Friday, January 27, 2012

Home for the Holidays Part 2

A month later I'll finish the post. I said I had a few things to post maybe, but I think I'll only post two.

Well, three, because I forgot to mention one thing. Found out a girl in my church back home got a missionary to fall in love with her, so he went home and then the missionaries were pulled out of the area. That's funny. Prior to me arriving in my mission there were a couple missionaries who had been caught swimming with girls at their apartment. Actually, on my mission I replaced an elder who basically had a girlfriend and supposedly made out with her. 19 year old boys, lol, I feel sorry for them with all the people who yell at them.

There's a "young man" back home who has talked with me about some of his separate views about the church, especially about gays and Prop 8. I don't wish to go into too many details on that but it is refreshing to see youth growing up in the church who just don't agree with hateful bigoted views that many other members may have. Either under the guise of trying to cure gayness or stop them from having meaningful homosexual relationships to outright hate crimes committed by members.

The last thing was the missionaries. They seem like some pretty cool guys. I feel sorry for them for being in the middle of nowhere, but good for them to have fun. One of them is a little rebellious, said he made a zone leader cry. Lolz. They both complained about how their 'higher-ups' were pushing numbers so much. That they needed to go door-knocking more to talk to more people. Having been on a mission, and having had an above-average number of baptisms, I still don't understand the obsession missionaries have with door-knocking. It really is an activity that should not be done.

Anyways, as I'm giving pointers to missionaries, the two of them talked about their half-rate apostasy, which is probably more serious behind closed doors. It was entertaining, and we had a lot of laughs. Shared a couple stories, complained about zone leaders, talked about the cold northern winters. Then they had to go and I decided I wanted to test the waters a little with them.

I brought them to my room and showed them one of my framed papyrus scrolls. I have a few but one of the smaller ones is an Egyptian alphabet with the phonetic sounds labeled under them. As a very subtle hint I showed them a couple things, feigned ignorance as to my intentions, and talked about Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Then I told them, in a moment of honesty, that I didn't really go to church and for where I was in life it wasn't really for me. They got quiet and listened, probably searching for the Spirit to tell them what to say. But I told them that they sounded like they were having fun and enjoying their missions but that for me there are really no people from my mission that I can just go talk to. It was all about the church and the mission for me. So since I've moved on I have little to no connection anymore and that's a little saddening. Said they should have fun, do whatever they want work-wise but make sure to have fun and build relationships with people so that they don't ever have happen what happened with me.

One of the missionaries had this look in his eye like he was piecing together the stories, the papyrus, and my conversation with them, the more rebellious one simply listened. I'd like to think that maybe I planted a seed, not so much of doubt, but showing them that it's okay to not be so crazy-obedient on the mission and that someone who has 'moved on' is still a human being. To be honest I don't really know what my overall intentions were. They probably hate me. lolz.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What I've Learned Since Losing My Faith

Some things I've learned, from my own personal experience, and from others. Obviously this is how it applies to me, so long as I am truthful with myself and not suffering from observation bias.

Death is more scary for me, but I am also, paradoxically, more content with the fact.

This could be because overall I am living my life more fully than I was before. Such as going skydiving and skinny-dipping, I don't let life pass me by anymore. I want to say to the world, "Veni, Vidi, Vici!"

Having fuck buddies or 'one-night' type things don't work; someone will eventually grow at least a little attachment or accrue some expectations.

Even in the atheist "community" girls are still concerned of being seen as sluts by other girls.

As for myself I am seen as a 'rake.'

Sometimes I do a 180 on my views because I perceive them as being Mormony.

Other times I have not changed my views when in fact I only have that opinion because I was given it by the LDS church.

Often it may be best to conflate these two extremes.

I am not a fan of drinking, but a buzz can be fun.

When I am drunk I am a ranter, and I think I'm glad for that. Drinking usually seems to exaggerate a person's emotions at the time, but for me it seems to exaggerate my thoughts. I am still an iconoclast.

Like statistics show I am more likely to help out random strangers through small acts of kindness. This could be because I now feel more compassion for people, knowing we don't have a God to watch over us.

I do enjoy dancing, but wish I was better. If I'm surrounded by people I feel much more at ease.

Coffee is tasty.

I buy little things instead of saving up for larger things or trips.

On that note, paying off debt/loans is very rewarding.

Atheist books rarely give an exegesis of LDS theological doctrines and theodicy that the 'church' has set itself to.

