Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label atheism. Show all posts

Thursday, 21 August 2014

By George! -- Christian Lesbian Singers & Platonic "Softy God" Atheisms


Okay, I am trying to take a step back and think about a response to Richard Dawkins latest tweet about how Down's Syndrome fetuses should be aborted for morality's sake. This is a situation where I need to just breathe deeply and process. So I thought I'd just comment quickly about something which doesn't make me want to scream and pull out all my hair.

Here's something calming for your palate. Robert P. George over at First Things has weighed in, sort of, about Christian singer Victoria Beeching. She came out a lesbian last week and endorsed same-sex marriage. She's apparently trying to change Christian views of these things from the inside out -- I suppose if her music is good enough she might have some traction there.

Haha! Yeah, as if that's going to happen.

Anyway, George relates her sexual predilections (ugh!) to the different Platonic atheisms, somehow.
I must confess to not having heard of Victoria Beeching before she made news by publicizing her sexual predilections. But the theology by which she proposes to justify her behavior and demand the approbation of her fellow Christians turns out to be far from new. Plato described and condemned it in his great final work, known to us as “The Laws.” There (at II: 885b4-9) he identifies three forms of “atheism” . . . (or what we might today call “godlessness” or perhaps “secularism”).
I'm not quite sure how this paragraph works, honestly. Anyway, he jumps into three forms of atheists which Plato -- whose hero Socrates got accused of atheism -- outlined. Plato was not friend of atheists, by the way.

The first form is the mere denial of the existence of gods and George recognizes this as the prevalent form of atheism today. I would rephrase this as a mere lack of belief in any gods, but this seems fairly acceptable to me.

The second form is the acceptance of god(s) which play no discernable role in our universe and do not concern themselves with us. George calls this deism which seems reasonable enough to me. Perhaps neo-platonic ideas like the nous or monad would also fall into this category. This would be the fancy pants philosophers' god.

The third form is the soft and fuzzy caring God that I think many non-crazy-fundamentalist Christians may subscribe to. Apparently, according to Plato and Robert George I guess, this is a form of "atheism" deserving of air-quotes. Yeah, that makes no sense to me either.
The third form of “atheism” accepts that there is a God and that God is concerned with human beings. But this “God” is soft-spirited and easily placated or appeased. He makes no stringent moral demands of human beings. He wants us to like ourselves and like him. So it’s fine with him if we do pretty much as we please, whatever we please. He is an “I’m O.K., you’re O.K.” divinity—the perfect deity for an Age of Feeling.
Bzzzzzzzz... sorry, that's not atheism.

It's fascinating to see Christians who believe homosexuality is a mere sexual predilection and who apparently cannot accept the idea of gay Christians.  Somehow people like Victoria Beeching worship the wrong god or are in fact "atheists."

Well, George doesn't see atheisms #1 and #2 along with Dawkins as a threat to Christianity. It's really just a God who will accept gay people for who they are and not be a complete monster. Yes, that's the real challenge to Christianity!
Many believers, however, are being led, as Victoria Beeching has been led, into Plato’s third form of atheism—belief in an imaginary God made in the image and likeness of man, as man is conceived in the pseudo-religion of expressive individualism and me-generation liberalism. It is a most convenient “God” who is always willing to say, “do whatever you feel like doing, darling; I love you just the way you are.”
You mean a God that behaves like a loving 'Father' who accepts their children for who they were created as? You know, like all parents of gay children should behave.

Anyway, that's not atheism it's still theism and many would still call it Christianity. Deal with it, because the times are changing, okay?

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Canada's Christine Shellska Is New Atheist Alliance International President

 Christine Shellska (source)
Atheist Alliance International is a super organization that helped construct the Kasese Humanist Primary School at its original railroad location -- they even sent four volunteers to help! -- and has been a principal supporter ever since. Without their help, we would have never been able to get the funds raised to help buy the land for the new permanent site, bring electricity to the existing building or begin construction on new classrooms in Rukoki.

So, I've had the pleasure of working with Tanya Smith and Stuart Bechman. Now I look forward to working with Christine Shellska! She's the new Atheist Alliance International President.
Christine is currently a PhD candidate (ABD) at the University of Calgary, Department of Communication and Culture, Faculty of Arts. Her research involves studying the rhetorical means by which the intelligent design movement translates religious claims into a form that convinces many to believe it is scientific discourse. She is active in several secular organizations, and in 2011, she prepared a successful application to represent the university’s students, staff and faculty who identify as non-religious, bringing together local, national and international secular groups to endorse the establishment of a Secular Humanist Liaison position at the University of Calgary’s Faith and Spirituality Centre (formerly Multi-Faith Chaplaincy). She also runs a small business, offering a repertoire of specialized graphic design services, and extensive experience in marketing, advertising, corporate communications, and public relations. Christine sees atheism as a site of political engagement; she believes that many of the threats to environmental sustainability, global peace, and social justice stem from irrationalism and superstition, and that reason and compassion are the requisite tools to promote a reality-based understanding of our world, and to counter ignorance, fear and hatred.  Christine joined the AAI Board in May 2012 and served as the Secular World Board Liaison from 2012-2013.
Nice to have a Canadian AAI president! Congratulations, Christine!

Christine is also a co-host on the excellent Canadian podcast Legion of Reason, where I heard this announcement.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Egypt Vows To "Confront Atheism"

Representatives from the Orwellian sounding Ministries of Culture and Endowments meet to discuss their joint campaign against “religious extremism” (source)
So Saudi Arabia Egypt is moving forward with its special government program by the (Orwellian Sounding) Ministry of Endowments and Culture to rid the country of extremism... no wait, atheism.

Ministry of Endowments vows to confront extremism, atheism

Well, so much for minor little things like freedom of conscience. You know, the basic human right to belief or non-belief. They are pushing out some kind of hazy, ill-defined (in English media at least) protocol which will promote groupthink conformity religious purity consolidate "belonging to the country." That doesn't sound the slightest bit discriminatory or xenophobic. No not a smidgen.
The newly agreed protocol aims to “spread true Islam”, away from extremism or atheism, the endowment ministry said in a statement.
All of this is to
... communicate the tolerant values of Islam which extremists have tried to distort in recent years, especially to the youth, whether it is in schools, youth and culture centres, fields or factories.
It seems that, up to now, the government strategy to spread true Islam and communicate the tolerant values of Islam seems to have been arresting atheists.
Ishaq Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said “atheism is not a crime in the law”.

