What’s Really Disappointing About the Super Bowl

So…every first weekend of February, we Americans like to come together and sort of have a little pow wow, an unofficial holiday, if you will. That fateful Sunday, we all sit down in front of our boob tubes, cook and devour gratuitous amounts of food, most of it deleterious to prolonged longevity, and watch a sport that only we as a nation are truly passionate about. And in between brief bouts of our finest athletes waging war against themselves, we are inundated by multimillion dollar ad campaigns that tug on our comedic or sympathetic heartstrings, all vying to be remembered after the mass media maelstrom upon which they manifest. 

Enter the Super Bowl: American opulence and spectacle on steroids — another thing many of us can’t get enough of. Did I also mention we are eating and drinking ourselves closer to death, for no other reason other than we can, throughout the whole affair?

I’m actually fine with all that. I’m American after all. Rampant commercialism and capitalism in bombastic neon 100-point font is what we do best. It’s a dirty little secret that we revolted from England not so much for humanitarian ideals but because those prim and proper Redcoats got in the way of us Yanks making enough money to be debaucherous in all the ways we desired. I digress…

Anywho, this year’s festivities apparently were lacking, especially in the gladiatorial department. The Seattle Seahawks and their formidable defense made short work of the Denver Broncos’ vaunted offense, which resulted in a 43-8 rout. It made quite a few of us very cross.

Well, here is where I become cross and the tirade begins.

Has Western American society become so fat, greedy and spoiled that what originally was the diversion now bores us? Have we culturally regressed so much that a football game where one team obliterates the other is disappointing? We’re Americans; we’re supposed to love winners. Now, we even find this dull even when it’s gussied up in our favorite mass media dressings.

The football championship game, whether it is a Super Bowl or not, owes us nothing. It existed long before Coke commercials and halftime shows. It, on its own terms, was supposed to be sufficient to entertain us. Football, like every sporting event, will have its nail biters and its routs. Super Bowls are not an exception. Then why are we whining, especially now when we have the superfluous Coke commercials and halftime shows to accompany it?

I get it. Many of us aren’t lovers of football. They instead watch for the commercials. Then don’t complain about a good ole 43-8 rout in a sport you could care less about for the other 364 days of the year.

Gosh, we are insatiable. The spectacle of the Super Bowl is no longer enough to curb our ravenous appetite. It is truly disturbing that our own grandiose brand of hedonism is not exciting enough that we deem it “disappointing” when it doesn’t instantly gratify us.

Consider this: Starting in the second half, my Super Bowl devolved into people reading aloud trending Twitter topics about how disappointing the Super Bowl was. It’s hypocritical. Many weren’t even interested in the game but in everything else Super Bowl-related, and when the game became “boring,” they still had the audacity to declare they weren’t satisfied. That is what’s wrong with my Millennial generation: We can’t see or even be bothered to perceive the world beyond the LED lights of our smartphones and all their garish stimulations. 

Happy Super Bowl Monday,

Modus Pownens


Third Trip on the Kind Avenue: Privileged Distress and Counter-Revolutions

I might be presumptuous here, but I think The Kind Avenue indirectly responded to my rejoinder.  He posted a commentary by Doug Muder of the Weekly Sift that addresses some of the points I have made throughout this exchange.  They are worth taking some time to confront.

As I understand Muder’s post, he contends the Christian compatriots and I who hold that marriage is intrinsically heterosexual and in doing so, are not innately homophobic.  That’s nice of him to recognize, but we’ll see how little of a concession this is to him.  There are plenty of subtle indicators of veiled insults and gun-to-the-head rhetoric like I summarize in the following: We might not be hateful, yet we are still privileged supremacists, and in this matter, our distress is caused by the sudden loss of this privilege we had grown accustomed to.  We stubbornly cling to our prior status, unable to adapt to how society has changed.  We are relics from a far-gone age who cry out (the counter-revolution) against what happening to us while failing to see our distress, although real and understandable, is nothing compared to the discrimination gays are subject to.  In reference to a conservative blog commenter Muder writes, “He isn’t aware of hating anybody.  He just wants to preserve the world he grew up in, and can’t be bothered to picture how others suffer in that world.”

