Monthly Archives: June 2014

Why Christians Need to Stop Telling Atheists to Read the Bible

I know these types of posts get written fairly regularly, but I think the message needs to keep getting repeated because I still get told to read the bible fairly regularly. 

Telling an atheist to read the bible is not going to convince us that it is true. Many atheists, myself included, were raised in christian homes. We went to church, where the bible was read to us, we went to bible camps and bible study, where we were told what passages to read, and we read the bible because we were told to. 

Many atheists even read the bible as atheists. Some do it to understand where the christians are coming form, others read it to better debate christians. I read it as part of a religious studies class. Reading the bible is not an unusual activity for atheists, so telling us to read the bible is not going to get you anywhere.

It may seem odd to you that an atheist might have read the bible and not been convinced, but it is fairly common. You can’t assume that what you find convincing is convincing for everyone. It’s not. 

When I was in that aforementioned religious studies class, it felt like I as reading a completely different book than everybody else. We were all reading the same passages at the same time, but, where my classmates interpreted a passage as loving or good, I read it and thought “what is wrong with these people?” I do not think that what the bible says is good, loving, or convincing. To me, it reads like a fairy tale more gruesome than a Grimm fairy tale. We interpret it differently. I do not see the same things in the bible that christians see. So, if I do not interpret it the same way you do, how can you expect ‘read the bible” to convince me?

If you want to convince an atheist that you’re right, don’t just tell us to read a book and leave it at that. If you want to convince us, share a passage with us, tell us what it means to you, and then listen to us when we tell you why we disagree. After that, we can have a meaningful conversation where we are not merely talking over each others heads. You will probably not convince me, and I will probably not convince you, but at least we will have created a situation where we can better understand each other and create respect between us. 


I posted this on my facebook awhile ago and it led to an interesting discussion, so I thought I’d post it here as well:

“Why do people say “I refuse to be a victim”? Nobody chooses to be a victim. Has your house been robbed? Then you are a victim of breaking and entering and robbery. Have you ever been jumped? Then you are a victim of assault and theft. Have you ever been harassed while walking down the street? Then you are a victim of harassment. You can’t choose not to be a victim. Does that mean that you can’t choose how to respond to the victimization? Of course not. You can still choose how you’ll respond to the event. You can choose how you’ll act. Saying “I refuse to be a victim” doesn’t make you not a victim. It just makes you someone who is buying into societal victim blaming. You are saying that people choose to be victims. You’re saying that what happened to them was their fault.”

Modern Day Witch Hunts

I just watched an interesting documentary called Cropsey. I found it very interesting. It talked about Andre Rand and the children that he is thought to have murdered. 

This documentary is far different from many documentaries that talk about serial killers. For one, the film makers never once make the assumption that Rand is guilty. Instead, they listen to the opinions of the people they interview and discuss the lack of evidence available. It’s not about making accusations or spreading fear, it’s about trying to find the truth.

But the very method they used to try and find that truth shows a lot of the problems with how we as humans try to find justice. Andre Rand may or may not be a murderer, but we do not have the evidence to say one way or the other. However, it no longer matters if Rand is innocent or not. Someone could find conclusive evidence that he’s innocent and people would still believe that he’s guilty. They would assume that the evidence was fake, or that it was somehow irrelevant or simply misleading. These kinds of witch hunts happen all the time. Once someone is arrested for a crime, they remain a criminal in the minds of people who have heard the story even when they are proven to be innocent.

Our society holds up the mantra “innocent until proven guilty,” but it hardly ever works out that way for the person accused. It’s often guilty until proven innocent in society’s eyes, but even proof of innocents won’t always convince society of the person’s innocence. I can’t help but find this concerning. If people are being victimized, then I want the police to find whoever is doing the victimizing. But I don’t want to just see a trial. I’m not going to feel safe because someone was put in prison based on eye witness testimony alone. I want to know who actually committed the crime. I want the police to make sure that they arrest the right person so that the crime stops. And I want them to fix their mistakes when they make them. I don’t want them to bury their mistakes and allow some innocent person to pay for someone else’s crime while the criminal is able to keep committing the crime.

But I don’t think that that will happen in our current system. I think the justice system needs to be reformed for justice to actually occur. Prison isn’t about rehabilitation or punishment. All it does is keep people away from their victims for a time. Prison just allows people to become worse. Especially if that person is incarcerated for something small like drug possession. I want to see the people who can become rehabilitated, getting the help they need. We’d save a lot of money if we concentrated on creating valuable members of society.

The justice system requires a lot to fix it, but I think it would be worth it if it would put an end to the single minded witch hunts that lead to innocent people in prison and criminals going free.