I am loquacious.

I notice double-standards far more with sexism: such as my posts of sexism seen in feminist discussion, or how a girl can own a vibrator and we're fine with that but a guy with a flesh-light is a creep.

Apropos, I have learned a great deal about my own sexism: such as how 16 months ago I would have disparaged someone who wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom.

A part of me wants to go back to church to see what it's like, but I remember why I left and it had everything to do with how much Mormons are taught to love others and what will make everyone happy. I don't want to sit through they're opinions on that.

As my father dies and my family comes back together I have vastly improved upon our relationship. I am glad this started before I knew of his condition, and I am grateful for the push by 'ex' gave me with trying to improve the relationship in a more timely manner.

As much as I enjoy discussing sex I still find a lot of the discussion pompous and awkward. Maybe I try to talk about so I can get overall any awkwardness on my part, and so I can better understand what people's expectations are.

Many Mormon friends no longer wish to be around me, even though for most of them religion never came up in conversation.

I still keep my mouth shut on a lot of opinions because I don't see how 'arguing' with someone, who will not give any reasons for beliefs, is of any use.

When Mormon's say they've 'heard' everything or know what I know I instantly know they don't.

For me there is no going back to Mormonism or an Abrahamic God belief. With what I know now and how my critical thinking has seeped into most aspects of my life I would need to have an actual spiritual experience to go back. And not one that we taught to believe in, like a 'feeling' after reading a scripture, or simply having something good happen after living by a specifically religious standard.

In a couple months I will have moved on from belief for 2 years. In that time I have gotten my own apartment, had my first drink with my gay high school buddy, read dozens of books from an atheistic perspective or about other religions, got the best job I've had so far, went sky-diving for the first time, skinny-dipping for the first time and several times after, greatly expanded my genres of music, switched to Bluray, started shopping at IKEA, tried weed, tried adderall, switched schools, lost 24 credit hours in the transfer, learned how a parent will die, slept through the night with a girl for the first time, lost someone important because I took her for granted, spoke to my brother for the first time in years and saw him for the first time in almost 7 years, and gained a whole new group of friends.

Several people could say I've gone off the deep-end with all the 'sinful' things I'm doing or tried. I wish that the list were more expansive, more significant actually. I enjoy writing, fiction too, and I read a study years back saying that there is a correlation between the desire to write and the desire to experience a lot of different things. Writers like to experience the world in its fullness.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Lunam Atheist Reddit Incident

Here is a post I feel obliged to post. Some people may be aware of the over-sexualized reddit incident with user Lunam, a 15 year old girl who posted a pic of herself with a book her mom gave her. From reading a couple blog posts, such as THIS one, and going through her threads on reddit I feel I have a decent view on what happened. Now, though this may not seem like it sometimes, this is a PR post and a rebuke to anyone who acted this way or contributes in any way in the future to being beyond offensive online and harassing, in this case, an underage atheist girl, who some thought was older at least at first.

First, the blog I posted in the link. I did do some research, and I commented on this blog, 4th I believe, so you can see my opinion on the 'post' but it was also this post that moved me to feel obligated to also condemn the actions of those involved with the Lunam incident. So credit was due.

I did think that the other blog post brought up some issues I see. Recently I posted a video on the Mormon Expression FB group. The video was this (and is vulgar):

(usually i have to fix something i did wrong to post the vid so bear with me if it doesn't work)
So, the guy has some jokes, he makes some funny ironic points, like the Iran comment, and his argument is true, and he uses one of the girls on The Talk to say it's true, but the way he does is, with his use of words for example, is not really conducive to having people listen. As to some of my concerns with the blog post, but I commented on that already. Also, as a side note, when I post things on FB that obviously are going to start a discussion full of controversy and I say nothing in the title of the post and wait half a day to comment, then, yes, I am trolling, and I want to see what happens.

Btw, her's a girl saying basically the same thing, Brittany. So for any girls who don't like hearing this from guys, and you know who you are cause you feel a little riled up with me or the vid and are ignoring what is an obvious issue, then here's Brittany's vid:

But all of that can wait till later ... like another day ... maybe, if I care.

Lunam's overview is at this link if you wish to run around a bit. Oh and that is a picture of her, btw. So her very religious mother bought her this Carl Sagan book, which i own but have not yet read (1 chapter in the middle a year ago when i got it) and she was very excited and wanted to post the pic. The following shit-storm that ensued is a little worse than what you may be guessing with comments (taken from the blog i linked!!!) like the ones below:

Bracin’ mah anus
She is fifteen years old. ABORT THE MISSION. ABORT THE MISSION.
You call it kidnapping. I call it surprise adoption.