He added that openly atheist Egyptians have been arrested and tried for contempt of religion but said that this has no legal basis, asking: “Is it the role of the Ministry of Youth to fight atheism?”
Then there is this interesting English construction. See if you can parse it.
The two agreed on tackling national issues that are agreed upon and avoid disputed issues that the nation cannot “endure” at this difficult stage via lectures and seminars.
I think this means the government will be sheltering the people and the country from disputed issues that are just too hard for the nation to endure. You know, like atheism and those who question Islam too much.

All of this isn't a really big surprise. I referred to an article in Al Monitor which showed a distressed looking young man sitting on a fence with a fiery holocaust in the background with the title Egypt campaigns against atheism. This was all about the Ministry of Youth fighting atheism with ridiculous sounding government programmesSo I think we can all see a train coming down the tracks here. This doesn't make it any better though. Sort of makes it worse.

Let's not forget Alber Saber who managed to get the hell out of Egypt before they got him for good.

Haaretz Writer: "To Be Depressed Is The Most Proper Atheism"

(source)
Every once in awhile something hits my Google filters that I probably really ought to ignore, but it just gets stuck in my craw. Like this opinion piece over at Haaretz about how the Talmud may help folks like the late  Robin Williams to cope with their depression.

Robin Williams, the Talmud and coping with mental illness

(The article is behind a pay wall but it seems accessible if you click through the above Facebook post.)

My issue isn't so much with what I see is a capitalization of a bad situation to promote religion. I've seen this before when the Anglican minister used my father-in-law's funeral as some kind of religious infomercial. I've come to sort of expect this sort of thing. I was fond of Robin Williams while he was alive and as I learn more about his life, I am even more impressed with this man. So, I personally found this article to be a little too opportunistic, but it's not that.

My real problem is the seemingly non sequitur insertion of this into the middle of the article:
What the Talmud may offer us is a sense that we're not alone in our suffering; that the dead poets of previous generations have been there too.

I am not speaking of finding comfort in God, for as Julia Kristeva notes in “Black Sun,” to be depressed is to be a most proper atheist, to find salvation utterly blocked, to be wholly enclosed within one's suffering.

The Talmudic sages lived amidst loss, and their approaches carry the weight of that experience.
And the subtitle to the article is:
Judaism offers no solution to depression - for to be depressed is to be a most proper atheist, with salvation utterly blocked - but the Talmud may guide us in using our tragedy to better our circumstances.
I realize these are words blogger Elie Jesner is quoting, but he is showing agreement and one would assume understanding. My brain either does not properly compute this or refuses to accept he really thinks this way.

Where did this idea come from? What does this mean? Does Jesner really believe that proper atheism is achieved through depression? Does he actually believe that to be an atheist means one is wholly enclosed within one's suffering? I mean, has he ever actually met an atheist?

I wrote a comment expressing how, in an otherwise okay article, I found this insertion to be rather insulting and rather unnecessary. Does it not utterly dehumanize atheists into being the most pathetic and base individuals possible -- mere husks of human beings?

Sometimes I think that authors simply do not take into account that atheists could actually be real, living human beings who could read their works -- or, perhaps, that they even exist at all. Perhaps they believe they are merely mythical beasts?

It really bothers me that in this day and age, people could actually apparently know so little about atheism and atheists as to believe this stuff.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Saudi Religious Police Call On Government To Arrest Atheist Bloggers

(source)
So it looks like the Saudi Religious Police (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) is itching to arrest more Saudi atheist bloggers.
Manama: Saudi Arabia’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has asked the interior ministry to arrest several people for apostasy and atheism.

The commission did not divulge the number of people whose arrest it requested, but it said that they insulted God and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

It added in a report about its work and achievements that it was coordinating closely with the telecommunication and information technology commission to block and shut down pornographic sites as well as sites that promote apostasy and atheism.
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who is himself a Muslim but supports the rights of atheists to express themselves,  is still facing 1,000 lashes and $260,000 fine for blogging in 2012. Well, now it looks like the government could be gearing up for a full fledged theocratic crackdown against its own citizens' human right to free speech.

All of this is in light of a recent Salon article covering an apparent explosion of atheism within the Kingdom, where it is banned by law.

This isn't a surprise, the Saudi religious police have been making noises about hunting down atheist websites and taking out their administrators since at least June.

Somewhat less surprising is the crackdown on pornography. Quite a bit more surprising is a crackdown on computer applications with the wrong version of the Quran on them!
Violations also included the use of misleading mobile and computer applications and erroneous electronic versions of the Quran.
Seem crazy to you? It seems nutbars to me. I would laugh, but people's lives are being destroyed over this nonsense.

This is the same country that has outlawed Valentines Day, has a special wing of their police force to fight witches and has a populace that overwhelmingly believes that women are to blame for being evil temptresses whenever they get sexually harassed. Yet, they are a member of the UN Council on Human Rights and western governments seem perfectly happy selling them machines to oppress their own people.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Turkish Atheist Group Suing Islamic Scholar For Libel

Dr. Nihat Hatipoğlu (source)
In Turkey, an Islamic religious scholar (elsewhere called a 'pundit'), Dr. Nihat Hatipoğlu, said some ridiculous and potentially damaging stuff on a television programme recently and now he's being sued by the Turkish atheist group Ateizm Derneği (Atheism Association).

Atheists file lawsuit against scholar Hatipoğlu over insulting remarks

In an interview on a national station, he brings out a few of the common canards that theists drag out. He starts out with the notion that atheism is merely a rebellion because, deep down inside, us atheists actually do believe in God. Then he adds the that old mouldy chestnut that there are no atheists in foxholes.
Releasing a written statement about the issue, Ateizm Derneği argued that Hatipoğlu, during a Ramadan program titled “Nihat Hatipoğlu ile İftar Saati" aired in July by the private ATV channel, which is broadcast throughout the country, exceeded the limits of criticism by insulting atheists with the words: "Every atheist in fact resorts to God. I do not believe that any of them indeed deny God. Those who claim that they deny God are just lying. Whenever they are in trouble, they take refuge in God. When they feel helpless, they seek the help of God."
You know, the entire meaning of atheist is someone who, by definition, doesn't believe in God. Hatipoğlu is making that tired old claim that atheists do not exist, which is more or less equivalent to me declaring that the idea of God is too silly to be really honestly believed by anyone -- ergo there are no real theists. Presto!

