Saturday, November 14, 2009

Well this is fucked up

If you ever need an example of why basing morality in rigid laws set down thousands of years ago is absolutely retarded, read this piece from answers in genesis.
Apparently, since we are all going to die anyway, you shouldn't lie to protect Jews from Nazis. Delightful, isn't it?

I'd add something else, but frankly, I can't think of anything that would help show exactly how screwed up this is. It really stands for itself.

Monday, November 9, 2009

No pude evitarlo...

Y una vez más, leí las cartas de lectores del diario... nunca voy a aprender.

Predeciblemente, se trata de la carta titulada "Matrimonio gay" que reproduzco a continuación:

Se­ñor Di­rec­tor:

"Quiero referirme a la carta publicada por el doctor Alberto Solanet el 3/11 sobre el tema de los matrimonios entre homosexuales.

"Al respecto, adhiero a los conceptos expresados en la mencionada nota: el matrimonio es una institución orientada a afianzar el amor entre un hombre y una mujer, en la cual se comprometen en forma libre con el objeto de su crecimiento mutuo como personas y de la procreación.

"El matrimonio entre un hombre y una mujer está consagrado en las principales religiones, con fines trascendentes para los integrantes de la unión conyugal y en el rol que les compete para el desarrollo de la familia.

"La homosexualidad es un hecho que exige comprensión, en su dimensión física, psíquica y espiritual, sin que ello implique modificar instituciones naturales."

Javier Orloff
(Para referencia, la carta de Solanet se encuentra acá y tiene el mismo título.)

Vamos por partes. El matrimonio es descrito como "una institución orientada a afianzar el amor entre un hombre y una mujer, en la cual se comprometen en forma libre con el objeto de su crecimiento mutuo como personas y de la procreación."
Punto número 1:¿No fue el profeta Salomón quien tuvo unas 700 esposas, en la misma Biblia? "Un hombre y una mujer" suena un poco a restricción arbitraria.
Punto número 2: Dos hombres o dos mujeres son tan capaces de sentir amor y de crecer juntos como personas como lo son un hombre y una mujer.
Punto número 3: La procreación no es requisito necesario para el matrimonio. ¿O es que acaso prohíben a las mujeres casarse después de la menopausia?

El hecho de que el matrimonio entre un hombre y una mujer esté "consagrado en las principales religiones" es completa y absolutamente irrelevante. Primero, porque no se está prohibiendo el matrimonio heterosexual, carajo. Segundo, [insertar lista de toda la mierda que las principales religiones consagran, ya escribí bastante al respecto como para repetirlo en cada poste].

Finalmente, el matrimonio no es una institución natural. (Y aunque lo fuera, la homosexualidad es tan natural como la heterosexualidad.)
Es una institución social y jurídica, lo cual lo hace mutable por la naturaleza, a medida que la sociedad cambia y la ley la refleja. La sociedad está cambiando. La ley va a cambiar, tarde o temprano. Y no hay falacia naturalista que lo evite.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sex with robots will kill us all.

What's this? An update? How weird.

Someone linked me to this piece which tells us how society is in a crash course with total moral destruction because of pornography and the potential for sex robots. It's... weird.

Now, I'm not saying that sex robots are impossible. In fact, I'm pretty sure they will be invented. But most of the scenario described I find either unrealistic or not that bad. First, the notion that sexbots will replace normal human relationships but remain little slaves. Maybe the author finds a relationship with someone that is incapable of refusing a command or even disagreeing appealing, but I don't. I find that most people share my sentiments on the matter. For a robot to replace a human being as a partner, it needs some measure of possibility of disagreeing with the owner. Call it "free will", as much as the concept of free will can have any meaning. Slaves don't make good friends. At least, not to those of us that find the notion of domestic abuse horrifying.

Then, the concept that men will become so obsessed with gynoids that women will be unable to find partners and they'll all become lesbians or turn to androids. (Incidentally, gynoid is the proper term for a robot that looks like a woman. Android is exclusively male.) I simply cannot believe that the majority of people will genuinely prefer a vague imitation to the real thing, when it is readily available. Sure, blow up dolls and such are used, but not when there's an abundance of willing women around. At least, not by a significant number of people. If women are desperate for human male partners, then I can assure you male partners will appear. It might require a shift in social dynamics, but it will happen.