Sex and Gender

I just had a very interesting conversation with a friend in which he posited that sex can’t be defined therefore sex and gender are the same thing. Lets pretend for a second that biologists haven’t already defined sex (males=small gametes, females=large gametes), even if there were no definition for sex, it still makes sense to divide the two. This is because sex is merely a description of biology. One is born male, female, or intersex. I think it’s a largely useless category, but many people care about it. Gender is how we feel and how we express our selves. If my sex is the same as my gender, then people can and will say “you were born a girl so you must act like one.” I know this because people who feel that sex and gender are the same do say this. But if sex and gender are different, then people are more accepting of those of us who have a gender that doesn’t match our sex. This is why sex and gender must be seen as separate.

Why Does Nobody Ever Talk About Demi-Sexuality?

When I was in high school we discussed heterosexuality and homosexuality. It seemed to be implied that you’re either one or the other. But sexuality, as I discovered in university, is much more complex than that. When I was growing up, I was quite confused. I would see a boy and think “he’s attractive,” but it never got any stronger than that. I had the same feeling towards the girls. I felt some attraction towards them, but I never felt any pull to do anything. How is someone who’s told that you’re either straight or gay/lesbian, and everybody has some level of sexual attraction, supposed to respond to those feelings? I didn’t know if I liked boys or girls and I didn’t know why I didn’t want to kiss and have sex like my classmates so obviously did. I used to wonder what was wrong with me.

In university I met people who were bisexual and asexual for the first time. That’s when I first began to learn about how complex sexuality really is. It made me happy because now I was able to say that my feelings were normal. But I still didn’t have a label for myself. When my partner and I began dating, I told him that I didn’t know what my sexuality was. I seemed to fit in a number of categories kind of, but not really. I had tried to do some research, but never found an answer. It was my partner who found out what demi-sexuality was and explained it to me. That was when I figured what what I was. After four years of high school, four years of university, and numerous classes and workshops on gender and sexuality, I finally had a name for myself. 

So why did it take so long? Why did nobody ever mention demi-sexuality? Why was I told about heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, pansexuality, and omnisexuality, but that’s it? 

I’ve been told that demi-sexuality isn’t a really sexuality. I’ve been told that, since it only discusses how I fall in love and not who I fall in love with, it can’t be a real sexuality. But that doesn’t seem to be the case to me. In fact, that’s kind of the point of it being it’s own sexuality: how I fall in love determines who I fall in love with. With demi-sexuals a relationship is required before sexual attraction takes place. I’m not going to see some hot guy, or beautiful woman, walking down the street and think “I’d like to have sex with them.” I will notice that they are attractive, but that’s it. I need to have formed a relationship with someone before I’ll find them sexually attractive. That can mean that I’ll find my close friends sexually attractive, but usually it means that I require a romantic attraction first. As such, the sex, or gender, of the person that I’m attracted to doesn’t matter. I can fall in love with anyone, I just need to form a bond with them first.

I’ve also been told that it’s merely a sub-set of asexuality. I don’t have any problem with that. So being demi-sexual means I’m asexual. Whatever. But why then is it not discussed when asexuality is discussed. And, if demi-sexuality is a subset of asexuality, why don’t we hear about the other subsets? If it’s the only subset, why call it a subset? Why not just let it be its own category?

I have a lot of issues with my sexuality, and my gender, when it comes to how they are discussed, or rather, because they aren’t discussed. I’m technically LGBTQ with both my sexuality and my gender, but I don’t feel included it the group on either fronts. I feel ignored. My straight cis partner feels more welcome as an ally than I do as someone who is LGBT. So why does nobody ever talk about demi-sexuality? Why does any sexuality get ignored? Wouldn’t it be better if we let people know everything that we know so that they know how complex sexuality is? Wouldn’t it be best if we discussed all the possibilities so that nobody feels left out?

What Does it Mean to be Trans?

Trans is an interesting term. It means different things to different people and can encompass different groups. I’m sure most people hear “trans” and think “transgender,” meaning assigned one gender at birth, but identifies with the opposite gender. But if I add an * to the word (trans*), then it means something completely different. Trans* means anyone who is gender non-conforming.

My own gender issues have had me thinking about this terminology a lot in the last few months. I used to just say that I was gender non-conforming because none of the labels seemed to fit how I felt, but lately I’ve been feeling more comfortable saying that I’m gender queer. Either way, I’m trans*, but I’d never call myself that if asked. It’s not that I have a problem with people who use the label, but I’m not completely comfortable with it my self.

