Friday, February 25, 2011
Well, USGA had another panel only this time .... at Provo! Seems that the Alpine panel from months ago probably was received so well that other regions that turned them down before, such as Provo, now accepted them. The panel itself went well, and I even felt inspired to throw a comment out there, though I had wished for more answering on it. But a couple other people picked up the ball, such as a friend and a lady behind me, and continued some of the thoughts I put out there.
One man handed out slips inviting people to a website or something about how to turn straight again. Says: "Gay. Anybody can be. Nobody has to be." You can go to www.standofliberty.org or www.narth.com or www.pfox.org if you wish to see what they're all about. I think it's an honest gesture of care, but very ignorant. Thankfully, one of my new idols who enjoys having his tires slashed was on the panel and is actually very knowledgeable about the gay community (go figure) and could throw out numbers and statistics like no other, such as saying that people who are forced into marriages or trying to change their sexuality are 70% likely to try to commit suicide. Or backing me up when I said Utah sometimes has ranked above 300% in the amount of gay teen suicides when compared to the national average.
Actually, here is Eric's page on the panel. As Erich says, it was standing room only.
With all the revolutions going on (a net benefit in my book, for the world) I'm just feeling antsy. Even some people in BYU-H are rising against the Honor Code. I invited a bunch of people to put some kind of obvious statement in their Facebook status (in the next couple days) that shows they support gays or the LGBT community. I invite all of you faithful readers, all 8 of you, to do the same.
Now, I have to be clear. For me, atheism/non-belief is more important than gays. Obviously I have personal reasons for that. But I think fighting for one minority that you genuinely care about will only further more rights for your minority. For me, this is trying to break bubbles of misconception over atheism, and the standards by BYU against postmos. Fighting for gays only helps people to be more accepting.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Wow. Busy last couple of days. Did a random emergency roadtrip for a friend so now I have to recover all my lost sleep. I'm also very controlling, basically an only child, a little OCD, and so I rarely let anyone else drive my car for me ... my own fault but bllaaaaaaa tired.
Anyways. For those randomly finding my blog through certain searches - our generation, of about 16-30 year olds, is over 25% secular. And is growing. Well, secular/non-believing numbers are growing across the board. I think it goes people over 65, then 30-40, then 18-25, then teens, with 40-60 or so being the smallest growing region. At some point I may link sites and surveys, but for now take my word or simply put some damn work into it and look it up! Also, Mormons have a hard time understanding atheism and have an even harder time approaching it so, no, there are not many books dealing with atheism in Mormonism. For those trying to find those books. I read a book on faith, Holding Fast I believe, and that was the closest I came to a book dealing with atheism ... and it really didn't help me much. Back then I was really trying to believe so I speak from experience.
Also, talking about surveys, I took this one which atheists ''won.'' Got 31 out of 32 so I'm pretty dang smart, yeah? I linked the survey questions to the atheist group of Utah valley and most of us got above a 24. A couple did get 100%. I got one of the Jewish questions wrong ... mean it dealt with the Judaic faith not that it was-nevermind. I also did guess on 2 others, but since I since I thought my answers were the right ones and was right I guess I wanting guessing as much as I thought, lol. Overall, in our group, we averaged like 29-30 out of a dozen. We agreed that the survey itself was skewed for post-mormon atheists to do well. I think this is fair to say.
That's all on that. There was a big to-do about the survey a while back. It was geared towards Americans so it mainly talked about Christianity, with an oversampling of Mormonism questions, and only a couple atheistic questions. Very general overall though.