Right in the next sentence, the author suggests that the church's opposition will be inconsistent because there isn't a specific commandment against sexbots. If by "inconsistent" he means "the wide majority will be against them, with a few exceptions", then I agree. However, by any reasonable understanding of the term, he's dead wrong. The church widely opposes anything remotely sexual that doesn't result in children, and seldom gives a fuck what Scripture says about it, or any other subject. Or, to be more precise, bends and reinterprets Scripture to pretends it forbids what they want it to. Examples: The Bible does not forbid masturbation, but the story of Onan, who spilled his seed on the ground, is often used to pretend it does, while Onan's sin was actually disobeying God's command. Hell, onanism is used as a synonym for masturbation. More? The Bible doesn't say a word on female homosexuality (and very little on the male variety), but that doesn't stop fundies for pretending it does. You could argue it's wrong because it's sex outside marriage, but the Bible doesn't say a word about letting women marry, either. Abortion? A verse that says that God knew some prophets since they were in the womb. That's it. When you take into account the detailed rules God lays out for, say incest (a very thorough list of people you can't have sex with), it's quite weird that stuff that's only mentioned in passing if you squint your eyes and look at it from an angle is so important. OK, obligatory attack at Bible-based morality over.

Then there's the prediction that men will not only refuse to have sex but also refuse to donate sperm. For some mysterious reason that's never explained. I mean, why? What kind of sense does that make? It's like he needed to make sure his scenario was catastrophic enough so he thought, "I know! Birth rates will drop enormously! Wait, but what about sperm donation? Eh, I'll just say it stopped happening, nobody will ask for an explanation." The author also ignores adoption, by the way. People who can't afford a sexbot will still have ye olde reproductive sex. And there are decent numbers of them, unless he thinks we will have solved poverty in a couple of decades. Which is a nice thought, but terribly unlikely.

And then there's an attempt to give robots rights, but it fails. Again, because of a mysterious reason. Apparently the lawyer was very good or something. And sexbots count as free speech. Because obviously, if porn has been protected by free speech before, then everything related to sex will. Somehow. After this, people start building paedobots. Though frankly I'm not sure if I'm in favour of sexbots targeted at paedophiles, it's better than them having sex with actual children, y'know? Not like anyone chooses to be a paedophile. So yeah, I'm not sure it's such a bad thing.

Apparently, that scenario should bother me whether I'm a Christian or an atheist. Which I gather are the only two kinds of people in the world. I'll be sure to inform the Muslims, neopagans, Hindus, Jews, Scientologists... Anyway. Not, it doesn't bother my agnostic atheist (occasionally pantheist) self. And his claim that there are no legal barriers is a) False because the legislation in the US does not determine the legislation in the rest of the world, which is kinda necessary for the total moral degradation scenario he shows b) False (again) because there's no reason to consider a machine free speech (or porn, for that matter. It's much closer to a sex toy) and c) Irrelevant, because the argument against it relies not on the law but on human nature. The law can be changed much easily, you see.

Then there's a lot of blah about how porn is silently destroying society. Sex with robots has fuck-all to do with porn besides both being related to sex, so basically this whole thing was just an excuse to use the title "Why Sex With Robots is Always Wrong". Which is an amazing title, but is wasted on this anti-porn piece of crap.

3 of the 4 studies he cites are by the same people (Zillman, D. & Bryant, J.), were done in the 80's, and one was published in the Journal of Family Issues. So that doesn't inspire a lot of trust. But, I bothered to see what I could find on them. (The one study that wasn't by them was a poll about the attitudes of psychiatric nurses regarding porn)

One showed that exposure to porn "prompted, among other things, greater acceptance of pre- and extramarital sex and greater tolerance of nonexclusive sexual access to intimate partners. It enhanced the belief that male and female promiscuity are natural and that the repression of sexual inclinations poses a health risk. Exposure lowered the evaluation of marriage, making this institution appear less significant and less viable in the future. Exposure also reduced the desire to have children and promoted the acceptance of male dominance and female servitude." None of which, minus the one about male dominance, I found intrinsically wrong. It did not measure long term effects, only effect after a week. Also, I could only read the abstract, not the full text, so I can't examine their methods. The other two I could not find either abstract or text online.

And, in case you think I'm just trying to defend my porn consumption: First, it's not that much, anyway. Second, I have the power of google to show that he's full of shit:

  • Abstract. No negative side-effects of non-violent porn, which contradicts the article I mentioned above.
  • Abstract. Increased availability of porn does not make rape more common compared to other crimes. Directly contradicts one of the author's claims.
  • Abstract. Studies that find adverse effects of pornography tend to be inconsistent. Cites significant literature contradicting them.
You get the idea. The studies on the negative effects of porn yield mixed results. There's nothing conclusive, and it's intellectually dishonest to pretend there is. And sexbots have shit to do with this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Obviedades, absurdos, y etcéteras

Wheeeeee, nuevo poste, y sólo me tomó dos meses.

