Sunday reading: Epiphenom on the link between religion and homophobia

8 03 2009

What’s the connection between religion and homophobia?

You don’t need me to tell you that religious people are more likely to be homophobic. But what you might not have thought too hard about is why that should be. Is it that religion makes people homophobic, or is it simply that religion attracts people who are conservative and/or authoritarian – people who also tend to be homophobic? Then again, ‘religion’ is a pretty broad church. Is all religion linked to homophobia, or is it just specific types?

And what about racism? Are religious people more likely to be rascist? And if not, why not? This is an important question because religion acts to strengthen group cohesion, and it also comes with a lot of moral rules. Either of these could explain the link to homophobia. But most religions tend to be at least overtly anti-racist. So if religious people are more racist, this is probably because the ‘group cohesion’ effect overrides the ‘moral censure’ effect.

Sometimes it seems like you wait years for big studies to come along tackling these issues, and then two come along at once! Putting both of them together starts to put some really interesting meat on the bones of this very fundamental question (with the caveat that, like most research in religion, these studies were done in the USA/Canada)

More here.

Of battles and wars

17 02 2009

Christopher Hitchens will be debating William Lane Craig in April on the question: “Does God Exist?”

And the apologetics community is creaming its collective trousers. Craig is apparently a very skilled debater, so they’re expecting him to trounce Hitchens. Ergo more souls won for Jesus! Ergo more idiots rolling around on the floor speaking in tongues! Yea!

Hint: it doesn’t work that way. Perhaps it does work that way in the authoritarian-follower universe (call it the “argumentum ad D’Souzam“), but atheists don’t consider Hitchens their pastor or Pope, you won’t find Hitchens’ conversion to fundamentalist Christianity (should that eventuate) precipitating the conversion of the heathens en masse, and there will still be atheists around to scrutinise Craig’s arguments even if Hitchens is defeated. (Some would argue it wouldn’t be the first time.) An apologist defeating an atheist in a public debate only demonstrates that the apologist is a more skillful debater than the atheist. It does not constitute evidence that a deity exists. To paraphrase Al Swearengen, you may want to write that down and stick it over your one good fucking eye.

The whingeous right redux

9 10 2008

Coalition senators are conducting an inquiry into the refusal of evil leftist academics in Australian universities to pander to the cherished opinions of persecuted Young Liberal students.

Several academics will appear before a Senate inquiry into Australian academic freedom in Sydney today.

NSW Greens MP Dr John Kaye says the inquiry was set up by Coalition Senators at the request of the Young Liberal movement.

“It’s looking for Australian academics and teachers who are, in the words of the Young Liberals, trying to impose their ideological, political or cultural prejudices on students,” he said.

Dr Kaye advises those academics facing this kangaroo court to tell the inquisitors (in so many words) to go fuck themselves. As well they should. A mature and robust education system cannot be founded on an affirmative-action programme for ideas.

Sadly, it seems the youth wing of the Liberal Party and its fellow-travellers in Parliament are still besotted with the neo/theo-con movement of the United States, which uses Orwellian-titled “Academic Freedom” bills to legislate and lawyer its cherished beliefs onto university and high school syllabi. Purveyors of both the young-earth and intelligent-design strains of creationism have long used the “teachers trying to impose their ideological, political or cultural prejudices on students” meme to attempt to force educators to pander to their worldviews. In Australia, the high-water-mark of this brand of high-RWA anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism was reached when the Howard Government Education minister Julie Bishop asserted in October 2006 that “Some of the themes emerging in school curriculum (sic) are straight from Chairman Mao” . . . typical of the Howard Government’s schtick of demonising teachers (presumably on the basis that the teaching profession in Australia is highly unionised, and whose members—I am guessing—are generally not likely to support the Coalition).

I hope, then, that Australian politics (including the mainstream Liberal Party) have grown up a little since then, and this inquiry represents the feeble, plaintive bleatings of a whiny vestigial minority. We don’t want to go down the American road.

And Neil thought he had problems . . .