To me, saying you’re either cis or you’re trans creates another binary. I’m not okay with that. It has problematic implications. For example, many people assume that being trans means that you want to take hormones and have surgeries so that your body matches that of the gender you identify with. But that’s not true of all people who are transgender let alone every one who’s trans*. Many of us either identify as somewhere in between the two genders or as neither gender, so surgeries aren’t exactly helpful. If people assume that we either have to want the surgeries or we can’t be trans*, then they are just creating more problems for us. The problem is, I can’t see any better way to create a label, and we need the label to create an accepting society because, for some reason, people are more accepting of groups that are different when labels are applied. If there’s just men and women, then it’s easy to say that the gender non-conforming child needs to be fixed, but if that child belongs to a group, then people start to be willing to accept that child.

But I would like to see a better way of labeling because I fear that we might get to a point where it’s okay to be trans* if you want to physically change your sex, but not if you don’t. This isn’t really a problem right now: I’m far better off than most trans women and even trans men. We still live in a culture where it is better to be masculine than feminine, so I’ve experienced only minor discrimination in the past. And it helps that I don’t actually want to transition. That’s still very much taboo. But I’d prefer that all trans* people are brought up to be equals with cis people at the same time. I feel like right now the focus is on the most extreme end: the people who want the surgeries. Maybe that’s necessary. They’re the ones with the least privileged right now. But, while I see trans women in the media fairly regularly, and trans men focused on every once in a while, I never see people like myself in the media. I never see people who aren’t either going through the surgeries or done them. I don’t see people who don’t “pass.” That makes me afraid that I’m going to get forgotten in the fight for equal rights. That makes me feel like I don’t belong in the label of trans*.

What are other people’s thoughts on this issue? Are these problems? If so, how do we solve them? If not, why aren’t they?

Not My Father’s Son

Nate Phelps has a documentary in the making. For those of you who don’t know who Nate Phelps is, he’s the son of the Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps. Nate has recently stepped down as head of CFI Calgary and is an active member of the atheism community.

The documentary talks about Nate’s life. It discusses the abuse he suffered as a child as well as his life post-WBC. I can’t wait to see this documentary when it is completed. I have heard much of what had happened to him and what he has done, but I am looking forward to hearing the entire story (or a good deal more of it, anyway).

Camp Fyrefly

My partner and I just went to an event held by the Camp Fyrefly group. Camp Fyrefly is a summer camp for LGBTQA youth. They seem to be an amazing group of people and the camp helps a lot of youth. The camp focuses on teaching youth not only how to be comfortable with who they are and how to deal, but it also teaches them leadership skills so that they can be leaders in their community.

The event that we went to was a film showing. The film talked about the camp itself, but it mostly focused on the stories of some of the campers. They were really moving. I was especially impressed with the number of transgender youth who had been helped by the camp. Unfortunately, those who are transgender are often discriminated against even within the LGBTQ community. But this camp has helped a lot of youth of all gender and sexual orientations.

The camp only has three locations so far, but they are growing. Hopefully they will soon have camps across Canada and, possibly, internationally. It’s too late to help with this years camps, and I don’t have the money to support them financially, but I’m hoping to be able to volunteer with them next year and I would love to help send a child to camp when I have the money. In the mean time, I want to make others aware of the wonderful things that this camp is doing.


My partner and I recently went to the movie Maleficent. It was very well done. It came across as very much a feminist take on the old Sleeping Beauty story. 

Angelina Jolie did a great job portraying Maleficent. In stead of her being an evil witch who simply wanted to make the monarchs suffer, she had real motivations. Yes, what she did was wrong. She realized as much. But she had been hurt badly by someone that she had once loved. She wanted revenge. Her emotions and actions were easy to sympathize with.

What I liked most about the story was the power given to the female characters. Maleficent fought the king herself despite having the power to call an army to her side. She also went out of her way to protect Aurora. And Aurora was quite powerful too. She was able to make Maleficent realize that her actions were wrong. She was curious. She had hopes and dreams, and she was willing to fight for them.

But my favorite part of the movie was true love’s first kiss. It wasn’t the usual girl gets kissed by man she’s never met before, wakes up, falls in love, gets married, and lives happily ever after type of kiss. It was love formed by a relationship. It was developed over years.

This was probably the best movie I have seen this year.

What Does it Mean to be Moral?

Morality means something different to different people. To some, morality is objective. There is something about our morality that is innate in all of us and the same moral code applies to everyone. To others, morality is subjective. Different cultures have different moral codes. So which is it? Is morality objective or subjective?

If morality is objective, then “what does it mean to be moral?” is an easy question to answer. But where does that morality come from? Some would say a deity. Others would say evolution or nature. And how do you explain different moral codes in different cultures and religious groups? 

If morality is subjective, then it is more difficult to answer my question. So, if morality is subjective, what does it mean to be moral? Does it mean anything?

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