Carta de lectores en el diario, titulada "La droga es inseguridad", de un grupo de jóvenes preocupadas por la droga y la inseguridad, aparentemente. Reproducida aquí:

Se­ñor Di­rec­tor:

"¿Cómo explicar con palabras lo que sentimos en este momento? Hace poco quisieron robarle a una compañera en la entrada de la escuela y encima, en el intento, le pegaron un culatazo en la cabeza y la dejaron inconsciente. ¿Cómo puede ser que no podamos ir a estudiar tranquilos? Porque éste no es el único caso; todos los días se repiten.

"¿Cuánta gente más tiene que sufrir y hasta morir por culpa de un malviviente al que no le importa nada? Y encima la mayoría va a robar drogado. Si no, ¿qué otra explicación hay cuando matan a un pobre anciano que no se puede defender? Esa es la raíz del problema: que sólo les importa conseguir una dosis más y otra y otra.

"Una solución sería erradicar la droga del país, especialmente de los jóvenes, empezando por la educación, porque a mí parecer, una persona bien educada no hace esas cosas atroces.

"Sabemos que es un problema grave y una tarea más difícil aún, pero creemos que si el Gobierno se ocupara como debe, la situación puede y debe mejorar mucho."

Micaela Allende
DNI 36.536.571
Luciana de Villaflor
DNI 35.341.161
Mayra Schamne
DNI 36.981.348
Rocío Virgili
DNI 36.778.712

OK, empecemos por las obviedades: La inseguridad es mala. Sí, creo que todos estamos de acuerdo con eso. Ciertamente no escuché que nadie estuviera a favor de altos niveles de robo y asesinato, aunque puede ser que no me junte con la gente correcta. Quién sabe.

Ahora, sobre la droga. La verdad es que no veo la cadena de razonamiento que lleva a las autoras a decir que la única explicación posible para el ataque a una persona indefensa es la droga. No es como que la gente no lo hace sin la influencia de sustancias de ningún tipo. O bajo la del alcohol, del que generalmente no se habla cuando se dice que hay que erradicar la droga. Sin mencionar que no todas las drogas causan violencia... *cof*marihuana*cof*.

Además, ¿que clase de sugerencia es "Una solución sería erradicar la droga del país"? ¿A quién mierda se le ocurre que si tuviéramos la más puta idea de como erradicar la droga no lo habríamos hecho ya? No, muy útil la idea, chicas. Gracias por su aporte, en serio, si no lo mencionaban a nadie se le pasaba por la cabeza. Ahora que sabemos que con menos drogones por la vida se solucionan algunos problemas, la Argentina va a ser un país distinto. Carajo que la gente es pelotuda.

La verdad no sé a que iba con esto. ¿Ya mencioné que la gente es pelotuda?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


[Versión en castellano]
So the Euphrates, river from the cradle of civilization, etc, etc, is drying up. And of course, this means the world is ending.

No, seriously. Turns out the book of Revelation (AKA "John's biblically proportioned trip") predicts the great river is going to dry, and obviously all the nutjobs came out saying this is proof we are in the End Times and Judgement Day is approaching and all the other shit commonly associated with the aforementioned claims.

Of course, if you take five minutes to think about it you realise that it's not particularly surprising he predicted the river would dry. Rivers dry, it has already happened once or twice in history, and I think John was aware of that. Euphrates = important river, important river drying up = catastrophe like the other ten thousand John predicted, and really, saying that a river will dry up at some indeterminate point in the future does not provoke a reaction of "HOW DID HE KNOW???!!!ASDFKHG" on me. Yes, asdfkhg included.

Not to mention, anyone who bothered to check the relevant chapter would realise there's a few things that have to happen before the river dries up. One would think we would've noticed if all the seas and rivers had turned into blood and all aquatic life had ended.

I wonder what they'd say if the Euphrates permanently dried up now. It would kind of screw with their prophecy, wouldn't it?


[English version]
Resulta que el Éufrates, río que contribuyó a la cuna de la civilización, etcétera, etcétera, se está secando.Y por supuesto, esto es señal del fin del mundo.

No, en serio. Resulta que el libro del Apocalipsis (AKA "Juan se pegó un viaje de proporciones bíblicas") predice que el gran río se va secar, y obviamente ya salieron todos los boludos diciendo que esto es prueba de que estamos en los últimos días y se acerca el juicio final y toda la otra mierda comúnmente asociada con tales afirmaciones.

