Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gary Fouse has a crush on me

I already wrote about the saga over at Fousesquawk over a year and a half ago. To briefly sum it up: "conservative" blogger Gary Fouse banned me from commenting on his website due to me being a mean ol' meanie-head who said bad things about him. (In other words, I called him out on his lies and the fact that he can't even define what Global Warming is, even though he's certain that it's not happening.)  I will admit that I still check out his site from time to time, but if I'm honest, I rarely read what he's actually writing. I only click on the links that have comments, as I hope that Siarlys Jenkins, a frequent critic of Fouse) has something amusing to say.  I've even commented a few times using a pseudonym, but that's pretty rare. I realized that there's no point in trying to reason with those who don't understand what reason is in the first place, so there's no point in getting in protracted debates with somebody who's as thick as Fouse.

Turns out that Gary is on to me! Or, at least, he thinks that he is. He recently wrote a post called "Hi Lance!" where he offered the details of somebody who's been visiting his site. Apparently somebody in Lafayette, California has visited his page, and this person works for the Contra Costa County Office of Education. Man, he's really got me! Only I work for the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, and my job site is in Pleasant Hill. And I'm usually not using the computer there at 3:51 on a Friday. And I don't use a Mac.

So yeah, that wasn't me. Do I sometimes check the site while I'm at work? Sure, but only in my down-time. I don't exactly stop a lecture to read Gary's latest posting of George Galloway in a skintight outfit.

Of course, there's his goon squad of Miggie the Misanthrope (stole that term from Siarlys) and Squid, who feel safe in making fun of me, like a Chihuahua who barks at a Rottweiler who's chained to a tree. Apparently, I'm a "Global Warming Nut" which everyone knows, because I write about it so often. I probably must have written about it at least two or three times in the past few years! I'm a NUT! (Apparently, asking people to simply define something before they deny it is a "nutty" thing to do!)

So Gary posts about me, and yet I cannot write a comment because he refuses to approve any of my responses. The really funny thing is that he's scanning through his blog visitors with such meticulous detail. I sometimes check to see where my visitors are coming from, but apparently he likes to know every little detail. And I don't exactly get why it's a big deal that I visit his site. Did he somehow think that by banning my comments, he was banning me from reading the site?

I can only conclude one thing from all of this. Gary is in love with me, and he misses me. Of course, being a married man and a "conservative", he can never admit his undying affection for me. Obviously he must have deep feelings for me, as it's pretty clear that I'm on his mind.  When I emailed him about this, he acted like a woman ex-DEA scorned, and wrote: " far as I am concerned, you don't exist."

I don't exist, yet he needs to call me out on his blog for...ummm...reading his blog.

It's okay, Gary. I cannot return your affections, but I will not judge you for your loving me. The best part is that you can feel free to comment on my blog as much as you want. I promise not to delete them, as now I feel much more pity for you than annoyance. I know that you are still hurt about my "Lies and Ignorance at Fousesquawk" because calling people out on their ridiculousness is something you NEVER do. I still stand by what I say, and I invite you to defend yourself any time you wish. Show me I'm wrong, and I'll write "Gary Fouse proves me wrong!"

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Pope on Atheists - a step in the right direction

I can imagine that I probably wouldn't have to look too far if I wanted to find atheists making cynical comments regarding what Pope Francis said about atheists. If you're looking for that sort of a thing from me though, you're not going to find it.

For those of you who don't know, here's what he said:
Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God's mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart," the pope wrote, "the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one's conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one's mind about what is good and evil.
Obviously, the notion of God and His mercy doesn't mean all that much to me, but let's not pick nits here. What's important here is that he's not questioning the sincerity or motivations of nonbelievers. This is a pretty big deal. I just recently got into a conversation (which I didn't pursue with any real effort) with a believer who trotted out the old "You were never really a believer" line with me. That has got to be one of the most maddening things when somebody thinks that they know what was in your heart and mind better than you do. I understand why they do that though. It's easier than actually having to explore whether they might be mistaken in their beliefs. Why do that when you can just say that those who changed their minds must not have been doing it right in the first place?

Lately, I don't know whether I'm aiming lower or simply refocusing, but I'm finding myself much more interested in communicating rather than debating. When I would debate theists, I'd find that I'd spend most of my time explaining what atheism even was in the first place. That would often involve having to clear up the usual misconceptions (like how I'm not an atheist because I'm "mad at God"). I think that with some of the friendships that I've made in the last couple of years, I've accomplished this. In fact, I sometimes find myself pleasantly surprised when a believer makes an empathetic comment about what it must be like to be a nonbeliever in a sea of theists.

I think that a man like Pope Francis realizes that threats of hellfire really don't go very far in the industrialized world these days. No doubt that this is one of the reasons why the number of faithful is falling. If they want to keep their system going, they're going to have to change strategy. Obviously, nobody is interested in being burned and tortured forever. And even if you're a devoted Christian, you can admit that many atheists wouldn't leave their faith unless they felt like they had pretty good reasons for doing so.