Okay, so that last one is kinda funny, like how rape is actually Surprise Sex! But the issue here is you can make the joke, but you don't usually say it to a person in particular, especially when it is a 15 year old girl. No one sees an issue with this? Here's some more that the blog I linked posted from reddit, I don't wish to change the list in any way:

“Relax your anus, it hurts less that way.”
“Blood is mother nature’s lubricant.”
I’d put billions and billions in your pale blue dot.
I’d occupy her habitable zone
I’d go at that so hard, my entire body would appear blue on approach
Upvote for creative use of Doppler effect in sexual allegory
I’d read that book so f***ing hard to you.

It's pretty bad. And you'd think the girl would be traumatized. Luckily she isn't, but unluckily ... she is partly to blame, at least from the perspective of how this blog posted about the Lunam Incident. Don't worry though, I will be returning to the posters, most of which, I think we can all guess, were male.

So Lunam posted this, her REGARDING THE SHITSTORM post that sheds light on some things. #1 - Due to this post it seems she probably has had some time to discuss everything with some friends and this is an excellent reply to the whole incident. This is a very intelligent reply, and I say that cause it sounds like how I would have replied. And it's not me being to self-congratulatory, but that's the type of replies or comments I write, trying to take in all POV and possible scenarios.

Main issue is #2 where 'we' learn that it was HER who said 'bracin ma anus' and probably didn't really think about what it would mean to everyone, and to which comments followed. She gave the BF trump card which online does not work well but then followed it all with the comment about being naked in her penthouse. Sarcastic yes, but sarcasm doesn't carry well in written form and for most people that was the final 'open door' chime to go forward with more sexual comments. She seems to have learned from her mistake and realizes how she could have been seen as presenting herself.

Now let's set that glass of milk down and start on the meat. First, this is reddit, lots of high school college age people. Lot's of guys. This is an anonymous board. Should we expect all the posts to be from actual atheists? Or that a lot of the comments could be from horny teenage boys her age? Also, that the posters represent a very small fraction of the reddit atheist community at large and that it would be ridiculous to apply what happened here to the larger atheist ''community'' of the world? I hate calling all atheists 'one' community, that's silly, but people will, and that's why I feel a need to get on here and openly discuss what happened and give proper condemnation to the guilty.

So the final moment. Regardless if she played everyone up a little and started the sexual comments in the first place, why did it progress, or digress, to the point it did? Didn't someone get on there read some comments and think "hey, this isn't quite right?" I'm sure some did, and like I would have, promptly left. I'm sure some did better than I would have and commented, maybe saying something like ''hey, guys, you need to calm down and be more respectful, this is getting really bad." One issue is that I bet most don't even know how it started, they got on saw the comments, laughed, and joined in. Where, if in real life or if they had a moment to think, they would have been abhorred by the whole "discussion" and would have condemned their own actions.

This whole thing is ridiculous. And her comment, "A major topic of controversy was the fact I posted my face. I'm sorry I didn't realize I should have to wear a burka on r/atheism," ... seriously? I mean, unfortunately girls do run the risk of posting pics online, but is reddit so bad that girls can't do it there? What have we come to in the online community if girls can't post pics without being sexualized instantly? Did someone seriously lay out an argument for her to not post pics and it was her fault? I shake my head in a stupefied stupor.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Purpose - And an atheist abstract

As I slowly recover from being heartbroken and come to terms with where I am in life at a quarter of a century old, I am starting to hang out with people more and more. And I guess people have been concerned, or at least have noticed that I'm not too happy as of late, or not 'myself' as some would say. Having been invited, last minute, to a New Years party, with skinny dipping in hottubs an all, I had several people thanking me for all that I've done. Same with a party a few weeks ago when I was really at rock bottom. Email-wise I've had 120 separate, unique email threads started with people contacting me, though some are youtube video replies. Also one of the reasons I forget about people who contact me, sometimes.

I apologize, cause in the last few months I have really been detached, and I guess it takes one couple thanking me for helping them to come out to an event where they met each other, or one BYU student thanking me for replying to his email and helping him find friends, or another friend who thanked me for having my blog so that one of his friends could find me and then bring him into the group as well.