Apparently he also said this.
"Any creation or substance is evidence of the existence of God. Personally, I do not think atheists deny God. Even devils do not deny God. The devil admits that God created it [the devil]. It is aware that God is the creator. So, atheists' greatest father is the devil. In short, the devil is more pure than the atheists."
I cannot follow this strange logic, but it seems to imply that atheists believe in and follow Satan. This is forming the basis of the libel suit by Ateizm Derneği against him. A statement from them sums this up.
"With these words and comments, Hatipoğlu is trying to portray atheists as the source of every evil in society by associating us with the devil. Also, his statements label us as children of the devil. All these comments aim to instigate hatred and antagonism, which already exist in society, towards atheists

The statement further claimed that Hatipoğlu has contributed to increased polarization among people through these words and that he aimed to marginalize a certain part of society that holds different philosophical views, aiming to humiliate them in the eyes of the public.
Hatipoğlu has recently offered a nonpology.
However, speaking to Today's Zaman, Hatipoğlu said that his remarks had been distorted, explaining: "We love and respect atheists. My words have been distorted. Some media outlets have not taken into consideration what I really said about them. In short, atheists claim that they do not worship Allah, but they resort to Allah when they are in trouble. It indicates that they indeed believe in Allah. There are many atheists whom I know personally, and they have strong consciences, but they cannot go beyond what they think is true. We never underestimate them."
No, no they don't. I really don't think he gets it.

Incidentally, Dr. Nihat Hatipoğlu is called a television preacher by Hurriyet Daily News. Apparently he's the country's most popular televangelist who's raking in over $300,000 Canadian this past month long celebration of Ramadan.
Top of the list is Islamic scholar Nihat Hatipoğlu, who has clinched a contract worth 600,000 liras with ATV for 30 episodes of his trademark Ramadan program, according to daily Vatan.
I'm guessing this sort of talk might help his ratings out a bit by spicing up the show.

You can find slightly differently rendered English translations at this alternate story.

Ateizm Derneği's Facebook page has nearly 40K likes, so go check it out!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Oh, And Another Thing


Oh, and another thing when it comes to that post I made yesterday about Salon writer Daniel D'Addario's utter horror felt after watching a single day of the fledgling AtheistTV's programming.

This channel doesn't have large media corporations backing it. It's really a collection of media that's being produced by the community for the community.

If Daniel, who is a staff reporter for Salon's entertainment section, believes he can help make excellent content for the channel, then maybe he should step up to the plate. Maybe he knows some people who know people who could lend some good talent to the channel.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Salon Writer "Horrified" By Atheist TV

Some art by yours truly. (source)
Well, it looks like American Atheists must be doing something right with their new television channel because Salon, the juggernaut of anti-(New)-Atheist drivel has come up with a real stinker.

It is so terrible and random that I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just throw a couple of comments out there.

I spent a day watching AtheistTV — and it was horrifying

Daniel D'Addario's -- who assures us all he is a bonafide atheist -- appears to have a problem with anything that mocks religion.
AtheistTV adheres to nasty stereotypes about atheism — smugness, gleeful disregard for others’ beliefs — to a degree that’s close to unwatchable.
When I first tuned in at 2 p.m. on Thursday, the closing credits for a show were scrolling, set to a parody hymn that rhymed “Don’t be offended by a word to the wise” with “There’s no real estate in the skies.”
After the second broadcast of a single “Atheist Experience” episode, the channel showed a 2012 rally in Washington, D.C.; speakers consistently described a future in which all Americans would join the movement, a future that they’d get to by mocking and hassling the beliefs of others.
Is D'Addario an atheist who does not at all see any utterly absurd and even potentially harmful beliefs within religion? Does he revere and honour the sincerely held beliefs of millions that he is a harmful person who is destined to Hell because of his atheism? How can anyone honestly do this?
Then, after several seconds of dead air, came a prerecorded call-in show called ”The Atheist Experience,” whose co-host Matt Dillahunty, wearing a black Hawaiian-style shirt decorated with flames and infinity symbols, needed no prompting to begin his show with the Biblical story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. “This is just absolutely horrible,” said Dillahunty. “And it’s the type of thing we get when we begin with the idea that the Bible is true and good, and you run into absurdities.”
Listen, AtheistTV is in its infancy. Most of the programmes on there are simply existing shows and there just isn't a wide enough selection of shows yet. Chill out, this will get better. And would it be better for D'Addario if Dillahunty were wearing a suit with nice hair and fake teeth?

Anyway, has he even considered the story of Abraham and Isaac? It is absolutely terrible and the Bible is quite full of absurdities -- D'Addario apparently doesn't know of any at all. He also either has no clue about the story itself or doesn't see any problem at all with dragging your son to the top of a mountain and traumatizing him for life.
What absurdities these were the viewer would have to fill in for himself; there was no extrapolation from this story in terms of what social ills have happened in the name of God, no sense that Dillahunty was bothered by people following the Bible for any reason other than that he thinks it’s nuts to rely on a book for wisdom and guidance. “I don’t worship any being,” he said, “though I respect a lot of people and a lot of fictional characters.”
WERE YOU NOT LISTENING, DANIEL?

Then there's this part.
AtheistTV frames atheism as a perpetual reaction against a conquering force. And that reaction isn’t reasoned debate. It’s unattractive nihilism.
You know, atheism is sort of a perpetual reaction against a conquering force -- perhaps even an occupying force. The name kind of gives it away: a-theism. If the theism stopped trying to control everyone's lives and brainwashing children into believing fairy stories atheism would pretty much no longer be a thing.

It makes me wonder if D'Addario simply grew up with his atheism and has never had to really consider religion at all -- perhaps it's just that pretty incense laden ritual that those folks do every week before crowding into buffets to eat their Sunday lunches. Maybe belief in one thing is just as valid and true as belief in anything else and for him beliefs have no consequences whatsoever.

And it's not meant to be attractive. It just needs to be true.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Atheism Didn't Cause 'King Richard' to Tweet That!

Richard Dawkins in a picture that doesn't make him look like an evil ogre. (source)
I give Elissa Strauss over at the Jewish Daily Forward kudos for clarity. She gives a very concise illustration of an underlying malevolent sentiment which I have lately found to be obfuscated in current coverage of Richard Dawkins' most recent Twitter gaffe. Up to this point, I thought I would have to dig through the innuendo to get to the underlying implied messaging against atheists but Strauss makes it clear as day.