I take issue here with bringing up the whole issue of the privileged.  I don’t deny that Protestant Christianity has thrived and been the dominant religion of the United States.  Rather, I don’t see how it’s pertinent to this debate.  I find it snide and inappropriate.  It unfairly portrays Christians as selfish, unsympathetic elites and seems like another rhetorical move to demonize proponents of traditional marriage.  It’s nothing more than a cleverly disguised ad hominem that has no bearing on the truth of the matter.  Just because someone enjoys dwelling within the majority doesn’t mean he or she ought to endure legitimate grievances dealt to him or her by the minority.

Please, allow me to elaborate.  I’m not downplaying that gays suffer unjust discrimination for being gay.  They certainly ought be allowed to retain jobs and obviously not be killed in countries.  It’s tragic and horrid that if both claims are common-place realities.  What I do challenge is the notion that Christians suffering the censorship of their views on the issue of gay marriage is not as awful as discrimination against gays.

It’s difficult to discern between the two which case is worse.  Both are examples of oppression against a group of people.  Is Muder and The Kind Avenue really contending that First Amendment rights can take a backseat to instances like whether or not gays are allowed to work without the fear of unjust termination?  Although I’m not a utilitarian, I will echo Spock in Wrath of Khan: Do the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many?  Why is it warranted within the gay rights movement to grant rights to their constituents while ignoring the rights of another demographic?  Because the former has suffered more than the latter?  No, this isn’t strong enough justification.

Muder uses this last summer’s hullabaloo regarding Chic-fil-a’s Dan Cathy as his example.  He paraphrases and quotes Wayne Self of Owldolatrous:

Cathy is suffering because people are saying bad things about him and refusing to buy his sandwiches. Meanwhile, 29 states (including Self’s home state of Louisiana) let employers fire gays for being gay. There are 75 countries Self and his partner can’t safely visit, because homosexuality is illegal and (in some of them) punishable by death.

The Cathy family has given $5 million to organizations that work to maintain this state of oppression. Self comments:

This isn’t about mutual tolerance because there’s nothing mutual about it. If we agree to disagree on this issue, you walk away a full member of this society and I don’t. There is no “live and let live” on this issue because Dan Cathy is spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live. I’m not trying to do that to him.

I feel obligated to digress a little and defend Dan Cathy here because these criticisms of Cathy are uncharitable.  Frankly, I’m sick of them too.  As I’ve argued here, people aren’t merely “saying bad things about him and refusing to buy his sandwiches.”  He was being persecuted for his beliefs.  He said nothing inherently bigoted, and he was decried and defamed as prejudiced.

Secondly, I’m skeptical about the fact “that 29 states let employers fire gays for being gay” is as malicious as some want us to believe.  Simply, the LGBT community has recently gained political clout.  Up until now, they most likely were not in the national conscious when these employment laws were passed and implemented.  I have a suspicion this qualm is not about deliberate anti-gay legislature but legislature that was silent about this issue because it had never come up before.  Admittedly, I don’t know when these laws were passed, and I’m more than willing to be shown wrong here.

Similarly, I find the claim regarding the kill-on-sight and other anti-gay laws in 75 countries irrelevant.  As terrible as that is, it doesn’t apply to the life gays live here in the United States.  May I point out that in some countries, Christians are slaughtered for only being Christian?