Por supuesto, si te gastás en pensar cinco minutos al respecto te das cuenta que no es particularmente sorprendente que haya predicho que se seque el río. Los ríos se secan, ya pasó una que otra vez en la historia, y creo que Juan se enteró. Éufrates = río importante, río importante secándose = catástrofe como las otras diez mil que predice Juan, y la verdad decir que en algún punto indeterminado del futuro un río se va a secar no me provoca un reacción de "¡¡¡¿¿¿CÓMO LO SUPO???!!!ASDFKHG". Sí, el asdfkhg incluido.

Eso, sin contar que cualquiera que revise el capítulo relevante se da cuenta que tienen que venir un par de cosas antes de que se seque el río. Una pensaría que lo notaríamos si todos los mares y ríos se convierten en sangre y toda forma de vida acuática desaparece.

Me pregunto que dirían si el Éufrates se seca permanentemente ahora. Como que les que caga la profecía, ¿no?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Answers in Images

[No será traducido en acorde con la regla 2.718, en este caso invocada porque las imágenes originales están en inglés. Sigo trabajando en lo del formato y traducción discutido previamente]

I take a short break from this business of blog improvement I mentioned in my last post which you know nothing about because it was in another language to comment on a couple of images coming from, eternal source of creo-crap. First, this billboard, which they thought would send a nice message:

Beautiful, ain't it? You can just smell the tolerance and understanding exuding from it. Excuse me while I go puke.
In any case, I have to thank them. I want nothing else than hear someone complain about the atheist bus signs...

Image number two comes from CreationWise, the AiG webcomic:A remarkably concise example of both appeal to authority and circular logic, it'd be a great parody if it wasn't, y'know, serious. Hell, I can almost picture it as a cectic comic.
I now return to translating stuff I wrote a year ago and nobody will ever read in the name of consistency. Yay?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Un par de cosas de las que me doy cuenta leyendo postes viejos:
1) Mi formato era horrible.
2) Algunas cosas que escribí son patéticamente malas
3) Otras son mucho mejores que las que escribo ahora
4) La diferencia más obvia entre caso 2 y caso 3 es qué tan informal es el estilo. Cuanto más relajado, mejor.
5) Por algún motivo que no alcanzo a comprender, me sale mejor el estilo relajado en inglés.
6) Estoy cada vez más pajero con las traducciones, hasta el punto que ya parece deshonesto describir el blog como bilingüe.

En consecuencia, estoy tomando algunas decisiones bloguísticas. Voy a ir desde el principio y empezar a corregir cosas, a ver si se vuelve un poco más aceptable. Nada muy groso, ortografía y formato principalmente, agregar algunas tags donde sirvan, etc. No creo que reescriba mucho, pero hay algunos a los que les vendría muy bien (Aggh en castellano me viene a la mente. Apenas puedo leerlo sin llorar de lo malo que es). Y voy a tener en mente tomarme el asunto menos en serio, al menos hace todo más pasable para mí.

Además, vendría bien practicar un poco más escribir en mi lengua madre. Cosas de la interweb, paso la mayor parte del tiempo en angloparlantelandia. Resultado, demasiado poco de lo que escribo es en castellano. Y para que mierda tengo un blog si no voy a escribir en él, lo cual me lleva de vuelta a la solución obvia, postear más en castellano.

Sin embargo, también tengo que tener en cuenta que, de mi muy limitado grupo de lectores, la mayoría no speak spanish. Y de los que sí (¡hola bar!), la mayoría también parlano inglese (woo, bonus trilingüe). Dado el hecho antes mencionado de la propensidad hacia la lengua de Albión en mis interneteadas, cada posible nuevo lector pertenece a los primeros. Así que tampoco es cuestión de irme a la mierda con esto de la hispanizada. La idea es empezar por castellano y después traducir, lo cual sería una inversión de mi proceso actual (cuando me gasto en traducir...). Y no sé si tengo voy a tener la fuerza de voluntad de traducir algunos de los viejos a los que les hace falta. Se verá hasta donde me alcanza el entusiasmo.

Tenna rato.

(Sí, seguramente una violación del quenya, pero que se la vua'cer. Necesitaba el punto extra tertralingüista)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Humanism vs. Religious Ethics

Moving on from that unexpected tone change from yesterday, I go back to my tried-and-true method of point by point rebuttal of poorly thought-out arguments regarding religion. Yes, holy shit, two continuous days of posting. It's like it's, um, the last time I did that, or something. Don't feel like checking.

Anyway, tonight's contestant is Katherine Kersten, who believes doing away with religion will cause the collapse of morality. Since there's no such thing as a moral system based on something other than religion. Enjoy!