In her post, When Atheists Talk About Rape -- rather than 'when Dawkins talks about rape' -- not far below the requisite ugliest-and-most-unflattering-picture-of-Dawkins-one-can-find, she concludes with the following gross generalization.
Dawkins comments don’t just expose his own capability for misguided thinking, but of Atheism’s as well. His thoughts on rape reveal what happens when Atheism becomes as much an orthodoxy as any religion, a belief system through which all thoughts and feelings must be processed and any lingering subjectivity sidelined. This tendency hardly appears to a predominant one among Atheists, but it is clearly a risk just like it is in more literal-minded approaches to Judaism, Christianity or Islam.

Dawkins has faith in science and logic. He believes in finding order through categorization, logic and proof. Except the experience of something like rape, which happens to individuals in a wide variety of circumstances and is colored by their personal histories and emotional make-ups, just can’t be subjected to any scientific system. Sure we can work hard to find a societally-agreed upon definition of rape for our legal system, but the actual effect it has on a victim is something only that victim gets to decide.

As our society continues to polarize, or at least as the media reports it, into firm believers and non-believers, it is crucial that both sides make room for the subjective nature of the individual experience and don’t let whatever orthodoxies guide them to get in the way. Otherwise we find ourselves doing something like, eh, ranking rape.
Eh, a lack of belief in a god does not in any way affect opinion on rape. One need only look at popular atheist blogs and the Twitter machine to discover that the very largest group of those who were offended are very likely to be atheists -- you know, people who care what Dawkins tweets late at night.

And this religion of atheism. Do tell me more about how being certain we do not believe in a god turns us into inhuman, unfeeling, cold and scientific steel-hearted robots. I assume Elissa doesn't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster (tomato sauce be upon him). I therefore feel sorry for her inevitable lack of emotional and spiritual depth.

One more thing. Dawkins is only the most famous atheists; the most influential atheist; the most followed, adored, revered, worshipped Pope of all atheists because a mostly hostile media have elected him to be so. They were also the ones to coin the term 'New Atheists.' There is nothing new about those who do not wish to grovel to any deity or man - we are called freethinkers and they have been around probably since the beginning. It's just that we no longer wish to remain silently accepting the unproven nonsense that is theism and we will now speak out -- even if we risk being called fundamentalists.

But then, this isn't really about Dawkins at all.

There is one point in Strauss' conclusion upon which both I and many many many atheists agree: the actual effect it has on a victim is something only that victim gets to decide. Although things like laws must, by nature, be objective, Dawkins' tweets did indeed lack sensitivity and non-believers were the very first ones to point this out.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Egyptian Government Launches Initiative Against Atheist Youth

(source)
Take a look at the tragic looking picture above an article over at Al Monitor. It looks like something's on fire and things are just too dire for that poor person to cope. Is the city being attacked? Asteroid collision? Oh no, it's just Egypt campaigning against atheism! Scariest... thing... evah.

Egypt campaigns against atheism

The summary for this article, originally written by Ahmed Fouad in Arabic, goes like this.
The Egyptian government begins a new program to combat the rise of atheism; however, activists question whether this increase is even real.
Nevermind for now why the government sees atheism as something to be campaigned against. It's the usual destruction of civilization(!) stuff you hear from theocratic regimes. I was interested in the perceived causes of this supposed increase in atheism. I say supposed because one of the primary criticisms of this article is whether there are millions or thousands of atheists in the country. It seems like nobody knows -- for the obvious reason that who but the bravest of soul come out in a government that's constitutionally Islamic and out to fight atheism.
Pastor Abdul Massih Bassit, who is concerned about atheism, told Al-Monitor: “There are no statistics and each part of society randomly estimates the size of the phenomenon. Atheists estimate their own number on their Facebook pages at between 2 [million] and 4 million Egyptians, while certain pastors say that their number is not more than 1,000-2,000.” 
According to Nuamat Sati, who is in charge of the campaign at the Ministry of Youth, estimates are based on a single TV show! No, really!
Sati said, “Both the ministries of awqaf and youth have based their estimations on a TV show in which atheists have a significant representation, in addition to Facebook and Twitter accounts where the number of followers have largely increased, which means that they are now publicly announcing their atheism.” Yet, her statement is not necessarily accurate evidence of the spread of atheism, but it could simply mean that atheists are more courageous or outspoken today.
Although some blame the January 25th revolution in Egypt for disillusioning the youth, Sati thinks it's that nasty Internet exposing youth to ideas 'they are not ready for.'
Sati said that she does not directly connect the spread of atheism with the January 25 Revolution. Yet, she linked it to the use of social media networks and the Internet after the revolution, which allowed the youth to connect with new cultures they were not yet ready to deal with. “This is in addition to the fact that the January 25 Revolution broke the fear barrier for youth, which led atheists to publicly announce themselves on television and social media networks,” she said.
Thank goodness for the nanny state telling everyone how they ought to think.

Naturally, people emboldened enough to publicly share their atheism -- you know, human rights(!) -- simply will not do in Egypt. I cannot help but add: where's the Canadian Office of Religious Freedom to stand up for these people now? -- I keep asking... I keep asking...
“The campaign has two goals,” Sati told Al-Monitor, “The first is to spread awareness concerning the dangers of atheism and how it creates a threat to society, as well as the controversial issues that might push the youth to atheism. The second is to treat this phenomenon by having a dialogue with atheists and giving them a chance to reconsider their decisions and go back to their religion.”
I would be interested to know what they believe these dangers of atheism are and how it creates a threat to society. Unfortunately, this is assumed to be known by all readers of the story.
Clergy, psychologists and social experts will train the youth and try to find answers to questions raised by youth which might push them to atheism.
Meaning they do not have answers to these questions already? After all this time? Should they not be constantly asking these questions? I wonder how many of these experts, in all their searching, might themselves discover they no longer belief it themselves.

Like the situation in the US and Canada, it's not certain how many people are atheists due to the fear of being oppressed by government and society. I'm pretty sure things are much rougher in Egypt. Just take a look at Alber Saber's plight.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Charles Moore: 'Atheists Are So So Sad'

(source)
I've been sitting on this review of Nick Spencer's new book, Atheists: The Origin of the Species, by Charles Moore over at the Telegraph for awhile now and figured now's as good a time as any to unload it onto my beloved readers. I did, however, write a little about Michael Collins' review of the same book where I was actually more fascinated by a strange Christian admiration of Nietzsche and Camus.