So, this little post is my plug for The Nature of Existence. I watched this with my gf a few weeks ago. I thought it was pretty good, not great, but definitely worth a watch. If you like seeing crazy people in Religulous then you will enjoy this one. I have interviews with Nygard about his film on Irreligiosophy and Point of Inquiry. Maybe Freethought Radio as well, and he seems like a pretty cool guy. He seems very agnostic and pretty atheist so it is tilted towards atheism, accounting for a third of the interviews probably, but my gf and I felt the video was pretty objective as well. From him we get some jokes, but overall he treats people and their beliefs with a lot of kindness, whereas most hard punches are thrown by other people on the show. I enjoyed seeing how even the douche preacher, Jed, showed a soft side here and there, where he says no matter what race we're all God's family, or his comments on love. I use him as an example, for those who haven't seen it, cause he is absurd in how he gets in people's faces on college campuses and tells people they are going to hell, because he literally believes in what he teaches, but he also seems to literally care about the people he's talking to. Dangerous yes, though he seems like a person who disdains violence, but I thought the film did good with showing several sides to the people involved.
In the end the film doesn't get too deep, I mean, Nygard had 100s of hours of footage to use and put it all into 90 minutes which felt about right. A lot is just speculation on the interviewees parts, but it is enjoyable. He has people like Richard Dawkins, Irvin Kerschner, Carl Sagan's wife (forgot her name, lol), an interesting guy named Aha, and even Orson Scott Card. Plus many others like his neighbor, a pre-teen atheist girl. It skips around a lot but generally it follows a path with the types of questions being asked. If you like seeing interesting people, like wrestlers for Jesus, then you will love this film.
Theology and philosophy, as I said, are, however, not that deep. If you've read plenty of books, looked at world religions, and asked lots of questions then you won't receive too much new information. I still have the Mormon mindset of going into something and trying to apply it to my life, so for this film I did gain some personal insights and gems. I tend to think happiness is pretty vital in life, and for some of the people in the film they seem to just be trying to find happiness.
Overall, I recommend it to people who think they might like it. If you're not interested then visit the site and watch a couple videos. If you like those then you will like the film. Happy huntings.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I apologize for not putting much work in this. Lately I've been anti-social, but it doesn't mean I don't have things to say or talk about ... who doesn't?
As such, today some of us had lunch again on campus and some guy came through asking us to go to something but was bearing his testimony and talking about the BoM. It was funny. One kid was like "that was the best thing that's happened to me all day." The guy just sat down, with the mini-fliers in his hand so we knew what was up. But then the first he says after apologizing for interrupting us (to which I said we were 'just' talking blacks and racism) is "do you guys like the BoM?"
Awkward! Lol, so great though. He just happens to do this with a table of heathens. We all looked around at each, some laughing nervously, and I'm like "It's a funny book!" Regardless he was talking about a Polynesian and Native American dance show at the De Jong and I'm sure it's good. And I'm glad he feels he can bear his testimony of the BoM through dance ... which I wonder if everything is up for grabs to use as a tool for bearing your testimony. I'm betting so.
Lately I've been thinking about agnosticism more again. I still find myself trying to be concrete and to try to find 'sure answers' to things. I use to think there is a best choice out there for all choices at a given moment, and maybe there still is, but no longer in a 'grand scheme' kind of way. I also feel dubious that, right now, atheism is a big part of my religious preference. I think it's a big part of who I am still, and that could change, but I feel like agnosticism may be the path I'm going down. So maybe I should flip my self-proclaimed stance to atheistic agnostic? Lol.
I still don't see the worth in being true agnostic though, and I don't fit it anyways. I don't believe there is a God, so I am an atheist, and I won't say I know, so I am agnostic. But I think life has no real answers, or has so many it is inconceivable. I feel I've been in flux lately again and I think the better philosophical attitude and steps to take in life is to admit a level of doubt with even the 'sure' answers. I want truth but I think making that a big focus of my life is only going lead to an eventual disenchantment. As to say, I think I'm 'enchanting' my worldview with making the 'truth' of things so important. And now I think the 'truth' of truth is that it doesn't always matter, certainly in the case of individuals.
When putting yourself as the most important thing in your life or existence (where other things are necessarily but not most important) I think happiness probably is second. Truth probably third, if I must continue a hierarchy of values and virtues. I think everyone wants to be happy most of all, or to emulate the feelings of happiness through other means (such as depressed people feeling content where they are) and I think the truth of that is that sometimes lies work, and sometimes are the 'best' choice.