When I think about all the people I've helped in the last year or so, I guess I have made a difference, in many people's lives, some small, some significant, and some we may yet see. My job suffered in the last few months, getting ready for classes had taken a backseat, U-COR was nearly dropped, and for a month straight I was not there for any of my friends. But in the sense of this, my blog, I also dropped the ball in many ways. Not that I'll start to write more often, but I'll make sure to be more on top of it.

Besides this, a friend on FB asked why people in the group don't believe in Mormonism and why many of us are atheists. I made a little abstract, but I'll add to it here and lay it out, a little gift.

ps: also, I forget that I even had an angry phase a year ago, with the church, till someone reminded me, lolz. I hope I don't come off as a horrible angry depressed atheist now ... heartbroken sure, and maybe a rant here or there ... oh who am I kidding, if you don't like me then fuck off


Arguments against existence of gods:
'Diversity problem' - with thousands of religions, some claiming they are the only true religions, many of which are in open opposition to one another, and all of which have many conflicting doctrines and beliefs.

'Hidden Divine' - where there is no actual proof given for one god or religion in particular to set them apart from one another, or to prove that there is at least one deity in existence.

'Contradictory Traits' - where we have some obvious, and not so obvious conflicts in being all-powerful, especially in the case of an Abrahamic God being omnipresent and omnipotent. If 'He' can see all things into the future but is all-powerful then he should be able to change the future, even from what he sees.

'Fact of evil' - the largest, strongest argument against gods, easily for reasons related to contradictory traits, though some religions, such as Mormonism have more clever answers. However, one basic fact is that we as a society would still hold parents responsible for not saving a child from shooting themselves with a gun instead of holding them with contempt for interfering and saving the child from suffering. Suffering does not always produce better people, often the opposite, and the pain and suffering in the world in so extreme it shatters minds, families, and nations.

'Argument against Need' - as laid out by Hawking in 'The Grand Design', Stenger in 'The God Hypothesis' and 'The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning' and physics in general, we generally know how the universe works and we have some strong theories as to how it could have begun, all of which work fine without gods.

Arguments against theists:

'Design or Fine-Tuning' - another 'a posteriori' argument. With most of these a bit of thought or research is all that is required, though some footwork will be necessary. The fine-tuning can easily be turned around to show how 'not' fine-tuned the universe is for life to exist, a night-sky is an example of space that you and I could not live in. Design arguments almost always assume A,B,C before giving their point, such as Paley's Watch and so refuting A,B, or C is all that's necessary. Nature does not have 'watches' or the like in it, underlying order does not entail design. If 'like entailed like' then God could as easily be a fruit or vegetable.

'Ontological' - an 'a priori' argument. Being an argument of logic, or illogic, the easy form of this is that the universe is too great so God did it, or God is true because the Bible says so, all of which is circular reasoning. Or that if there are infinite universes then God may exist in one, which then entails 'He' exists in all and cannot not-exist. But being all 'logic' based these arguments can be refuted by even non-logical arguments, purely on basic rhetoric, and none of these arguments do anything to actually prove that God exists, they are all 'what if' statements, essentially.

'Poor reasoning from the masses' - Guy P. Harrison's book '50 Reasons People Give for Believing in God' is the epitome of this, which is that most people give poor reasons for believing in gods. I.E. my aunt's cancer went away, my son was hit by a car and didn't suffer but died quickly, or I felt a warm feeling an hour after reading some scriptures, or I won the lottery right after I bought a friend a new TV. None of these examples prove anything supernatural and, most important, none of them belong to any one specific religion or purported God. The lottery winner could be Christian, Muslim, atheist, Buddhist, and they all could look at it differently.

'Antecedent' - any argument for God already takes a logical leap to state that God exists for us to argue for his existence. This also leaches into the discourse religions put forward, that, especially in Mormonism, we can have libraries of books neatly organizing all the rhetoric and writings into a strong cohesive whole (albeit with much double-speak) but that it all, everything, is pointless when trying to prove that God exists, or that these 'works' have any basis in reality. This is more an argument against God existence, but I feel it is more of the 'fact of pain' trump card for arguing against theists. Of course, most people who would even argue these points would not listen to this argument and would quickly disregard it.

I hope this little abstract of wisdom is helpful. I wrote the first part on FB so it was more brief than I wanted, but I hope these help people to be aware of other arguments they may not have known about and now you can go do some research. For arguments directly against Mormonism then just use my link to the right ... and up at the top.