The sad business of trying to disprove God

Well, let us now examine this new textbook quality screed against the New atheists together, shall we? Please feel free to take out any common tired chestnut bingo cards you may have -- I really ought to make some.

First off, the title, The sad business of trying to disprove God. Nobody is trying to disprove God in the general sense -- well, not people like Dawkins anyway. Although, it is possible to find internal inconsistencies with God theories when they are defined properly -- or at all -- which can disprove those Gods.

The really tough gods to disprove are the vast majority, which are so ill-defined as to be utterly meaningless. The cannot be addressed in any logical fashion and hence cannot be proven to exist in any substantial way. You can squint your eyes and make believe, but that is not basis of proof.

The burden of proof lies squarely on the shoulders of the theist. Dawkins, like many New Atheists have merely examined what proof he has found or has been given and is unconvinced.  It would be nice if Charles Moore would provide proof for God in this article, but instead we're left with the same chestnuts.

Chestnut: They're all emotionless, robotic, science, man nerds.

Moore starts out with a light stereotyping of the average teenage atheist, who is a male, nerdy science type with no knowledge of the arts whatsoever.
You often meet them for the first time at secondary school. The typical teenage atheist is more likely a boy than a girl, stronger on science than the arts, and at the high-ish end of the academic spectrum. He tells you that he has studied the nature of matter, the universe etc, and can prove that God does not exist.
The problem with this teenager and Moore's argument is he's failing to say which God is being shown not to exist. This archetypal teenager is making the same critical error as many theists who claim to be able to prove their god -- prove 'what' exactly? Who knows, not my job. How this teenager is an example of New Atheists is a mystery to me.

Chestnut: Religion cannot be studied by science.

Moore predictably pulls in non-overlapping magisteria and with a sort of smug omniscience, puts a boundary on the scientific enterprise. Apparently, science can have nothing to say about God -- it's verboten. This tool which has proven so useful in examining the evidence for any other truth claim out there is ill-equipped to deal with religion and I would have to agree. It's because any concrete claims religions out there have are so ill-defined or completely unfalsefiable that they seem to reduce to utter gibberish when examined under the critical eye of the scientific method -- that is, if they do not disintegrate utterly under the weight of their own internal logical inconsistencies first.

Like art, religion can be comforting, beautiful, inspiring and utterly nonsensical. Unlike art, religion does make truth claims which affect our physical world. Wherever it interfaces with the physical world it can be assessed by science.

Chestnut: Atheists are just rebelling against god/state/society.

Then we get that old idea that atheism is born from rebellion against authority. While in reality, it is nothing more than a non-belief in god. I would add that it is a rejection of a mostly nonsensical and ill-defined theory with about as many flavours as religionists.

Chestnut: Atheists are all smarty pants intellectuals elites.

We also find the canard that atheists are all smarty pant know-it-alls who believe theists are all dumb dumbs. I'll concede that some do and this is unfortunate. Still, the whole point of the Brights was to be a positive term for atheists, not to imply anything derogatory of believers.
In the current era of Richard Dawkins and the New Atheism, many atheists call themselves the “Brights”, pleased to make the rest of us out as dullards.
This is not the case and I would point out that there are quite a few theists out there who claim to know all the important answers, including what science is capable or not capable of doing.

Chestnut: Dawkins believes he's proved religion is hogwash and he's anti-woman and anti-poor(?) Moore's proof is? I suppose it's nothing more than an analogy.
Some atheists – Dawkins, Sigmund Freud, AJ Ayer – resemble, in essence, that clever young schoolboy. They believe they have brilliantly proved religion to be a load of hogwash. In their minds, it seems an advantage that their creed does not appeal as much to women or the poor and ignorant. 
Chestnut: Once again, the curious Theist Cult of Nietzsche:
Indeed, Friedrich Nietzsche saw more deeply how European society’s moral order would collapse with the destruction of faith – but welcomed it.
Chestnut: Required reference to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler, Lenin, etc.
People such as Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler took up such thoughts with deadly enthusiasm.
Chestnut: New Atheism is an expression of anger.
Spencer believes that the New Atheism is an expression of anger at the curious phenomenon that all over the world, except among white Westerners, God is back.
Of course it's a reaction to theism! New atheism is just atheism that is not afraid to make itself heard. Point finale. Although atheists do have plenty to be angry about and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with this anger.


But here's a particularly new charge that I've yet to see until now.
This leads to the question: “Is atheism parasitic on religion?” There is something unsatisfactory about building your thought around an anti-faith. Some atheists – amusingly catalogued here – have noticed this, and set up Cults of Reason, secular societies and atheist chapels, trying, rather unsuccessfully, to reproduce the communal creativity of faith. Hamlet says: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Any imaginative atheist must sometimes be troubled by this thought, and worry that his ideas are so dependent on the very thing he opposes.
What the hell?

No, actually there is something wholly satisfactory about not building my thought around faith! I was fundamentally unhappy and dissatisfied during my religious days when I would examine the tenets and have them all fall apart utterly under with the slightest inspection. It was sad days wandering about from religion to religion looking for one that made the slightest bit of sense and could stand up to even a modicum of examination. I would find a new one and it would unravel into absurdity the longer I would test it.
... Cults of Reason, secular societies and atheist chapels, trying, rather unsuccessfully, to reproduce the communal creativity of faith.
No, actually there is something to be said for not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. This is a reflection of the human need for community as well as the recognition that the only way atheists can ever hope to be heard in the public sphere is by banding together into groups.
Hamlet says: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Any imaginative atheist must sometimes be troubled by this thought, and worry that his ideas are so dependent on the very thing he opposes.
How utterly ironic of Moore to tell atheists that they ought to be troubled by there being more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy! Set the Bible, a Bronze Age book with talking bushes next to either Cosmos series to start. If these things are beyond this book, then perhaps someone could share the details so they can be properly studies. I'm willing to learn.

Because I'm wholly unimpressed with what I've read in the Bible or Quran.

Chestnut: Atheists cannot possibly understand Love, because only love can believe the Resurrection. Whatever the hell that means, it certainly sounds rather dehumanizing, doesn't it? This one hurts the most.

