Science and Other Drugs

….maybe a little less wrong….

Category Archives: Ancient history

You only believe because….

If Constantine had not endorsed Christianity, you would probably not even be believing it.

This statement was made to me in a comment thread here. It’s a fairly straightforward argument: the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine was an essential element in the spread of Christianity as we know it today; therefore, it’s stupid to believe in Christianity.

This is Constantine. Ugly sumbitch, ain’t he? Must have been a bad hair day.

The premise is hard to deny. If it hadn’t been for Constantine’s tolerance and later adoption of Christianity, it certainly wouldn’t be what we know it as today. It may have even been stamped out entirely. But the truth of the premise doesn’t necessarily mean the conclusion follows. Read more of this post

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learning the words: wisdom

Guest post over on Defeating the Dragons about the meaning of “wisdom”.

God’s Standard for Victims, Part 2

It was a darkened dorm room at my college in the deep south in the mid-2000s. The rest of my life had just been decided for me in the space of around 25 seconds.

I wasn’t a virgin anymore.

Historically, the big ugly hangup about virginity was specifically limited to women. After all, women were the only ones with any sort of physical sign indicating whether they’d ever had sex (although this was a tenuous distinction to begin with). A woman’s value was directly determined by her sexual history.

Then came the fundamentalist purity culture of the late 20th century. Clearly, the whole virginity thing was wrong; women shouldn’t be vilified for their sexual history. Instead, they decided, let’s vilify EVERYONE for their sexual history! Equal-opportunity discrimination….that’s feminist, right?

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God’s Standard For Victims, Part 1

I’ve been meaning to write about the Purity Culture for some time now, and while I intend to do a more complete treatment of it soon, something came up recently that I simply couldn’t overlook.

Last week, forgedimagination wrote a post over on Defeating the Dragons that really ticked me off. Not because of what she wrote, but because of the response she received. Earlier, she had written about victim-blaming and rape repentance as outgrowths of the Purity Culture, and they were featured on No Longer Quivering. Then things got messy.

But before I can say anything about this particular example, I need to explain a little about the Purity Culture itself.

Purity or Bust

For those of you who didn’t grow up in it, the fundamentalist Purity Culture is a clever scheme to keep Christian teens from doing the deed until they’re safely on their honeymoon. Preferably and presumably, it also keeps them from oral sex, making out, kissing, holding hands, or appreciating each other’s sexuality in any way. Because, you know….LUST. If you enjoy looking at someone, you’re lusting in your heart, which means you’re committing adultery with them in your heart, which apparently makes both of you Guilty Of Fornication. Cover those bra straps, ladies! Bounce those eyes, guys!

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what Christian fundamentalism means to us

“I realized that fundamentalism…is unnecessary.” YES.

What makes you different

Religion is predictable.

From a series of conversations over on Violet’s blog….

We see worship of the sun, stars, rivers, or other natural elements, morphing into a pantheon of deities. These pantheons expanded as time went on and religious observance became more and more ostentatious and refined. New gods were added on a regular basis. The members of the divine pantheon had very human attributes, lives, and adventures.

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Logical Fallacies: The argument from silence

One of the principal reasons I moved away from fundamentalism was the overwhelming presence of fallacies. As a good Fundamentalist Homeschooler, I was taught to hunt down and identify fallacies as efficiently and ruthlessly as the heat-seeking missile shown below.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder missile uses an infrared heat-seeking module and a warhead that expands into a jagged spinning ring of metal death on impact. Image courtesy USAF.

Unfortunately, fundamentalism is home to some pretty egregious fallacies in its own right, ones that became rapidly apparent as I turned my abilities back on my own indoctrinated beliefs. Wait, why do we believe such-and-such? No good reason at all? Interesting.

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Knowledge of good and evil

I’m going to try my best not to make this post a rant about what horrible parents I had and how I’m going to do so much better. My parents weren’t horrible. Not only would that be trite and presumptuous, but it wouldn’t be fair either. All parents make mistakes, and while mine certainly weren’t perfect, I know they did the best they could with what they believed was right.

This photo, snapped by the Cassini spacecraft in 2011, shows the moon Dione orbiting its parent planet, Saturn. The gas giants have moons orbiting much closer than Earth’s moon. Image courtesy NASA.

But as I look down at my three-month-old son sleeping peacefully in my arm (yes, I’m typing this with one hand), I can’t help wanting certain things to be different for him. I don’t want him to grow up believing it’s impossible to do something that’s genuinely good without any hidden motivations or agendas. I don’t want him to feel like his mother and I have a set of expectations he can’t ever deviate from. I don’t want him to see the world through a single, unyielding lens of good and evil that casts every person as either saint or villain. Most of all, I don’t want him to feel like he isn’t allowed to disagree with us or explain why he feels a certain way. Read more of this post

Porneia – Part 2: Providential Prurience

Earlier, I wrote about the hypocrisy of treating an unmarried couple differently in order to signify disapproval for premarital sex. Here’s the Facebook quote that spawned it all:

“Shacking up and having a baby is not ‘cute’. Speak plainly and biblically about the soul-damning seriousness of fornication.”

I pointed out before that stigmatizing a family or relationship based on its origins is a hypocritical justification of prejudice, not some elevated level of holiness and biblical virtue. But I’d also like to focus on the second sentence, referencing the “soul-damning seriousness” of “fornication”.

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Porneia – Part 1: Pedantic premarital prejudice

This artist’s conception shows what it might be like to live on a planet inside a stellar nursery in galaxy NGC 604, nearly three million light years from Earth. Image courtesy NASA.

Seen on Facebook:

“Shacking up and having a baby is not ‘cute’. Speak plainly and biblically about the soul-damning seriousness of fornication.”

“Fornication.” Ewwww. What a horrible, dirty, terrible word.

But wait: let’s start by focusing on the initial portion of this particular individual’s statement. “Shacking up and having a baby is not ‘cute’.” Ostensibly it ought to properly be described by some other adjectives, like “regrettable” or “ugly” or “stigmatizeable”.

Hold on. Shacking up and having a baby is exactly what my wife and I did, and I’m pretty darn sure he’s quite cute.

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