Lastly, the oft used accusation that Cathy is funding discrimination against gays is misplaced and inaccurate.  True, his family has donated to organizations with some dubious methods of upholding the biblical definition of marriage.  Perhaps Cathy ought not donate to some these groups and be more careful in his charitable actions.  Chastisement for this is permissible.  However, claiming Cathy is bigoted for doing so is going too far.  Some of the Christian organizations he has made contributions do many more things than fight the gay rights movement.  It’s suspect to immediately assume his money was given with the intent to spite gays.  That, he donated with the particular proviso to halt the march for gay equality.  Sorry, this is too big of a leap to make.  How exactly is “Dan Cathy spending millions to very specifically NOT let me live,” Mr. Self?  I don’t see this obviously to be the case.  Instead, I perceive it as an exaggeration and implausible assertion lacking justification.  Again, please show me evidence.

It does bear repeating: I’m not denying gays are unfairly subjected to discrimination, although I think “homophobes,” “bigots” and “straight-supremacists” are coming out of the woodwork at a speed Joseph McCarthy would approve of these days.  Rather, I’m arguing there is no justification for the gay rights movement to strike out against those who they might or might not correctly perceive as their oppressors.  Simply, two wrongs don’t make a right.  Is it good for the unpopular boy to push the well-liked bully, who has tormented him for years, off the playground slide because the pain from the fall is not comparable to the suffering he has endured?  Does the fact the bully also has enjoyed a cushy and popular social life at his expense make the action any more justified?

It’s fascinating to me that the gay rights movement has framed its cause as a matter of social justice, borrowing language that hearkens to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  Yet, so many of its agents fail to emulate the lesson that inscribed people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi into the history books.  Combating fire with more fire is ineffective and ends up burning the house down.

Moving along, here’s Self’s second line of attack Muder sallies against the “privileged:”

I don’t think you hate me. I certainly don’t think you’re afraid of me. Neither is Bristol Palin. She probably even has LGBT people she calls friends. She just disagrees with them about whether they should be invited to the party (the party, in this case, being marriage).

But here’s the problem: the basis of that disagreement is her belief that her relationships are intrinsically better than ours. 

There’s a word for this type of statement: supremacist…

…Supremacy is the habit of believing or acting as if your life, your love, your culture, your self has more intrinsic worth than those of people who differ from you.

Ah, so the postmodern Medusa rears her ugly head at last.  There are multiple claims to be made here.  Firstly, I reject positing relationships within this definition.  No argument has been given to liken something that can be freely chosen and acted upon to things ontologically grounded and inherent to personhood.

Following from this, I must say, “So what?”  What’s the issue if I hold to the idea that a heterosexual marriage is better than the logically incoherent notion of gay marriage?  I also believe a relationship that the man doesn’t beat his wife is intrinsically better than one that does.  I even have the gall to believe that a relationship where both the man and woman are faithful to each other is innately better than one that is they don’t show such fidelity.  Hence, you can’t infer supremacy and bigotry akin to the Nazis or American South prior to 1970 from someone who subscribes to the idea that some things, not people, are fundamentally better than other things.

It should also be becoming evident that this postmodern world is pretty hard to dwell in as we all would be “supremacists” of some sort.  I pose this question loosely, but aren’t each of our lives generally a product of the choices we make?  I chose to include meat in my diet and not be a smoker, and don’t those decisions generally imply I think eating meat and not smoking is a better life than that of a vegan or a smoker?  Hence, I’m a supremacist against vegans and smokers and vice versa.  The absurdity should be unavoidable to miss here.  Furthermore, proponents of the gay rights movement who proclaim me “bigot” and ridicule me for not thinking gay marriage is just different are equally guilty.  The very act presupposes their worldview is intrinsically better than mine and not that it is just different and ought be accepted.  I don’t see how this not the pot calling the kettle black.  This postmodern carousel is about as fun as sawing off the branch you’re sitting on.