Toronto Book Launch: Carolyn Hyppolite's "Still Small Voices"


Last week, Canadian author Carolyn Hyppolite was nice enough to send me a copy of her new book Still Small Voices: The Testimony of a Born Again Atheist. I'm just on page 50 but I'm already fascinated by her story. It recounts the story of a black woman grappling with faith -- coming to grips with her own irrational and ultimately unsatisfying reliance on religion. It's very much about a struggle between what's comforting and what's real. You can read more on the book's website.
Still Small Voices is a frank, personal account of a young woman’s struggle to have a personal relationship with Jesus and the freedom she discovered when she gave up on God. This book is a mixture of personal testimony, analysis and arguments. In her reflection, she recounts stories of particular moments during her eight year experience as a Christian when she found herself hearing another “still small voice,” the voice of reason, which constantly whispered that something about the Biblical worldview does not add up. Throughout the book, she records her efforts to ignore and suppress that voice and how ultimately, she had to relent. 
A full review is on its way as soon as I finish the book but until then, if you're in the Toronto area, why not drop by the book launch, tomorrow? It's being hosted by the CFI.

Date: Friday 25 July 2014
Time: 7-9pm
Location: At the new CFI Canada Office
55 Eglinton Avenue East
Suite #307
By Yonge and Eglinton
Free admission.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

#FBBCON14: David Smalley

Dogma Debate host and former Christian musician, David Smalley. (source)
It must be all that time as a songwriter and in radio, because David Smalley really knows how to cut through clutter, get to the point and then nail it down with elegant succinctness.

His talk at the Humanism at Work conference last weekend was all about keeping it simple (aka KISS). This is the most effective way of using media to communicate a need and to successfully show them what they can do to help.

The presentation was just 30 minutes long, but in a flash of inspiration, it opened my eyes about what I was doing wrong in my own fundraising efforts up to this point. Keep it simple. It's the idea of having an...
"... aligned non-threatening dollar amount with a specific goal..."
Large, vague dollar amounts shown in progress meters are daunting to the average giver. Imagine yourself going to a website that has a $35,000 goal with just $15 contributed so far.  The project goal is lofty -- Build a School In Uganda! -- and the quip on the page 'Every little bit helps' does little to dissuade your concerns that your little piddly donation is not even close to being significant at all. That was my last fundraiser.
"Every little bit helps... What does he mean by 'a little bit?'"
David gave one of his own stories. He did all the complex research to figure out how to best help seniors at a long-term care facility who were cut off from two meals a day due to the Republican-caused government shutdown last year. After days of research, he boiled the details down to a simple message for his potential donors: $2.50 feeds a senior citizen for seven days. That's the message. Now how much can you help? One of his co-hosts put it brilliantly.
"That's crazy. None of this know this. And so, if more people knew it. I'd be like 'Ah, I guess I'll not buy that Starbucks today and feed six people."
With simplicity, Dogma Debate raised enough to feed the seniors for the whole year and even had enough money left over to purchase a freezer for the seniors facility.

It might seem obvious, but this was a bit of a revelation for me. Yes, you need to communicate the need in the simplest way possible, but many people are already painfully aware of so much need everywhere. The true key here is give people easy to understand opportunities to make a tangible difference.

Thanks to David's presentation, I will change my strategy. My new goal is to build a sort of web-based marketplace where people can go and actually buy individual chickens for the coop, feed bags, bricks for the new classroom construction, new uniforms, tuition for a year for a child, etc. Large projects are achieved by breaking them up into small achievable goals that help to build people's enthusiasm and momentum. I'll likely start with a WordPress theme but if anyone has any suggestions about how to do this, please chip in!

A big thank you to David Smalley for what he does and his inspirational talk at Humanism at Work!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

'Atheist Group' Flies Swastika Banner Over Coney Island

Model of a proposed embassy the Raëlians wish to build in Cambodia. (source)
I am of mixed opinions about articles like this one that appeared on the Gant Daily website: Atheist group flies swastika banner over Coney Island. In addition to the headline, it starts off by burning a strong association between a swastika-promoting UFO cult and the phrase 'atheist group.'
An atheist group flew a swastika banner over beaches in Coney Island and parts of Long Island on Saturday angering some residents and politicians.
I suppose this group doesn't believe in any gods -- especially the Christian one, but wouldn't UFO Cult be a little more apt here?
The Movement believes that extraterrestrials created humans and other forms of life on Earth. It also believes that the swastika is a peace sign and was an ancient symbol of well-being to Hindus and Buddhists, among others.
This would be the Raelian movement, not the atheist movement. Yes, yes, I know that technically you can be an atheist and believe in any amount of woo, but this seems a little gratuitous... right? I mean, 'atheist group' should imply more towards American Atheists or CFI.

Or is my annoyance at this not warranted? Am I being hypocritical here? How many times have I seen charges from 'our side' laid against Christianity by pointing at David Koresh or Jonestown?

So, I guess I have to admit the Raelians into the atheist tent but I still believe there was something a little sneaky and underhanded going on over at the Gant Daily when they distilled 'atheist group' from the fertile bed of woo that is the Rael religion. Atheism is only a minor quirk with this  human-cloning- and UFO-believing group.

The Christian Science Monitor also picked this story up but didn't sum up a UFO cult as a mere 'atheist group.' They did make the atheist connection, but kept this inside a quote from the Raelians themselves.
Raelians believe in an “atheist intelligent design theory” in which cosmic scientists cloned life on earth and now return in UFOs to visit. For them, the swastika embedded in a Star of David represents the infinity of time and space.
Both stories mention the long history -- the symbol is still in wide use by religions unrelated to Nazism -- but mention that the symbol still obviously hits too close to home for most Americans. Images of the Holocaust and even modern-day Neo Nazism are the most clear associations.

Still, as America becomes more multicultural, people may need to pay heed to the Raelians more -- as goofy as that sounds -- and try to recognize the context in which the symbol is presented before being offended. I'm not downplaying how painful it will be for many to see this symbol of so much hatred and death in Europe used to symbolize peace and good luck, but presumably members of these ancient religions also have a right to use this symbol.

Edit 2014-07-16: I changed 'sensual-massage, poly-amorous, human-cloning, UFO-believing group' to 'human-cloning- and UFO-believing group'. I did this because not only do I know poly people but I am in a poly relationship myself. Also, on second thought, there's nothing wrong with 'sensual-massage' if it's between two or more consenting adults. Either way, you can surely see how there are plenty more succulent morsels here than mere atheism for a news outlet to latch onto.

Swastika on Korean temple. (source)

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Things I Like: Wonkette's Coverage of Atheist News

(source)
I may be an atheist blogger, but I have a dirty little secret to share. My favourite blog is not an atheist blog because I'm a big Wonk. Specifically, I'm a Canadian who finds US politics highly entertaining, amusing, terrifying, etc. I would love to work for them for actual money but I have so much to learn.

