. It’s not a belief system we follow blindly. In fact, it’s not a belief system at all. It’s a method to thinking that limits “truth” to that which can be validly tested. It’s like what Tim Minchin says in his beat poem Storm: “Do you know what they call ‘alternative medicine’ that’s been proved to work? ‘Medicine.'”

If the scientific method ever became unreliable, it would no longer be science. Science is about only calling “reliable” that which can only be proven “reliably,” even when that changes. Science is never right or wrong; it is always the best that we understand things.

You might not like that our perspective will always reliably support our point of view, but that is the very reason we choose it over belief. You can call us smug, but again, we’re just confident. We have endorsed a (literally) intellectually superior approach to understanding the world.

(Please see the “Stalemate” meme and “Just Because” meme.)

5. Try to deal with the actual notions of God seriously believed in by millions of people rather than inventing strawmen (or spaghetti monsters) to dismiss the concepts of God – and deal with the Bible paying attention to context and the broader Christological narrative rather than quoting obscure Old Testament laws. By all means quote the laws when they are applied incorrectly by “Christians” – but understand how they’re meant to work before dealing with the Christians described in point 3.

This tip basically seems to be saying, “Respect the fact that people believe (if only because lots of people believe).” Well, I’m sorry, but just because lots of people agree doesn’t make it right. When I was little, I was taught to be wary of succumbing to peer pressure. No pressure is more oppressive than society’s expectation for either tolerance or assimilation for their beliefs. That doesn’t make it right or even respectable. I am reminded of two quotes:

“A cult is a religion with no political power.” –Thomas Wolfe

“The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own.” –Frank Zappa

What distinction could be made between respecting some beliefs and not others? Just because some people’s beliefs are “harmless” or aren’t “misquoting” the Bible makes them no more legitimate. It doesn’t matter what testament they are from. I’m happy to remind you of the multiple New Testament verses that endorse slavery (scroll over them): Matthew 10:24, Matthew 24:45-46, 1 Timothy 6:1-5, Ephesians 6:5-6, Titus 2:9-10, and 1 Peter 2:18-29.

Let’s be honest, the very fact that so many people believe in God is what drives us to be so passionately open about atheism. We have our work cut out for us if we truly are going to promote critical thinking skills throughout this world. Just because you don’t like having to counter our arguments doesn’t mean that our arguments are rude, smug, unreasonable, Nathan. It just means that you don’t like change; you don’t like being not right.

(Please see the “Traditional” meme, “Essentialist” meme, “Truth” meme, “Respect” meme, “Victim” meme, “Scapegoat” meme, “Stalemate” meme, and “Just Because” meme.)

I hope I’ve done a fair job of responding to these tips. As suggested by the snarky title of this post, I don’t intend to follow any of them, but I hope you can understand why without getting all upset that I was mean. Blame PZ if you feel that way. If I still came off as rude, well then Heaven help you, because I sure can’t.

Yeah, that was a little snarky too.

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