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I am a former middle and high school science teacher pursuing a doctorate in Science Ed. at George Mason University, with a concentration in cognitive science and the evolution of cognition and learning. Postings on this blog represent my own views, not those of my employer or school. All writing displayed on this page is original work unless otherwise noted, and thus copyrighted.

18 August 2011

I'll take the tea, keep your "party" to yourself...

 Ah, how the tide turns... http://news.yahoo.com/poll-tea-party-less-popular-muslims-atheists-135203079.html

  Everyone's favourite mock populist party is facing the wrath of the rest of the nation, which it should have faced once the views were fully exposed. The comments on the yahoo article demonstrate that normal people think very little of the Tea Party, and that Tea Party Republicans are keeping their hand in the sand. If you're one of them, I have to point out something that should be painfully obvious: nobody likes you. No, really, they don't. You've won elections on a national scale, I'll grant that, but there're reasons behind that amounting to little more than poor choices. The energy the 'movement' produced was viable, real, raw energy; such energy led Tea Party backed candidates to win primaries, and, left with no one else to vote for, the rest of the Republicans/conservatives/Libertarians came out in force to ensure that the election wasn't won by some 'liberal' (American liberals rarely are, but we'll get to that in a bit, I sense a long rant coming)

27 May 2011

Has Atheism Become a Religion? A Response to David Lose

 In short, no.

   Lose makes his non-argument (this is an oft-recycled canard more than anything else) based on what he considers four pieces of evidence. In the interest of fairness, we'll consider them.

As recently reported in the New York Times, military personnel who identify themselves as "Atheists" have requested chaplains to tend to their spiritual needs. 

   This is the only thing he states that makes me question, and it doesn't make me question long. Demanding equal representation under the law, even in the military, isn't the same thing as being religious. I do wonder what the 'spiritual needs' of other atheists might be, but this seems more a play to legitimize a position that isn't accepted in military doctrine than anything else.

The U.S. Government reports that in 2008 those identifying themselves specifically as "Atheist" composed the 18th largest group of 43 possible categories of "self-described religious identification."

   Where else are we supposed to self-identify? The question deals with religious belief, and our lack of it. I'm not going to write 'atheist' under my profession, age, or other demographic questions. As Lose grants, this is also one of the options listed under the 'none' response. So you ask religion, we say we have none, we're atheist, and you say we're religious? Spectacular reasoning there.

Similarly, it's worth noting the degree to which Atheists routinely, strategically, and often vociferously position what is often described as their "secular-humanist" views against religious traditions.

      Vocally speaking out for rational thought, and aligning it against magical thinking, doesn't make rational thought a religion. It's offering an alternative to that religion. Some that espouse secular humanism couple that with a set of what they consider core values, but having an ethical philosophy is likewise not a religion. If you take the magical thought out of, say, Buddhism, you're left with something that still isn't religious despite it's roots. We'll get to why shortly.

Finally -- and you probably knew this was coming -- consider all the comments made by self-identified Atheists on articles published in the Religion section of the Huffington Post. Seriously. Either Atheists have way more time on their hands than the rest of the population or they've got something to prove.

    Yes, we certainly have something to prove, in the sense that we're a denigrated minority in much of the world, as well as a minority that has been expected to sit quietly and pretend that we don't exist. The assertion that being assertive in an us-against-them fashion is a feature of new religions ignores that it is also a feature of civil rights movements and tribalism in general. We're loud and resistant to religious thought because that religious thought is an all pervasive feature of the societies in which we live, and often based solely in one religion. Thus we speak not only for ourselves, but for the numerous religious minorities that also don't want your faith installed as an official part of public life. Granted, those minorities may want their faith installed instead, but seeing to it that all are excluded levels the playing field.

17 May 2011

Pat Condell "You'll turn to God"

Bigots on a Bus

 Well... multiple of each there. I took a couple hours out of my day to attend, in protest, a rally sponsored by Return America and the North Carolina Family Council, that was intended to support SB106. What is this wonderful piece of legislation, you ask? SB106 is the bill that would allow the North Carolina version of Prop 8; in essence it would draft and put out for referendum a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman. But, Dave, you're not gay? No, I'm not. I also don't agree with legislation stemming from religious ideals, nor do I agree with walking all over someone's legal rights because they happen to find people of the same gender attractive.
(more below the fold)

19 February 2011

Excellent use of a degree...