Here are a couple of atheist-related posts on this satirical(!) politics blog. Remember, this is often a parody of how politics looks through the lens of right-wing conservative types. Often so much insight can be gained from satire.

Here are the links along with some quotes so it looks like this is a real blog post.

Nice Time! Canadian Teen Makes Sure Students Can Learn About Slut Pills
Oh, well that must have been some sort of Canadian abstinence organization because any good American organization knows not to lie about this stuff when oh christ we can’t even finish that sentence without lolsobbing.
Federal Judges Ramming Atheist Wedding Officiants Down Indiana's Throat
It’s been a rough couple years for good old traditional Jesus marriage. You had the Supreme Court make DOMA go away last year, and then pretty much every state, even the super-conservative ones, have been all like “sure, get gay married, whatevs.” Weirdly, the Republic has not yet collapsed, but the final straw probably just got laid atop America’s coffin, or some equally overheated metaphor, because the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that godless atheists can perform wedding ceremonies in Indiana. America, you had a good run.
Thank me (or not) later!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Atheist TV & My Fear Of Yet Another Television Box

Some art by yours truly. (source)
Over the past few years, I've noticed that I've been more and more out of the loop when it comes to new technology. Now, most of my kidless co-workers are much more informed about watching television than me.

So when I heard about this new Atheist TV channel coming out at the end of this month, I was pretty enthusiastic, and pretty intimidated by this whole Roku thing. You see, I spent seven years compiling my own Linux kernels with not a single Microsoft box in the house. Then, after a particularly vile fight with a printer driver I threw my hands up in the air and decided that -- with a kid -- I no longer had time to deal with Linux and so I bought a Mac.

Actually, I had an Ipod Shuffle already. That's how Apple infected me. So, it seemed only natural, after my wife got an Ipad and my son got an Ipad for me to purchase an Apple TV.

I like the little hockey puck, but I notice that, other than Netflix, which works just fine, Apple has me in a sort of stranglehold. Apparently Roku brings me more freedom, but do I want YET ANOTHER BOX?

Such as First World Problems. We just recently got rid of our VHS player and we still have a non HD cable box going into the television set. The overlapping functionality between a Roku and an Apple TV bothers me at some deep geeky level! Can I stand this functional redundancy?!?

Luckily, American Atheists says I'll be able to watch the station online for free. I'll give that a go first.

I've got an idea for a television show too -- related to the School in Uganda. It would involved getting an HD camera and maybe a mic out there. I wonder if anyone would watch?

Michael Robbins & The Theist Cult of Nietzsche

(source)
By now I'm certain that many of you would have had the chance to encounter Michael Robbins review of this new book by Nick Spencer, Atheists: The Origin of the Species over at Slate. Robbins deserves a medal for the title of the article, Know Nothing: The true history of atheismIf you scroll down, a header appears at the top reading: 'Atheists used to take the idea of God seriously . That's why they mattered.'  If it's meant to be click bait, it worked with over 6,500 comments after a mere four days. Although I find these articles frustrating, something else is beginning to bother me even more. I just don't get where these articles are coming from.

The trouble starts as early as the first two paragraphs. This is where Robbins bemoans the popular idea that religion once touted the answers to life the universe and everything but then reason and science came along and gradually took it away from the clergymen one fact at a time. He points out that even the church fathers would have been confused by those who see Science and Faith in constant opposition.
... setting up an opposition between reason and faith that the church fathers would have found rather puzzling.
Yes, the church fathers would have likely found this rather puzzling. They thought having faith in that which there was not sufficient evidence was perfectly reasonable. Science has achieved an impressive body of knowledge that requires no Spanish Inquisition to buttress it.

As atheists, we have access to a bottomless ocean of Christian faith trying to pass itself off as proof for God. But it's evidence we require in our modern world where mere strongly held religious belief and mere faith is not adequate evidence for a proposition to be true. This is what the scientific method has brought us -- this is what gives it its power over battling feelings and emotions.

Now religion pretends to know more than simple natural phenomena. It pretentiously boasts knowledge of all time and space through its books of Genesis and Revelation. It claims to know both the natural and the supernatural in its entirety. It sets up a being who it claims knows the thoughts and hearts of all men and women for all times past and future. Surely, this bolder claim attempts to annex even the natural phenomena relegated to science. If this is not Robbins' Christian views, then I submit that it is the case for the ignorant multitude, the οἱ πολλοί, whether he likes it or not.
To be sure, several scriptures offer, for instance, their own accounts of creation. But Christians have recognized the allegorical nature of these accounts since the very beginnings of Christianity. 
Allegory is a natural escape for anyone who wishes to gloss over logical contradictions in their holy books. Though it comes with a price. Each time one of these escape hatches is cut into a wall, the more weakened its supporting function. How many escape hatches does Robbins have cut through the walls supporting his faith edifice? Are there any walls left? Is the structure still standing? Is his scripture merely a collection of feel good Aesop's fables?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Republican Candidate & Former Chaplain: Exorcise The Atheists!

Gordon Klingenschmitt. Future member of Colorado State House? (source)
I usually let other blogs cover the American news and try to keep this one more focused on Canadian or international stories. Sometimes, though, the cray is so intense from down there, I just cannot ignore it. Take, for example, the recent comments by Colorado state house Republican Candidate and former military chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Klingenschmitt was reacting to the US Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal brought forward by a Wisconsin school district. The district was successfully sued by Americans United for Separation of Church and State for holding its graduation ceremony in a church.

Anyway, Klingenschmitt thinks that what whiny atheists need is a good old fashioned exorcism to chase out the demons with which they are obviously possessed -- why else would they be atheists? Then they'd stop complaining about having to sit in churches.
"If the atheist complainer is so uncomfortable when they walk into a church that there's something inside of them squirming and making them feel these feelings of hatred toward the cross of Jesus Christ, don't you think it's something inside of the atheist complainer that's wrong?"

"I have a solution," he continued. "Let's do an exorcism and cast the Devil out of them and then they'll feel comfortable when they walk into church..."
Although some atheists may feel uncomfortable in churches -- due, perhaps to real trauma -- many have no problems with this. I think churches are magnificent buildings. I just have problems with public schools endorsing a particular religion, that's all.

Also, some atheists may not be keen on Jesus, while others have no problem whatsoever with him. Being an atheist doesn't mean you hate Jesus, or God. It means you don't believe in gods.

