Archive - Jul 2008

July 30th

It's Like They Read My Mind

« July 2008 »

Man, some weeks things just go your way. First, Ryan Seacrest got bitten by a shark, fulfilling a dream I didn't even know I had until it was suddenly and surprisingly fulfilled. Then, Senator Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens gets handed a whopping great pile of indictments because he got his home remodeled by an oil company. Which is one step closer to a dream I've had for many years - Ted Stevens out of office and, ideally, behind bars.

And then, thanks to a bit of research, I find out the secret to my innermost beliefs. People spend years and years trying to figure themselves out, but I just had to spend five minutes on Conservapedia to learn that I'm an amoral, rebellious, superficial dad-hater who, despite living in times of peace and prosperity, suffered personal tragedy after a horrible experience during a schism in my state-run church. After which I mistakenly began to worship science.

It all makes sense now! All these years, I thought I was an atheist because I wasn't taught to believe as a child, which led to me thinking the whole thing was ridiculous as an adult. But that's not a reasonable explanation for atheism. I know that, because Conservapedia has helpfully compiled all the Reasonable Explanations in the section of their Atheism entry entitled "Reasonable Explanations for Atheism", and my explanation's not on the list.

Sure, it's easy to poke fun at Conservapedia (the conservative answer to Wikipedia started by Phyllis Schlafly's apparently otherwise-unemployable son, Andrew), but just because it's easy doesn't mean it's not necessary or fun. So this one goes out to my fellow readers and members of the A-Team. Feel free to check off one or more of these reasonable explanations that apply to you!

Moral Depravity! According to Conservapedia, "moral depravity has been demonstrated in the atheist community through history and through studies." Because this is Conservapedia, the fact that they claim it as a cause while describing it as either an effect or a correlation is to be expected. Am I deprived of God on account of I'm depraved, or depraved on account of I'm deprived? Since it's Conservapedia, bet on both.

Superficiality! "Noted ex-atheist and psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz has stated that he had superficial reasons for becoming an atheist such as the desire to be accepted by his Stanford professors who were united in disbelief regarding God." They have a point there. I cannot tell you the amount of peer pressure I got growing up to renounce God. It was worse than smoking. From the Cub Scouts, to the CCD kids, to the Pledge of Allegiance, there wasn't a single moment when I wasn't desperate to fit in with all the cool atheists around me. I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for Vitz to leave the carefree, constantly-reinforced life of atheism for the outcast status of a believer.

Poor Relationship With Father! Man, did you know this Vitz guy got an entire book out of studying a handful of prominent atheists and drawing spurious conclusions from what he could glean of their personal lives? I didn't either. But Conservapedia sure seems to take it as, if you'll pardon the term, gospel.

Learned Times, Peace, and Prosperity! I love this one on so many levels. First, because it provides a reasonable explanation for the Bush presidency. He's just trying to drive down the number of atheists, whose numbers had grown fat from all that education, peace, and strong economic times. He sure broke our wagon, that's for damn sure. And second, because they get a chance to blame secular education for making people secular, comparing it to times of heavy religious education, which allowed people to find their natural path to God. Right.

Error! "Some argue that atheism partly stems from a failure to fairly and judiciously consider the facts." In logician circles, I believe this is known as "corrumpo ergo corrumpo", or "You are wrong because you are wrong." Proving that following the citations in a Conservapedia article is like following a turd through a sewer, I found that the quote above is the Conservapedia translation of a snarky, slightly douche-y quote from C.S. Lewis, who was taking time off from turning Jesus into a lion. Remember, if one guy sorta said it once, that's enough for a "some argue" from Schlafly's crew!

About the only reasonable explanation I can get behind is, not coincidentally, the only item in their list with no citations, no further explanation, and no interpretations. It just sits there, alone, next to its bullet, comfortable in its self-evidency. Negative Experiences With Theists. I don't know if it causes atheism, but I can be damn sure after all these years that it reinforces it.