Science and Other Drugs

….maybe a little less wrong….

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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Precisely simple

Definitions can be tricky things. Words have wildly divergent meanings depending on who is using them and why. So nailing down concrete definitions is a good thing to do any time you get the chance.

sunset

I’m sure I’m appropriating this from somewhere, but oh well.

Atheist: a person who finds it improbable that an agent cause brought about our reality.

Theist: a person who finds it probable that an agent cause brought about our reality.

Agnostic: anybody else.

This is the bottom line. All other definitions are just rhetorical posturing.

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

What a poignant, hauntingly beautiful reflection on the challenges every parent faces.

The Belle Jar

You.

Sometimes I wonder about you.

I wonder, for instance, where you came from. I understand the dry facts, of course, the complex mechanics of ovulation and ejaculation. I understand how cells divide, and then divide again, their numbers growing exponentially as seconds tick by. I know a thing or two about gametes and zygotes and embryos.

What I don’t understand is how all of that made you.

The facts of your existence seem like they would be better explained by alchemy rather than biology. We made you out of nothing, or rather, we made you out of two randomly-selected bits of genetic code that we unintentionally sent slamming into each other deep in the darkest recesses of my body. And out of those tangled strands of DNA grew you, incredible, beautiful you, with your father’s blue eyes and my heart-shaped mouth.

It feels more like magic than…

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The quandry of moral contradictions

The ring-like arcs in this image are the light from even-more-distant galaxies, bent into a halo by the gravitational distortion of the central galaxy. This gravitational lensing allows us to measure the weight of dark matter inside the central galaxy….something we don’t yet really know anything about. But we’ll find out someday. Image courtesy NASA.

Some questions have answers. But some questions are just impossible. Absolutely, unquestionably, without-a-doubt impossible.

I was raised to believe that all answers were knowable; all problems had solutions. They were all in the Bible, somewhere; if you just looked long enough and hard enough, you’d find them. All of life’s answers could be found by study, prayer, and listening to what authorities told you the Bible meant. 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness,” was touted as the unquestionable proof that the Bible has All The Answers….despite the fact that this passage has nothing to do with the contents of Scripture.

Turns out, we were wrong. Not because the Bible isn’t useful. As it turns out, abandoning fundamental prooftext-crazed literalism doesn’t suddenly cause the pages of your Bible to crumble and fall apart. It’s still the same book. But we were wrong: the Bible doesn’t have all the answers, because some questions don’t have answers.

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I sat down to write a post about Easter, then came across this….which happened to be the exact same post I was going to write, except with more research. I love this approach to skepticism and criticism.

The Belle Jar

If there is one thing that drives me absolutely bananas, it’s people spreading misinformation via social media under the guise of “educating”. I’ve seen this happen in several ways – through infographics that twist data in ways that support a conclusion that is ultimately false, or else through “meaningful” quotes falsely attributed to various celebrities, or by cobbling together a few actual facts with statements that are patently untrue to create something that seems plausible on the surface but is, in fact, full of crap.

Yesterday, the official Facebook page of (noted misogynistandeugenicsenthusiast) Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science shared the following image to their 637,000 fans:

Naturally, their fans lapped this shit up; after all, this is the kind of thing they absolutely live for. Religious people! Being hypocritical! And crazy! And wrong! The 2,000+ comments were chock-full of smug remarks…

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Porneia – Part 3: Sex and sensibility

Earlier, I wrote about the kind of stigma wrongfully attached to unwed parents. I also wrote about the Bible’s teachings on “fornication”.

In the latter post, I made the point that Christian obsession with sexual sin is arguably more prurient than puritan. But I also explained how “fornication” (as used in the Bible) is almost unquestionably a reference to prostitution and promiscuity, not sex itself. As it turns out, the Bible doesn’t actually ever call premarital sex a sin.

But does that mean all sex is okay?

This true-color image is an actual photograph of the surface of Venus, taken in 1982 by the Soviet Venera 13 lander. Image courtesy NASA.

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