Can I say that the 'villain' from Watchmen is kind of a hero in my eyes. I think I'm becoming more and more pragmatic and utilitarian.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
First an update on my blog. I still keep track of my stats and quite enjoy it, even if some people think I rub the numbers in their face. Really I'm not. I'm betting 80% of my blog hits are due to the amazing pictures I put up. Either way, I also keep track of what Google search keywords bring people to my blog, though I do not know what pages. I can only guess based on the keywords. Here's some I've had in the past:
underground byu party group
jacking off byu jerking off boys jerking (etc.... - all in one search)
Here's some from more recently:
byu liberal facility
nerds are atheists
things going on at byu
cognitive dissonance for stay at home mom
do mormons date atheists?
hot atheists 2011 (obviously me)
mormon food storage (im glad this has moved to be one of the top results for people)
byu men who masturbate
So obviously atheists are nerds, we're happening, i'm hot, and lot's of people have a fetish for byu boy's who beat the meat. I enjoy looking up these search results, they make me laugh.
So I was having dinner with a friend and he asked if I was an atheist and two girls by us overheard him and decided to talk to us. Yes, no segue into that and barely any information about what happened prior to this but you don't need to know that. So one girl proceeded to talk about some unconfirmed miracle of a girl being impaled by a stick in the mountains last year on a 4-wheeler and how her guts where hanging out and her stomach was torn out and everything. Sounds horrible, and perhaps this all happened, but generally unconfirmed stories like this that I can't seem to find online anywhere are either hearsay or heavily exaggerated. I'm going with the latter. The women also was able to talk about what the paramedics were saying and giving some really good details which only leads more credence to the story being a fabrication of something real. Then she finished and left it at that implying, "so, how can there not be a god?"
I had wanted to say, "so because of this one situation you will believe in a Mormon God rather than any other and you will flippantly toss out all the times people do die from much less or are in miserable situations at this very moment, all over the world?" But I didn't cause I truly thought it would be pointless.
Which, I must say, you don't die from having your skin impaled. You organs are mostly just sitting around and are quite moveable if you don't have flesh to hold them together. I mean, I know someone who had part of their intestines come out and the doctors simply stuffed it back in a sewed him up. I also know that you don't need your stomach fully intact to survive for awhile, and my medically-interested gf confirmed that you don't need a stomach at all with proper procedures. Why didn't the girl bleed to death? I can't say except people somehow live having their limbs blown off, probably something to do with shock and other people around them trying to save their lives. Of course, this is all just ideas being thrown out and I decided not to.
Ends up the main girl use to be Catholic, went on about that for awhile and then brought it back to atheism. In the beginning it was made clear by both girls that even though they were drinking coffee they were both Mormon and knew it was true. I explained that I did not call myself an atheist alone, but rather an agnostic atheist, and then explained what that meant. The story girl mentioned a friend of her's who didn't believe in a god but thought the universe heard our thoughts or some such so I explained that he sounded like a pantheistic deist, though he probably wouldn't call himself that.
Story girl went on for a while, cause my friend is Catholic mind you, about how she didn't like confession but likes Mormonisms version of repentance (which baffled me while she sipped her coffee) and how she didn't like how non-Catholics thought they worshiped Mary and the saints. Then it came back to me about how I was quiet, which I said I was still debating if I should debate with her at all, if it would be worth it, to which I didn't allow her to respond but quickly asked why it was bad to not believe in a God as she had said that in passing during her stories.
She didn't feel she could back it up so she said as long as I believe the Golden Rule I'm good. Which I said "or any modification of it" and then explained that I don't believe any moral system works, morals from religion are self-serving and enforced through the risk of eternal punishments, and morals from an evolutionary standpoint also lead down perverse paths. I compared Jesus to some other moral thinkers of the time and prior, I still like Confucius. And I said that overall I don't think it matters, most people live ethically regardless, enough so for society to function though some do better than others, such as Sweden or Japan for completely different reasons.