Isn't it also nice the way he suggests that there is something flawed or wrong with 'the atheist?'

Then there's the brilliant solution of forced exorcism. Half joking? Suggesting? Planting the idea of gross human rights violations?

I'm pretty sure he's not really serious. Although this could be a good case study for why atheist chaplains are required in the US military.

Hypothetically though, dragging people to get excommunicated reminds me a little of some countries that will throw you in jail if you don't observe Ramadan. Just sayin'.


Atheists In Muslim Countries: Fake Ramadan Or Go To Jail

(source)
Want to know what it's like to live in an oppressive theocracy? Just move one of the hardcore Islam observant countries -- or read this article over at v[]cative: The Fast & The Furious: Atheists Fake Ramadan Hunger to Avoid Jail.
Threats of arrest or punishment for blasphemy force non-believers to give the impression that they’re fasting just as hard as all those around them, or in some cases, to totally adopt the Ramadan fast for fear of being found out and persecuted. The situation is nearly impossible to bear, argue a growing number of atheists in the Muslim world.
It's not just peer pressure or social stigmatization of atheists. In several countries it's the very definition of theocratic oppression. This is being felt increasingly as the number of covert atheists increase in countries such as Saudi Arabia -- perhaps due to the severe government enforcement of dogma.
“The constant threat of being caught not fasting, which carries severe punishment of lashings and up to a year in prison, makes one vigilant and worried. Ramadan is like Christmas but you are forced to go to Mass and say your prayers, by law”. 
Imagine that! A religion completely in control of a country's government, forbidding everyone from eating, drinking, having sex! What could possibly be more authoritarian?
“I stay at work without food but every now and then I go to the bathroom to drink water, and when I’m going in the morning to work I go to a hidden place in the car and take a small sandwich.”

Should he ever be found out, the consequences would likely be harsh.

I will lose my job and maybe they will arrest me and put me in jail or they will throw me out of the country. I’m originally from Syria”, says Silver.
It's not just a Middle Eastern thing. Remember Bala Mubarak, who was thrown into a mental hospital in Nigeria for being an atheist.

You know, this is sort of similar to primarily religious anti-choice groups and some Canadian physicians who scream about their religious freedom while attempting to deny birth control coverage to women who do not share their religious belief.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Ariane Sherine Shares Her Brave Struggles With Depression

Ariane Sherine and Richard Dawkins at the Atheist Bus Campaign launch - 2009. (source)
There's a long but fascinating piece over at the Guardian by activist Ariane Sherine about her own dark struggles with mental breakdown and depression. The story intersects with the big splash she made in the atheist and Humanist community back in 2009 when she and Richard Dawkins launched the very first atheist bus sign campaign in the UK. It's well written, full of emotion and well worth the read.
A former boyfriend attacked me nine years ago, destroying my mental health – but I am no longer ashamed. I want people to know life can get better
It's incredibly brave and strong of her to be telling this story which might help others see that mental health problems can happen to absolutely anybody and there are ways to deal with them and come back out into the light. The stigma against mental illness is truly disgusting and it only makes things all the more unbearable for people who are trying to deal with depression.

At the start, she recounts that her troubles began with a boyfriend who physically abused her. She was pregnant with his child at the time.
Nine years ago I was newly pregnant when I was violently attacked by my boyfriend at the time. We were having an argument; he hit me in the face causing my ear to bleed, then clamped his hand over my mouth, suffocating me, and told me repeatedly that he would kill me. He said afterwards that the incident only lasted 20 seconds, but those 20 seconds were to change my whole life irrevocably.
She later had an abortion -- over which she agonized because of religion-induced guilt.
I left him and had a termination, which I agonised over for weeks because I had been so happy to be pregnant, and had already named the baby. It was very early on so I could take the abortion pill, RU-486, but when I searched for information on abortion online, thousands of pro-life Christian websites came up with enlarged pictures of foetuses sucking their thumbs, and threats that if I had an abortion, I would be sure to die of breast cancer and go to hell. A Catholic friend gave me the number of a Catholic "helpline" where they tried to dissuade me from going through with the abortion. I was so vulnerable after the termination I was scared to fall asleep in case I died and went to hell.
After a year of utter pain and suffering -- with much failed therapy and counseling -- she no longer believed in God and was pro-choice and anti-religion. A year after this, she started the atheist bus campaign. Here, she gives a fascinating behind the scenes story of the circus that was to become.
Later that year, I started the atheist bus campaign. The campaign was hellish for two reasons: firstly, I had to appear on TV and radio in studios with the doors and windows shut. I had a panic attack nearly every time – one time live on BBC Breakfast in front of six million viewers, though thankfully the segment ended before anyone realised; one time on the Jeremy Vine show, clutching the producer's hand. Any kind of broadcast media opportunities I might have had were curtailed by my claustrophobia.

Secondly, I started to get threats. Not just one or two, but dozens and dozens filling up my inbox. "If you come to America I will shoot you in the head", "I hope you die", "I hope Jesus kills you" etc. I didn't report them because I thought the police would say "What the hell do you expect, running this kind of incendiary campaign?", and besides, none of them were direct enough to warrant police attention – but I received several each day, providing an unpleasantly menacing kind of soundtrack to my life. I thought of taking my email address off my site, but reasoned that I would rather people express their anger in written form than in person, and that I would rather know if people were angry with me. I tried to shrug off the threats by making light of them in public.
I don't know what it's like to be in the limelight. I just run this little blog. I could never imagine the sheer amount of pressure this must have brought her.

She didn't break though. When she fell back into depression and anxiety -- after all this pressure and becoming pregnant with a new boyfriend -- she did the responsible thing. She got psychiatric help and worked her way out all the time realizing that depression is not something to be ashamed of -- that it's okay to rely on the help of others.
I wish there were a more cohesive narrative to this story, and that it were less of a muddle, but life is rarely neat. We are all messy and just muddling through the best way we know how. Lots of people have told me never to tell this story, and for years I refused to tell it, but I am no longer ashamed. What is shameful is not being a victim of violence, or having a termination as a result, or receiving threats, or falling apart, but instead being a complicit part of a society that says that victims should remain silent and hide the crimes of others, as well as their own frailties. It is not a society I want my daughter to grow up in, and if I want to change the way it works, speaking out myself is the first step.
I found this very inspiring. Really, I must stop quoting the whole thing and just send you there to read it yourself. It's worth it.