Lastly, Self’s quote precludes the possibility of any rational basis to oppose gay marriage.  In other words, there are only the downtrodden, marginalized gays and the big, bad, bigoted Christians who don’t want to invite the gays “to the party.”  This is simply false and a caricature of many of those who believe marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman.  For some reason, the gay rights movement fails to engage arguments like ones that contend procreation is, in principle, intrinsic to marriage, and given the fact it is impossible for a same-sex couple to conceive a child, marriage becomes irrelevant as the only reason it has arisen at all was to regulate the responsibilities and obligations involved in procreation.  It’s ironic: By demanding marriage to be redefined, the gay rights movement has removed the necessity for the institution in the first place.  In addition, why is it in the state’s best interest to recognize a union that fundamentally is unable to bring forth the next generation, thereby siphoning valuable resources from heterosexual unions that can?  In regards to adoption, don’t children have the right to be raised by their biological parents?  Why has the desire to be a parent become more important than the needs of the child?  Interestingly, I have yet to see a gay rights apologist address these questions and instead acts like these challenges against his or her position are nonexistent.  To concede that the issue isn’t one-sided is to acknowledge their opponent’s legitimacy.  Although that would be intellectually honest, it would also forfeit momentum and territory.

At least, the Muder sees the situation is a little more complicated than others would admit:

Confronting this distress is tricky, because neither acceptance nor rejection is quite right. The distress is usually very real, so rejecting it outright just marks you as closed-minded and unsympathetic. It never works to ask others for empathy without offering it back to them.

However, what he writes afterward is hardly what I would call gracious.

At the same time, my straight-white-male sunburn can’t be allowed to compete on equal terms with your heart attack. To me, it may seem fair to flip a coin for the first available ambulance, but it really isn’t. Don’t try to tell me my burn doesn’t hurt, but don’t consent to the coin-flip.

The Owldolatrous approach — acknowledging the distress while continuing to point out the difference in scale — is as good as I’ve seen. Ultimately, the privileged need to be won over. Their sense of justice needs to be engaged rather than beaten down. The ones who still want to be good people need to be offered hope that such an outcome is possible in this new world.

No thank you, Muder.  I won’t kowtow to your hollow position in order for me to be redeemed by you and your comrades’ equally empty graces.

Also, sunburns cause cancer,

Modus Pownens

Apparently, I’m a Bigot on TheUnkindAvenue

So yeah…

It might come off as no surprise to you, but I like to argue to on the Internet.  This inclination of mine has led me to the great digital forum of civil discourse, Youtube.  Anyone who has been there, knows immediately this is crap and can smell the facetiousness dripping from my words.  As I’ve grown as a critical thinker, my visits are exponentially less frequent as I’ve become less and less taken with Youtube, realizing it’s full of sophistry and demagoguery, short on intellectual rigor.

Yet, I’ve been known to dabble, and the last time I dabbled was with a user known as TheKindAvenue.  He is an atheist whose channel’s mission is to promote what he calls kindism.  His mantra is to be kind and accept everyone regardless of ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, etc.  I agree wholeheartedly with this idea, especially for Youtube as acrimony and derision reign supreme among both atheists and theists.  For that alone, you should visit his Youtube abode and blog.

But he has a second favorite word apart from “kind.” It’s “bigot.”  He accused The Cartesian Theist of being one against gays for merely making a playlist of videos supporting the traditional definition of marriage.  His video response literally began:

So recently, a popular, philosophical and theistic Youtuber has come out as a homophobic bigot.

He makes no attempt to show how this is the case as the content of the videos the Cartesian Theist endorsed are not inherently prejudiced or homophobic against gays at all.  I confronted TheKindAvenue about his faulty inference, thinking I could reason with him because he has shown some interest in philosophy with some of his videos.  The errand was foolhardy.