Overall the conversation never approached "do you believe in God" but rather I tried to show her that her thinking was leading her down a path to believing atheism is bad. Both girls admitted to having been wild sex fiends partiers and drinkers and don't go to church but still believe in Mormonism. I may not be too far behind them on those things, but I believe my morals, by their standards, are far better than what they live. We shouldn't wait for a perfect person to tell us how best to act, we would wait for a long time, but I get annoyed when people somehow believe atheism leads to ruin. America has roughly 2% of the population being 2nd or higher generations of non-believers (where their parents or one of them were non-believers or 'devout' atheists.) And some foreign countries have been that way much longer. Some may say "the prodigal son didn't lose everything at once" but I view that as sick wishful-thinking. Annie Laurie Gaylor of Freethought Radio proudly states she is a 4th generation atheist. She's probably one of the most law-abiding citizens in America, lol, and continuously points out flaws of old Christian morals and present-day ones.
Regardless, it was fun to have the conversation though the story girl was a bit intense and made me wonder if we should even talk about it. Her, like some other girls (for some reason only girls) wanted to talk on FB but hasn't replied. Usually I present my reasons, which I pick and choose as there are many, for not believing in God. Often I think they are surprised to hear that I still don't know any atheists who KNOW there is no god and that deism or agnosticism are philosophically sound in my mind though I don't live by them.
I also realized that just about any Mormon will eventually resort to "I know it's true" when the argument starts asking for evidence rather than a stated view trying to find facts that support it. Also, that, like my Catholic friend, that though many theists say "I know" they still harbor doubts. It was a fun conversation. But I'm off now, time for an USGAY meeting. Oh, and today we had a heathen lunch on BYU campus where a half-dozen of us met up for a bit. And then I ran into 2 other atheists on campus. Very fun day on campus.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
This will be a quick post of something I learned about earlier today (Mitch Kahle from Hawaii) and only just finally got around to watching the videos. I recommend struggling through this post, for once I have some good things to tell. And if not, then PLEASE go down to the videos, you should really see this. First though:
More people are wanting to submit Patriarchal blessings so I'm holding off on that more. I won't be posting any, I'll just be going through to find anything interesting at all. Which may not be entertaining later on, lol. Also, watched Collision, The Nature of Existence, and now Expelled so I have several movies to talk about.
The atheists of Utah Valley FB group is growing quickly. We are almost to 80 now and may surpass 100 before the end of the month. We are also finding more people who may be able to help with approaching BYU about changing their position on postmos. Brad Carmack, who is a practicing Mormon, is a nice intelligent fellow who is currently involved with USGA and wrote a little book about gays and the LDS church. You can actually find copies at the BYU bookstore, lol. I heard through the grapevine that he is on our side about trying to change BYUs standards on this.
Which, the standards are low. God's standards are low. He is a complete dick, and the worst kind, he's a hypocrite. I don't think the God of Christianity has ever made a commandment that he didn't break in some fashion. BYU's are a lot better, but usually behind in the times with the rest of society. Well, if by society you mean a more secular society, cause I dare say theocracies of the Middle-east are also behind. Or African countries where they psychologically and even physically abuse children who are thought to be witches or gay. Oh right, they just kill the gays in some countries. And usually these things are done in the name of Jesus. Want to see what the dark ages with Christianity were like? Go to some African countries.
Sometimes, I feel I need to be reminded how religion is so good at corrupting people's thoughts and becoming more close-minded. I'm all for moderate religion and there is no doubt in my mind that the church is good for many people, and in many cases I think Mormons approach it moderately. But at the last USGA meeting a totally chill guy showed up and was so impressed with the group and so proud of us, saying it was hard for him in SLC so it must be even more so for people at BYU. Ends up his tires got slashed on BYU grounds cause he had a Pride sticker on his car. My girlfriend's car got scratched (but not keyed) for having an Obama sticker. One new girl tonight was saying how a friend is depressed, literally, cause she's over 25 and not married. I get down when I don't have a gf, but I'm sure that LDS women are far more likely to get depressed if they don't marry right away.
