Monthly Archives: June 2014

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On Variety and Hobbies


Well it’s about time I post something. I’m the teeth from the shared name, but fear not! Withteeth is just a pseudonym and not a reflection of any personality traits.

Some of what I’ll be focusing many of my posts on is my varied past times and interests.

I’m the sort who can get board, but generally that just makes me go off and get a game or something enjoyable that largely gets me nowhere. That’s why it’s important to keep something around that I can work on so that I have something tangible after a few hours of work.

So where I started was like any child drawing, painting, and doodling in class and playing out elaborate stories in my head. But those aren’t hobbies, so my first real drive into the world of art and hobby was good old Warhammer 40’000, which I refer to as 40K. Painting, building, and an expansive universe with great depths largely untapped even though the game’s been going strong for over two decades. Really anything an eleven year old me could want. Well I have learnt to dislike painting quite a bit since then, but I’m not half bad at it.


Why Christians Should Stop Telling Atheists to Read Books When You Yourself Have Not Yet Read Them


Subtitle: Yes, This Includes the Bible.

There are two major reasons for not doing this. The first is that you have no idea what you’re telling them to read. Many christians do this to atheist family members. Often they have heard that the book is highly recommended or got high reviews, and sometimes it merely has a famous name on the cover. But if you don’t know what you’re sending or recommending, don’t do it. Make sure that the book is actually worth recommending before you recommend it.

The second reason is that it shows a blatant disrespect for the person’s beliefs. You cannot convert someone by simply convincing them to read a book. What if the book that you recommend doesn’t address their reasons for being an atheist? We are not all atheists for the same reason and not every christian author addresses all the possible reasons. In fact, I don’t think any do. If you want to recommend that we read something that will convince us that your god is real, first find out why we are atheists and what it would take to convince us otherwise, then find a book that addresses what we have told you. That tells us that you actually care what our beliefs are and are genuinely concerned. 

I think a lot of this problem stems from our societal belief that we can cure anything by reading a book. Want to become rich? Read this book. Want to get rid of your cancer? Read this book. Anxious? Depressed? Over weight? There’s a book for that. Books don’t solve everything. They can be useful guidelines, but they are still just books. We need to realize that if we want to help someone we must do more than simply recommend a book. This goes for atheists too. Reading A Manual For Creating Atheists will not turn you into a christian-converting expert. And recommending Richard Dawkins and Richard Carrier books will not convince christians to become atheists. 


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. 


Victimization


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.


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