According to him, anyone who is pro-life or subscribes to the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman, is both sexist and homophobic.  I tried to show him there was no implicit reason to come to such a conclusion by reasoning akin due to the fact my buddy Oscar (post something, please!  You know it’s bad when I’m out-posting you!) thinks my Christian theism is false, means he hates me.  TheKindAvenue then inferred and made arguments that pro-lifers and those who support the traditional definition of marriage are against civil rights.  That, even granting same-sex couples equivalency with heterosexual ones in the government’s eyes sans the title of marriage is “separate but equal.”  I shot down these arguments as falsely conflating the quality of physical objects like bathrooms and water fountains with immaterial rights was categorically a mistake.  Law of excluded middle dictates that there is no degrees of quality with rights.  You either have them or you don’t.  He also thinks hate speech should be outlawed, and he asserted something along the lines of we should not tolerate intolerance “if you see where I’m going with this.”

I, getting frustrated, hastily and stupidly quipped that I indeed saw where he was going with this: a little place called tyranny (more on this later).  This, along with my apparently “bigoted” comments, got me blocked from his channel, officially showing me how short The Kind Avenue is.

Honestly, I should have known better.  I watched some of his more philosophically oriented videos, especially in ethics, beforehand and should have realized I couldn’t sit down and reason with him.  When I pressed him about his ethical views, I got an incoherent mess.  He is a non-cognitivist but subscribes to virtue ethics.  He also has a video entitled “Metaethics is Irrelevant.”  For those who have studied ethical philosophy, the problems here are obvious and embarrassing.  For those who haven’t, non-cognitivism is a metaethical position that moral statements don’t have truth value (can be true or false).  Virtue ethics is a normative theory that presumes that moral statements do have truth value.  So, he’s blatantly contradicting himself in the vein of “I don’t speak a word of English.”  Secondly, the claim “Metaethics is irrelevant” is itself a metaethical one.

Most likely, anyone who thinks himself as philosophically minded, yet makes a claim like this one really has no idea what they’re talking about.  It’s like saying, “I want to be a gardener, but I don’t want to get dirt under my fingernails.”  TheKindAvenue contends we instead should focus on what normative theory is true.  For him, it’s virtue ethics, which is predictable.  It’s emphasis on internal character i.e. what would the kind person do would be extremely attractive to him.  But often in philosophy, it’s the assumptions in nitty-gritty areas like metaethics where theories live or die.  They’re made in order for theories to get off the ground.  Any attempt to reconcile the contradiction in TheKindAvenue’s moral philosophy would require him to do some metaethics.  And I did get him to “get his hands dirty” in defense of his moral philosophy in which he redefined his position as quasi-realism, but before I asked him to show how this is better than what could only generously be called wishful thinking, he blocked me.  I’m doubtful he even could as he hasn’t shown much prowess or appreciation for nuance.

To be fair, I’m being harsh, yet my critique to him personally was much gentler than the above paragraphs.  I also think TheKindAvenue is a decent, yet misguided person with an excellent idea that everyone ought to be kind and love each other.  Admittedly, I’m irritated, but not so much by the fact he blocked me.  He is the king of the niche of cyberspace Youtube had allotted him, and it’s within his right to censure whomever he wants.  I wouldn’t have such a quick trigger finger, but it’s his channel, not mine.  It doesn’t stop me from blogging about him and his irrationality to my whopping nine subscribers, which I know will not affect his reputation.  What will is a continuation of his hypocritical actions on Youtube.  The impartial will see through his sophistry and realize he is being unreasonable, unfair and unkind.  It will catch up with him.

However, our encounter is just another example in a trend I’ve been noticing among gay rights and pro-choice advocates.  They have been using a rhetorical tactic that isn’t being recognized as the intolerant idea that it is.  In their view, there are only two categories of people: those with us, and the bigots against us.  There is no middle, let alone, rational ground to oppose us.  If you simply disagree, it automatically makes you prejudiced and contra civil rights.

These arguments, as ad hominem as they come, appeal to a deeply rooted taboo within Americans.  Words and terms like “bigot” or “against civil rights” stir up cringe-worthy and shameful notions like the pre-Civil War and or Jim Crow South.  To be compared or likened to those people in history is a serious accusation implying the accused is somehow un-American.  That, they don’t believe in American virtues like “freedom, liberty and justice for all.”  Hence, “bigot,” “sexist” and “homophobe” are not insults to be tossed around lightly.

