Update all the videos can now be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIj0-ynPkXpJ-y5u41X1KZg
t 1:30pm MST
Criticizing Religion Intersectionally
In a rather timely talk, Heina Dadabhoy will discuss how to criticize faith while taking into account the experience of being a minority.
At 2:30pm MST
Spawn More Trans
It’s Zinnia Jones, what more do you need to know?
At 3:00pm MST
Atheist Activism as Social Justice
Russell Glasser will argue that atheist activism is a form of social justice, and deserves to be treat as such by activists.
And finally at 4:00pm MST
Interfaith and Inter-non-faith
Dan Linford will try to reinvent interfaith work, allowing atheists to better work on justice issues with their theistic peers.
February 16th, 2015 at 6:23 pm
Thanks for sharing these. The links didn’t work for me, but I eventually tracked down the videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIj0-ynPkXpJ-y5u41X1KZg
It was nice to see you 🙂
I appreciated the opportunity to hear Zinnia and had a quick look at some of her articles on the Free Thought blog too. I was particularly interested to read about her experience of gender/body dysphoria and how that compared to the experiences of others. As someone who has not had this experience, the personal touch helps me to empathise in a way that more objective descriptions do not.
So far, I have only listened to the first ten minutes of Russell’s talk, but I was very struck by his experience of kindgarden. There were more than 1500 pupils at the English comprehensive school that I attended in the 1970s. I don’t know how many of the pupils believed in God since matters of faith were never talked about. However, there were just 4 of us in the school CU. (Several years earlier, there had been about 20, but the meetings stopped when most of them had left). Our group was started by a member of staff who was given strict instructions that there was to be no proselytising of any kind. We were also told that we could not take an assembly – despite it being a legal requirement in the UK for schools to hold “a daily act of worship of a broadly Christian nature.” Not that we wanted to take an assembly or indeed to make any noise at all. We just wanted a bit of mutual support – a place where it was ‘OK’ to admit that you went to church. Later, when my girls were growing up, I was witness to a conversation which included a very shocked ‘You don’t believe in God do you?’ The speaker was 8 years old.
I guess, for me, the contrast with Russell’s situation also highlights what I would call ‘US privilege’ on the net. i.e. that Christian = Fundamentalist and Atheist = oppressed minority. In the light of that, I thought that Dan made some useful points about Christian diversity.
However, there was one point I didn’t agree with: ‘That there exists a holy book, central to Christian practice, containing passages that say nothing against gay people is another item of false doctrine that should be dismissed with critical thinking.’
Perhaps this isn’t what he meant to say, but, if he did, it’s clearly not true. The *vast majority* of passages in the existent Bible say nothing against gay people. The verses that condemn homosexual acts make up a tiny proportion of the existent Bible and the subject as a whole receives much less attention than (for example) justice for the poor. Hence I think he is also mistaken when he goes on to imply that Christian support for the LGBTQIA community stems from a belief in a ‘mythical’ Bible. I think this demonstrates a total lack of understanding as to how liberal Christians come to the conclusions they do. The ‘mythical’ Bible theory may work for ex nihilo creation, but I really cannot see its relevance to homosexuality and the Bible. I have yet to meet a Christian who believes that the verses that condemn homosexuality are not there. Some have questioned the true meaning of the Greek and Hebrew, but that boils down to interpretation. It has nothing to do with the absence of critical thinking.
Personally, I would attack Premise 1 of his example (Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God) by saying that I don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God – or certainly not in the sense that the following premises seem to imply. I believe the Old Testament (which is where the verse about killing men who indulge in homosexual activity is found) should be understood by Christians in more-or-less the way the New Testament suggests: ‘It is God-breathed and useful for teaching…’ Useful. Not infallible. I believe the New Testament should be treated similarly, but that it will always take precedence over the Old because it was written by Christians rather than Jews. And we are, after all, supposed to be Christians. It’s on that basis and on the basis that the New Testament has a lot to say about the Jewish Law having been superceded… and about the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit… and about love, justice and equality… that I would say there is plenty of Biblical support for the idea that Christians should support the LGBTQIA community. Yes, my view has been influenced by the growing understanding within our culture that being gay is not a choice. Yes, it’s been influenced by the personal stories of LGBTQIA people. But it would be totally wrong to say that it hasn’t also been influenced by the existent Bible. It’s like slavery. I don’t condemn slavery because I believe in a ‘mythical’ Bible. I condemn slavery because I believe that Galatians 3:28 (There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus) was fundamental to the message of the early church in a way that Ephesians 6:5 (Slaves obey your earthly masters…) was not. To the atheist, this may look like cherry-picking. But, to me, it’s about critical thinking. After years of study and practice, I understand enough about the Christian faith to know that the first verse is talking about what Christ came to do and the second is simply about being practical. In a society in which slavery is the norm, slaves are hardly going to be in a position to challenge their masters. Change will only come about when masters start seeing their slaves as fully human – a challenge that Paul makes very effectively, not only in Galatians, but also when he writes to Philemon and refers to Philemon’s slave as his brother. The Christian message of freedom and equality is all there. One doesn’t have to invent a mythical Bible in order to see the wood for the trees. One only has to do a bit of… um… critical thinking? 😉
February 16th, 2015 at 6:31 am
Thanks for posting these – they look very interesting.
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