Since I can't reply how I'd like to this in the class forum, I'm doing it here. Briefly. 

Picture of Nancy Fire
Dr. Joe Collins visiting class Monday night
by Nancy Fire - Saturday, 19 February 2011, 10:55 AM
Hi Everyone, Dr. Joe Collins will be visiting class Monday night to discuss his phenomenology study about "Calling".  I have posted his dissertation for you to look over.  He is a graduate of NC State, now teaching at Gardner-Webb and creating and playing dulcimers.  Here's his dulcimer website: http://www.jcdulcimer.com/ ...He's a testimony that there is life after the doctorate!  smile
He may post other readings as we move through the weekend. These will be for your further understanding of this phenomenological framework for those of you considering this approach for your own research.

  'Life after doctorate'? If my life after obtaining my degree consists of creating and playing dulcimers, I'm wasting several years and a large amount of someone's money... In fact, I'd think you could create and play dulcimers without the benefit of anything other than some metallurgy and music classes, available at your local high school (well, the metallurgy probably isn't anymore, but there have to be community ed. art classes that could get you to that point, right?) Oh my, doesn't Monday night's class sound enthralling. Who'd like to pretend they're me for an evening? Be loud, rational, and make faces at all the airy-fairy BS spouted by, well, nearly everyone else in there (but particularly those who've earned their degree in whateverthefuckthey'veearneditin) and you'll play my role well. Oh, and I'm sorry Dr. Fire, but there's absolutely no chance in nonexistent hell that I'm going to read something posted for my supposed edification within two days of a weekly class. Get your shit together and post it at the beginning of the week, and realise that not only do we have classes besides yours that place demands on our time, but that in the interest of our sanity we might find something to do other than dealing with your web board. For example, I'm currently coloring concentric circles in highlighter on pages of one of last week's readings, and going to the shooting range shortly.

25 January 2011

Since you brought it up...


  A blogger who writes for townhall.com recently posted what he considers to be 7 non-political differences between liberals and conservatives. I think those would do well to be subjected to critical examination.

 1) Conservatives are more patriotic than liberals:Conservatives tend to focus on the positive things about America, while liberals focus on the negative. If the first thoughts that came to your mind when you thought of America were “slavery,” "imperialism," and "unfairly using too much of the world's resources," you probably wouldn't like America very much either. Conservatives, on the other hand, look at the fact that we saved the world in WWI, WWII, and the Cold War, take pride in the fact that we have contributed so much to the planet, and believe America has had a tremendous positive impact on history. The conservative view produces love of country. The other view produces a deep seated dislike of our nation.

  Gee, that's great... you're optimists. Or you've failed to see the reality in front of you, which is that the rest of the world doesn't much like us because of an imperialist, unilateral foreign policy. Am I less patriotic than some/most conservatives? Perhaps, but I don't consider that to be a bad thing, and it doesn't mean I don't want 'murica to succeed, it means I view it in a more reasonable light. Rampant nationalism doesn't have much to recommend it, historically speaking.

10 January 2011

One side or other needs to be rational...

Dear fellow left-wingers,
  The recent shooting (I hate the overuse of the word tragedy, and I'm refusing to use it in this case) in Arizona my be the result of a deluded neo-nazi/tea party loon, but let's be frank here: those spewing right-wing rhetoric are no more responsible for the actions of a violent psychopath than those promoting left-of-Lenin politics are to blame for the actions of someone that might listen to them. If you'd like someone to blame, place it squarely on a) said violent psychopath, b) our lack of health care that failed to identify and treat someone that is clearly mentally ill, and c) whichever douchebag reviewed this man's pistol permit and concluded that despite a record of mental issues, he should be allowed to own a weapon.
  Is political rhetoric inflammatory on both sides? Yes. Is it possible that someone who is a paranoid schizophrenic might take right-wing talk radio a little too seriously? certainly. OTOH, unless someone can produce direct quotes that were intended to incite someone to violence, CAN IT. (Yes, Palin's "Don't retreat, RELOAD" tweet is ridiculous, but it's also the product of a mind simple enough to think that it was witty rather than particularly violent).