But that’s exactly what people like TheKindAvenue are doing.  These terms, which characterize extreme people, positions and cases, are being thrown around like baseballs during Spring Training.  Once you’ve been dubbed as a bigot, it’s game over.  You’re as hopeless as the Chicago Cubs.  Once labeled, you’re irrational, emotional and hateful.  The martyrs fighting for equality in marriage and pro-choice have the monopoly on reason.  Any attempt to show these labels as untrue is dismissed as mere rationalization of your bigotry.

Effectively, this move is censuring those who are pro-life and proponents of the traditional definition of marriage like me.  Look at this summer’s debacle with Chic-fil-A’s Dan Cathy.  He said:

I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say ‘we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage and I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.”

There is nothing inherently homophobic about his statement.  He didn’t say “gays shouldn’t be allowed to be together” or “gays are sub-human” or “fags go to hell.”  No, he was being a Christian American who was well within his First Amendment right.  That dignity was quickly stripped away from him when he was called a bigot.

The face of unadulterated, “bigoted” evil…Dan Cathy.

I anticipate the paltry responses of the ilk: “Well, to think marriage is only between a man and a woman is to say gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry and that’s denying civil rights or relegating gays as second class citizens.”  First of all, such responses like this are proving my point, as it’s an argument and is inferring, albeit poorly, a conclusion.  There was nothing blatantly anti-gay about Cathy’s quote as reasoning had to be given, an effort had to be made, to establish your claim.  Secondly, gays do have the right to marry, they just refuse to enter relationships within which procreation is, in principle, possible, thereby rendering marriage applicable and relevant.  But that’s just what I tell my homophobic self at night.

As homophobes, I, Cathy and others like us are unable to reason, intolerant and un-American.  Therefore, our beliefs and rights, including our Free Speech, are not legitimate.  The “intolerant should not be tolerated” — again, TheKindAvenue’s sentiment, not mine — is ironically the very authoritarian dogma it’s trying to destroy.  It denies a plurality of views.  A true test to see if someone or a doctrine is liberal is if that person or doctrine tries to quell any opposition against it.  The weapon of choice to do so in this context is to call anyone who dissents civilly as a bigot.

I know I’m not.  Sure, I’ve been scathing, but I’ve also tried to be fair here, within which I criticize many of my Christian brothers and sisters’ attitudes towards homosexuality as not only wrong, but non biblical and unchristian.  Interestingly, I think it’s the post of mine that has the most likes, ratings or whatnot.  However, it’s not enough to absolve me of my prejudice.  I disagree with TheKindAvenue and his compatriots, therefore I must be akin to someone who is a journalist by day but dons white, ghost-like sheets and goes by imperial wizard at night.

Alas, as the thespian Ewan McGregor immortalized the wisdom of the great philosopher George Lucas:

“Only a Sith deals in absolutes,”

Modus Pownens

An Apology for Apologist Lee Strobel

Any time you debate a popular controversial issue—say, I don’t know, the existence of God—there is bound to be a time where you take some flack.  There is a sizable chunk of emotion invested on both sides, and this can make for a potent powder keg.  And sometimes this potential erupts into a conflagration of ad hominems and potty-mouth language.  Needless to write, it can get pretty nasty out there for both the theist and atheist.  So sometimes when you’re in the trenches with a fellow soldier, you got to watch his back.  Semper fi, baby!

In my opinion, Lee Strobel is one of the most hated Christian apologists out there.

Lee Strobel is a personal hero.

I would say Kent Hovind, Ray “the Banana Man” Comfort, Matt Slick and William Lane Craig.  Hovind, Comfort and Slick are a little in over the heads.  Craig, on the other hand, probably doesn’t deserve all the crap flung his way.  The notoriety  from his debates and the Kalam Cosmological Argument gushes a most beautiful, ruby-red that the sharks can’t help but bite.  In his defense, Craig is a legitimate philosopher and is taken seriously by his atheist counterparts in academia.  Philosophers such as Quentin Smith and others felt Kalam was worthy of a bona fide response.  Alas, this post is about Strobel.

