Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tagged! The Atheist 13

Dr. Poodles and Adrian Hayter popped my tag cherry . I'm all fahklempt. Double-teamed for my first time (or are they the same person?)

It's kind of cool, because it gives me something to write without coming up with an idea first. Somebody tell me why it's thirteen. There're only ten questions.

1. How would you define “atheism”?

I'll just fall back on the dictionary definition and say that I lack belief in gods. I want to make sure to point out that I don't actively disbelieve in gods, I just haven't seen any evidence. Any gods that are hiding out there are jerks anyway, since they could help us out and don't, so I'm not sure that theistic or deistic proof would change my attitude much. I guess I'd just have someone specific to be pissed off at.

2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

For the early part of my life, my family's religion was benignly Baptist, if such an animal exists. I knew about god and Jesus and the whole thing, and I learned the ten commandments and the like, and I felt vaguely bad about myself.

When I was about ten, I think, we moved back into the Ottawa region, and joined a church not too far from our house in Gloucester. It was fundamental, premillenial and evangelical. It was an experience. I learned about Chick Tracts, and consumed them voraciously. I feared gay people and popular music. I got saved and I got baptised. I joined the youth group (I was saved in the back of a minivan on the way home from five-pin bowling). I learned just how dirty and sinful things were all around me, and I was afraid for my soul. We lived there for about two years, and then we moved to London. The church in Gloucester has a sister church here, and they told us to check it out. Instead, we started going to one that was five or six blocks from the house.

We were lucky to escape. The new church was again benignly baptist, and there was a lot less hell and damnation. We just didn't go as much, and I eventually fell away from the faith. A lot of what I learned in Gloucester still sticks. I have an overdeveloped sense of shame for which I will be eternally grateful. And, I still have Jack Chick.

Shortly after we came to London, our previous pastor was arrested for abusing his two-year-old daughter. He was big on the corporal punishment (he may have actually thought "spare the rod, spoil the child" was in the Bible, but he was really horny for that commandment about honouring one's parents), and when the girl was admitted to the hospital for something else entirely (asthma, I think), they saw bruises on her ass. He was in a cell faster than you can say "She fell." And recently, there has been sexual abuse allegations at the Ambassador Baptist Church here, which is obviously the sister church.

That answer was even longer than Adrian's.

3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?

Lies. I'd like to expand, talking about how it's stupid to cloak one's faith in science (see previous posts), but I've only got one word.

4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

SETI. Probably because it's a lot like praying, but the odds of someone actually responding are much greater. And it makes for great movies. And mediocre ones that are still fun.

5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?

I'd make it an actual community, for one. And I'd increase its size. That's two things, so I'd just make more of us.

6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?

"You realize they won't let you have sex, right? Well, have fun with that. See you at Thanksgiving." She's catholic, so she'd be a nun. It'd suck. She wouldn't even get to abuse altar boys.

7. What’s your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

My wife likes to call our daughter a miracle. I say she's pretty fucking cool, but millions of people are born every day. It's not a miracle. That's stretching the definition a bit. If my daughter is a miracle, then every death is a miracle. Every moonbeam. Every cloud. Every mosquito bite. Every bowel movement. Every headcold. Every tapeworm. People usually see the fallacy when I get to the shit part, but I think the tapeworm gives it a little extra.

I also like the prime mover argument, because it simply defers the mover by one. It also doesn't mean I have to go to church, because even if it's so, the rest (Bible, Jesus, Mohammad, etc.) doesn't necessarily follow.

8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

I guess within the atheist community, the fact that I actually miss religion. I liked having a big imaginary friend who was looking out for me. It was comforting, even though I was a terrible disappointment to him. I also haven't completely dismissed the whole parapsychology thing. (I know, I know.) Probably because I like ghost stories.

Outside the atheist community, I get a lot of funny looks when I say I don't belief that I have a soul. It's a fundamental belief that transcends religion, and it makes us feel special. It's one thing to say we share an ancestor with chimps. It's another to say we're just meat.

9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Dawkins, because I've read more of his stuff, and he's nice.

10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

My wife, because it would make my life a lot easier. I was tempted to say Stephen Harper, but he'd still be a smug douchebag, so it goes to Tasha.

And now I must tag.

I'm gonna hit Homo Academicus, because she doesn't post as often as I wish she did, and this might poke her a bit. Next is Riding with Rickey, 'cause he's funny, and he might actually do it. And finally, Canadian Cynic, which, while not strictly an atheist blog, is still pretty harsh when it comes to god. and it further boost the CanCon quotient of the blog.

If I didn't tag you, feel free to do it anyway, and leave a link here.

Thank you. Have fun.

1 comment:

Adrian Hayter said...

Loved your answers :)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but I am both Adrian Hayter and "DrPoodle". I just forgot to sign my post properly, and I didn't realise I had my nickname set up here...