Obviously, I don't see eye-to-eye with The Pope on a whole lot of things. If I had my way, the Catholic Church, as an institution, would either undergo a major reform or vanish. (And please realize that I would be completely AGAINST any action that would FORCE them to shut down.)  Obviously, that's probably not going to happen in my lifetime. For now though, I'll take what he said as a sincere message of reconciliation and empathy. If people like me aren't considered to be de facto villains, and Catholics can acknowledge that I've come to where I have as a matter of my own sincere effort to understand the world around me, then we've made a pretty solid advancement.

I suppose it should be noted that there are some prominent Catholics out there who are going into damage-control mode, just like the last time Francis made a similar statement. I don't worry too much about them, because if the Big Kahuna of Catholicism is saying things like that, then it probably reflects an overall shift in tone of the entire establishment. Or maybe I'm just stupidly optimistic like that.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Militant agnostics are annoying

Let me start off with the usual disclaimers:

1. I don't actually believe that there's such a thing as a "militant agnostic". Until the day that somebody enters a church and/or atheist gathering and shouts: "Nobody knows!" before blowing up the place, I'll stand by that statement.

2. I do not find all agnostics to be obnoxious. I've explained before that while I'm technically agnostic myself, I don't care much for the term. However, I usually find that when I talk to most agnostics, we're pretty much on the same page, yet we disagree on terms - which is pretty unimportant.

What I'm talking about here is a particular breed of agnostic that somehow manages to take what should be the humble position of "I don't know" and turn it into a pompous pedestal that combines the worst of overbearing fundamentalists and condescending atheists. (Yes, I admit that sort of atheist exists. They bug me too.) This particular breed of agnostic is represented by the comic above, but even that only scratches the surface. For a better example, I'd like to direct you to the following link: The Three Sides of the God Coin.

Obviously, I'm just fine with his point when he writes: took me so long to finally decide that a book of parables written by humans and then re-written under the watchful eye of a monarchy was probably 90% bullcrap.  The book does nothing to prove or disprove God's existence.  Yet, the faithful are positive of God's existence and will offer up the Bible as proof.
 Indeed, sir. But then he has to go and write:
The atheists are no better.  They operate on the assumption that God does not exist because God has not shown him/herself.  That for the lack of tangible evidence to the contrary, it must logically follow that there is no supreme being.  Just because you cannot see it does not mean it does not exist.

Let's play a little word-game here, shall we? What do you make of the following statement?
The aleprechaunists are no better.  They operate on the assumption that leprechauns do not exist because leprechauns do not show themselves   That for the lack of tangible evidence to the contrary, it must logically follow that there are no leprechauns.  Just because you cannot see it does not mean it does not exist.
Makes just as much sense, right? Why is it so unreasonable to say that you don't believe in something when you don't have enough evidence to convince you to believe it? Can something exist that you cannot see? Absolutely. Does that mean that I should be agnostic about leprechauns? Shoot, I'll be the biggest advocate for their existence if I ever catch one and get that pot of gold, but until then, I don't think that it's unreasonable for me to assume their nonexistence.

And that's the point. From what I can tell, the evidence for God is just as good as the evidence for leprechauns. What advantages does the belief in God have over leprechauns? From what I can tell, more people believe in God, but since when does popularity equate with truth? How about the following, from the same aforementioned blog:
If you look at life on this planet and how symmetrical and predictable it is, believing that it was by design is not a stretch in my opinion.
I'm fine if that's your opinion, but in MY opinion, it's a really big stretch, and that's what makes me an atheist. Essentially, this line of thinking amounts to nothing but a "God of the Gaps". In other words, it's nothing more than a logical fallacy to assume that "symmetrical and predictable" is enough to assume a deity. And I realize that this is not his thesis, but he holds it as a legitimate point of view that we atheists should at least consider. Well, I've considered it, and it's illogical, so there ya go.

I actually tried to respond to the guy and explain my point of view, and no doubt you can see my comments on his thread. I gave up instantly when he responded:
I do understand the atheist views. I would say that maybe you don't.
So, I manage to be an atheist and yet not understand what my views are. Talk about some condescending bullcrap right there. This reminds me of my post about actually listening to people.

The thing is, I've done this dance before. On another blog forum, I got really frustrated at a guy who kept saying that I was making a "leap of faith" by saying that there "was no God". Even though I explained to him ad nauseum that I don't say "there is no God", he kept at it.

I also ran into this recently on a Facebook thread where somebody kept telling me what atheists, myself included, supposedly believe. When I told him that his description of my viewpoint was incorrect, he showed absolutely no interest in know how I actually felt. I guess it's better to just keep pontificating at somebody rather than actually trying to communicate.

I've tried to explain the concept of agnostic atheists and agnostic theists to a lot of these folks, but they don't want to listen for some reason. Why is it so unreasonable to separate the concept of "believing" and "knowing" from one another? I never make the claim that I "know" that there isn't a god, which is quite different from theists who tell me that they "know" that God is real. (And yes, I realize that there are some out there, although I don't seem to run into them all that much. Religious faith usually brings about a certain degree of certainty.)

Honestly, I respect the agnostic position, and even this guy's. I just wish that some of them would show me the same courtesy and take the time to even understand what mine is.