Now, I’m won’t argue Strobel is the greatest apologist this side of Aquinas or of this generation.  I won’t contend he doesn’t make errors or is immune to criticism.  But those who assert he is an idiot —mainly those of the New Atheist ilk—and his work isn’t worthy of consideration are out of line.  Strobel is no moron; he’s an accomplished writer, who appeals to the layperson through his Case for a Creator, Case for Christ and Case for the Real Jesus books.

DISCLAIMER: I’m about to come off really pompous here.  The reason why I have immense respect for Strobel is the fact he is a product of the University of Missouri’s Walter Williams School of Journalism, the same institution I’m enrolled in.  So what’s the big whoop?  For those who don’t know, MU’s journalism school is a Mecca of the discipline.  It’s the oldest journalism program in the country and arguably, the world.  I fully acknowledge I’m not impartial here, but MU’s reputation is well deserved.  I’ve already gained professional experience reporting, writing and editing that many non-MU journalism students will not accomplish until out of school.  But enough of me spreading the MU gospel.

Both Lee Strobel and I have walked through these "hallowed halls."

The point is Strobel was trained at the best journalism school in the world.  He knows how to be objective and investigate things better than most.  Even when he set out as an atheist to disprove Christianity, he was able to put his personal bias aside.  Strobel is not a weak-minded individual, but rather a great example of open-mindedness and free-thinking.

Obviously, I admire Strobel.  His work is what introduced me to apologetics and continues to be a driving influence behind my efforts here.


Modus Pownens

Borders, Betrand Russell, and the Mind


I’m planning on getting some new stuff up here soon.  Topics I want to post have been percolating in my brain for some time now.  I’ve just been very else where lately and haven’t gotten to it yet.

I’m inspired to crank out some posts because I took a visit to my local Borders.  They had a going-out-of-business sale, and I picked up a few books.  One is an overview of philosophy of mind, which I consider a subject I need to learn more about.  The second is Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a  Christian.  I’ve wanted to read what one of the greatest atheistic thinkers of the past century had to levy against Christian theism.  As of now, I’m only a few pages in, but it feels a little too reminiscent of the vitriol of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris.  With my choice in Russell, I intended to avoid the sophistry of the “four horsemen.”  Pardon the pun, but I sincerely hope I haven’t misplaced my faith in the wrong atheist with my selection.  Anyway, I’ll be posting my thoughts on it when I’m finished for everyone to see.

And not to borrow from Ron Burgundy too much:

Stay classy, Internet world,

Modus Pownens

Why I Didn’t Draw the Prophet Muhammad

Ok peeps,

As many of you know, May 20 was the second annual Draw Muhammad Day.  Participation in it was to allegedly promote free speech.  This day originated from Muslims sending death threats to the creators of South Park for portraying the Prophet Muhammad in one of their episodes.  Depicting the Prophet Muhammad is a big no-no in Islam, and some extremists erroneously thinks everyone must abide by this rule, even non-Muslims.  Comedy Central folded to these whims and took the episode down.  This outraged many people, and in response, Draw Muhammad Day was born!

First of all, I don’t think Comedy Central’s withdrawal was good.  Not everyone is a Muslim and therefore is not obligated to adhere to Islam’s tenants.  Practicing Jews don’t demand non-Jews to refrain from eating pork, so I don’t feel like I or anybody should kowtow to beliefs not his or her own.  Secondly, freedom of expression is fundamental to the exchange of ideas and should not be tossed so easily aside as it was.

Where I take issue with Draw Muhammad Day is not the idea to depict Muhammad for the sake of free expression, though I think there are tactically better ways to support this cornerstone of our civilization such as blogging or voting for that matter, but in what the event has been mutated in to.