19 09 2008

Just have a look at the grief Martin Wagner is experiencing at the hands of a loving Christian. In a nutshell: Wagner, co-host of The Atheist Experience TV show and author of the Atheist Experience blog, critiqued a creationist’s article on the evils of atheism. Well, the creationist didn’t like that, and retaliated by vandalising Wagner’s Wikipedia entry, claiming that Wagner was a drug addict and a paedophile. Wagner called him on it on the Atheist Experience blog, and the creationist didn’t like that, either, so—like a hybrid of David Mabus and John A. Davison—he trawled atheist and Christian discussion boards alike across the Internet, and started a half-dozen blogs, wailing persecution at the hands of Wagner and a Wikipedia administrator (the creationist’s vandalism led to his banning from Wikipedia). Wagner, now armed with sufficient evidence to mount an online defamation suit, obtained the services of an attorney. The creationist went quiet for three months, then issued Wagner with a “Cease and desist” letter. Wagner has decided that enough is enough, and is now pressing ahead with legal action. He observes:

If you write anything online, there’s a good chance it will be read by someone you don’t know, who isn’t already your friend and predisposed to be kind to you no matter how much you insist on doing the writing equivalent of face-planting on the pavement. That’s the crazy thing about the intarweebs: there are people on it. People who have opinions who don’t always march in lockstep with your own. And if they disagree with you, they’ll say so. Sometimes they’ll be polite (which I am), sometimes they’ll be snarky and sarcastic (which I am). But there’s no protective law that says that opinion articles published on blogs and websites get to be shielded from criticism or even pure derision. I understand, every time I post to AE, that what I’m writing is as likely to be critiqued or flamed as it is to be praised. And I don’t mind that fact. If your ego is too fragile to take criticisms of your writing and ideas, you shouldn’t be writing in as public (some might say anarchic) a venue as the frackin’ internet!

Absolutely right. But that’s the thing about these high RWAs, especially when they are permitted access to a keyboard and an internet connection. They don’t like it when people disagree with them. They take disagreement with their ideas as a personal attack, and they deem it justifiable to respond in kind. And given the havoc and mischief they can wreak upon their victims—outing in Jeremy’s case, stalking in Bruce’s case, hacking in Neil’s case, and now legal threats in Wagner’s case—they arguably should be considered a threat to democracy, if not society.

Sorry . . . our bad.

12 09 2008

Atheists caused 9/11.

That’s David Mabus’ contribution to the Richard Dawkins Facebook discussion board. He’s a net.kook from Canada who, according to Skippy the Skeptic, believes that Nostradamus “predicted the coming of Depeche Mode and, through this, the World Trade Center attacks.” He’s mad as hell at the James Randi Educational Foundation for not forking over $1 million dollars, and he spends his days trawling the interwebs telling all and sundry about it.


He is as unresponsive to criticism any garden variety crank, and as a consequence any comment he leaves here will be promptly disemvowelled.

Still, aside from having a mouth one hopes he doesn’t kiss his mother with, he’s probably harmless. Unlike the cowardly Squadristi member who recently shut down operations at two of Neil’s blogs. Why anyone would want to do this to one of the more thoughtful members of the Australian blogosphere, and someone who certainly doesn’t actively go looking for trouble, is beyond me. High RWAs . . . fuck them.

Bring out the gimp . . .

17 08 2008
Read this book. Discuss it with your friends.

"Read this book. Discuss it with your friends."

I’ve been wondering what to make of book-spammers. These individuals travel from blog to blog, comments thread to comments thread, with no intention of actually participating in the discussion. Their sole intention is to dump (as a seabird would a heap of guano) a cut-and-pasted blurb about some paradigm-shifting tome promising to change your thinking about x, where x equals evolution, or the existence of deities, or education policy, and so on, and so on.

The following, whom I’ve encountered, may ring a bell, especially if you frequent blogs in the Atheosphere: the Young Earth Creationist cdavidparsons (Google “c david parsons The Quest for Right, a series of 7 textbooks created for the public schools”), Christian apologist Gerry Rzeppa (Google “My name is Gerry Rzeppa and I’ve written a short children’s book in answer to the works of Richard Dawkins”), and Edbooked, whose agenda (beyond getting you to read and purchase a certain book that purports to solve whatever ill-defined problems he sees in the US public education system) is unknown (Google “Twilights Last Gleaming On Public Education a portion of which may be viewed online”). Read the rest of this entry »


22 02 2008

Take a vat of whine, add a heaped tablespoon of chutzpah, and you have the perfect recipe for an RWA on the losing side of an argument. 3 cases in point: Read the rest of this entry »


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