Religion has a way of poisoning things, and maybe this comes from Hitchens, but I tend to agree with him more and more on it. However, I don't think I'm comfortable with saying it is all bad. I'll take Dawkins' approach that 'of course religion isn't the root of all evil.' But with religion I see the happiness it gives people but generally that happiness is attached to sucking the happiness out of others either by contrary arguments or violent opposition. Jesus said, hate your family if necessary, above all else love me.
So, this story sparked this sudden mood and now I've made an actual post, as usual, lol. You dear readers should be use to that now. Anytime I start with "this will be a short post" you should realize I'm about to write a long one. And generally I'm most proud of my posts that have no forethought. And then thankful for readers like Demosthenes who write me back saying "did you really mean this?" so I can go back and be like "yeah... not really, I should reword that, lol."
So, the story! Mitch Kahle, Hawaii, separation of church and state. I listen to Freethought Radio with Dan Barker and Ann Laurie Gaylor [sic?] from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I actually have contacted them about BYU though they sadly cannot help directly. I listened to a couple episodes today at work and came across a recent one talking about The Atheist' Guide to Christmas, which I bought for my girl and which she has loved. So I wanted to hear an interview with one of the editors and had to go through some Mitch guy who did some protest in Hawaii or something? Wow, surprised by how gripping the interview was. Here's what happened.
Hawaii, I guess, is less than a third Christian. It is also the most secular of the states. I don't have any info handy but it was brought up in the interview. But the state legislature has invocations by Christian preachers for the public meetings. Kahle sent them at least 3 emails explaining to them that it was unconstitutional and that they needed to stop. They wouldn't reply so he said he would protest. And protest he did. His wife even joined him by the end, and he had a friend record what happened. And it got ugly. Here's the video:
Wow, just wow. So Kahle was hauled off to prison and thrown in a cell with a man who had been inside for 17 years (to which Kahle said the man was very pleasant). He was released an hour later. His camera man, Kevin?, actually had to go to the hospital for a bashed head, split lip, and bruised ribs. His camera was wrecked beyond repair. I am actually unsure if anything has been done to the officers who assaulted them, does anyone know?
But we do know what happened with the courts. Kahle had 3 charges pressed against him, but lucky for us he had video evidence and a judge who understands the law:
So in the end good things have come out of this. But boy, at once it makes me afraid to do anything, and at another level I want to just run out there and be right at the front. With people getting there tires slashed at BYU over a gay pride bumper sticker I have to wonder how many people could get so riled up to punch someone in the face. Obviously, anyone, and with numbers and group-think then disaster is prone to happen, but I expect BYU security would act much like they did with the Condoleeza Rice protest = very respectfully and calm and nice.
Either way I am overall very done with 'waiting' for things to happen. Like my recent post about teen gay suicides in Utah, or postmos getting kicked out of BYU, how can I just here and be like "well, religion isn't all bad and some people are doing some things about it." NO. No no no. Not enough people are doing enough things. Some people caring is not enough for people with power to change. I am almost willing to say that it would be best for some clear evidence to come forth that the LDS church and BoM are completely false and destroyed the church if it would stop the gay suicides from occurring so frequently in this god-forsaken state. It's the LDS teachings that do it. I mean, these are not random gay or lesbian kids, the articles and writings show they come from LDS families. Gah! It's horrible, just horrible.
Well, now I'm on fire again and nobody to talk to. Am I the only one who really cares and get's fired up about these things? I hope not. If one thing I am certain on, religion separates people, it doesn't unify the human race. C.S.Lewis knew this, I know this, Dawkins knows his, and even Jesus taught it.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I don't actually have anything to write about. Nothing exciting going on at BYU. The atheist group can't meet at the Coffee Pod cause too many of us were turning out and it was too large of a crowd. But to make up for a lack of recent posts (i am still getting a couple more Pat. Blessings so I will be starting that soon ... as well as my exit story) I shall show you some of the greatest pictures imaginable! Enjoi!
There you go, have a godless day.