In their zeal, some of its celebrants, certainly not all, have used it as fodder for their campaign against Islam.  I’ve noticed during my limited experience on the Internet a prejudice against Islam.  Obviously, this is rooted in 9/11, and the Internet had provided a cloak of anonymity ideal for being nasty.  I believe this anti-Islam sentiment, although understandable, is irrational, unfair and needs to desist.  Not every Muslim is a terrorist, a pedophile or shoots AK-47s into the air.  Stereotypes like these already abound on the Internet, but with Draw Muhammad Day, this racist filth has multiplied.  Too many times I see bombs strapped to Muhammad or “sand-nigger” written in the drawings of Muhammad.  I have seen videos of people burning Korans in association with Draw Muhammad Day.

Instead of being in support of free speech or expression, Draw Muhammad Day has devolved into a childish, smear-fest against Islam.  What do these bigoted sketches have to do with the First Amendment?  Nothing.  What civilized society delights in demeaning people with racist sketches?  What Enlightened people relishes in burning books and their ideas?  Free-thinkers don’t ignite books; they read, study and evaluate them.  That’s the how Marketplace of Ideas functions.  Ideas are weighed and measured, and if found false, are put aside.  And those who wish to still subscribe to them are allowed to in dignity.  The Draw Muhammad Day I’ve experienced does not do this.

Sadly yet ironically, instead of championing liberal free thought, it is an immature display of close-minded and backwards thinking — the very thing it was purported to fight against.

The joke is on us, and I’m not laughing.

Does the Existence of Apologetics Mean Religion Is False?

To shuffle the format of what I’ve been doing–I don’t always want to have a streaming block of text–I’m obviously going to do something a little different.  I became interested in apologetics from watching YouTube, and from time to time, I still explore the medium.  I will often use videos from YouTube as prompts into the topic I’m going to write about.  Recently, I found one that I’d like to use for the described use.

Usually, I like to avoid individuals like her on YouTube.  They’re pseudo-intellectuals who spew sophistry, and really don’t add anything to the discussion.  But for some reason, I feel obligated to tear this apart.

First of all, she uses the word “disproof” too liberally.  Disproof means something was deductively and logically outright proven to be false.  This is a bold and ambitious claim, hence, she better have one amazing argument to back it up.  Alas, she doesn’t.

Her argument goes something like this:

Definition of religious apologetics = the practice of inventing “retroactive continuity to make reality and the book (the Bible) match” or “jumping through mental hoops or doing verbal gymnastics to make Scripture and reality agree”

1) Religious apologetics exist

Therefore, religion is false.

When you employ deductive reasoning like BionicDance is attempting to do, your argument must be valid.  This means there’s no way the premises, or premise in this case, can be true and the conclusion false.  It’s obviously not valid, so we can dismiss it right there.  But lets for the sake of argument, grant her validity.  Would the argument be sound?

Well, not likely.  Her definition of religious apologetics is controversial and objectionable to begin with.  The burden of proof falls on her in every case of religious apologetics to show her definition holds true.  So, you can reject the only premise on the basis it’s false.

Moreover, the most popular definition of apologetics does have a religious connotation, but by no means is the discipline exclusive to the institution.  Out of charity, I let BionicDance’s definition be solely attached to religion, but there potentially could be apologetics for anything.  In fact, evolutionary apologists exist.  So BionicDance, does that mean evolution is false?  Even if the evidence seems to unequivocally support a proposition, apologists will still appear.  For instance, I witnessed my brother defend Aaron Rodgers as being a good quarterback to some people who thought he was overrated during the Atlanta vs. Green Bay Divisional Playoff Game.  As a side note, my brother was quite persuasive and compelling, but I digress.

BionicDance, I conclude that your video was clearly a rant and hardly an argument, “which sounds to me like you’re running on automatic instead of thinking.”