We’re increasingly uncomfortable with religion these days. [I see that as a good development, frankly. Never get too comfortable with any idea, you might need to get rid of it]

As a society, we tolerate pastors, priests, rabbis and other religious folks, so long as they confine their message to a vanilla “God is love” theme and bless babies, brides and caskets.[Like hell. I fall rather squarely in the anti-theist side of the spectrum, yet I tolerate plenty of hateful religious messages. Strongly disagree with, too, but tolerance has nothing to do with agreement]

But when religious leaders speak out on the issues of the day — especially using morally tinged language — the elite gatekeepers of public opinion in the media, government and academia warn shrilly that a new Dark Age is upon us.[That might be because society is slowly coming to realize that a bronze age moral system for goat herders does not apply today]

More and more, we see outright hostility to religion — particularly to Christianity.[Yeah, Christians are often stereotyped as terrorists these days. Wait, those are the Muslims. But, they are treated as their beliefs don't qualify as a "real" religion. No, sorry, those are pagans. Huh] Consider the wild popularity of a recent spate of best-sellers by “New Atheist” superstars, including Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and Christopher Hitchens’ “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

Far from being dispassionate critics of faith, the New Atheists are zealous crusaders for their own creed: materialism. [One is the flip said of the other. To promote materialism is to criticise religion, and as far as I know, they do both. Passionately, certainly, but that's an understandable attitude towards this subject] They are passionately committed to the idea that the universe is a random accident, that transcendent truth is a myth, and that man’s life has no inherent purpose or meaning.

Why the growing audience for notions like these?[Because we are right? Or, in less presumptive terms, because we can argue our point and back it up with evidence]

Religion poses a serious challenge to our cherished idea of personal autonomy. Unlike our forebears, we define freedom as the right to live as we choose — to “be ourselves” — unconstrained by social norms or a morally grounded sense of guilt or shame.[To a certain extent. I am all for living our lives as we see fit, provided we don't harm others in the process. To say any serious ethical system promotes doing whatever you want and screw anyone else is irresponsible at best and outright lying at worst]

Judeo-Christianity throws a wrench in this, teaching that universal standards of right and wrong trump our personal desires.[Wow wow wow, hold on right there. Are you seriously saying that the Bible is the first and only book to ever claim there's a standard of morality that goes beyond personal desire? What the flying fuck woman, virtually all moral systems teach this, including those that preceded or had no contact with Abrahamic religions.]

In addition, it raises troubling questions about the vision of scientific “progress,” so central to our modern age. The mere fact that we are capable of, say, genetically altering or cloning human beings doesn’t give us moral license to do so, it cautions.[First, no need to scare-quote progress. Second, advancement of knowledge has been a part of mankind since it's beginnings, and morality advancing with it is not a new thing]

It’s tempting to embrace the New Atheist gospel — that man makes himself and has no higher judge. But before we do, we would be wise to consider the potential consequences.[Some of us would argue that the higher judge is society, or the concept of justice itself]

What, for example, is the source of the bedrock American belief in human equality? It has no basis in science or materialism.[WRONG! It's science that has shown us that it makes no sense to judge someone over their skin colour, sex, etc.] Some people are brilliant, powerful and assertive, while others can’t even tie their shoelaces. [And this has shit to do with equal rights]If “reason” alone is the standard, the notion of equality appears to be nonsense.[As someone who believes in equality based on reason, I beg to differ]

And why should we act with charity toward the poorest and weakest among us? “Reason” — untempered by compassion — suggests that autistic children and Alzheimer’s sufferers are drags on society.[Autistics, depending on where on the spectrum they fall, can be highly functioning. Alzheimer's sufferers are still living, thinking, feeling humans. Reason, by itself, says nothing. It is only when applied to principles of morality where it can help build a system of rigth and wrong. And a system that ignores reason is fatally flawed] In ancient Rome, disabled babies were left on hilltops to die.[I think that was Sparta, actually. Not that it matters] Why lavish care and resources on them? [Because they are living, thinking, feeling humans]

We Americans take the moral principles of equality and compassion for granted.[Not an American, but hell no. You might have noticed the fight for mariage equality that is going on in your country right now. Is fighting for a right taking it for granted in your book?] Yet these ideas are deeply counterintuitive.[Intuition tends to vary from person to person. Do not presume to tell me what is or isn't intuitive for me] We’ve largely forgotten that their source is the once-revolutionary Judeo-Christian belief in a loving God, who created human beings in his image and decreed charity to be the first of virtues.[It was not forgotten, for it was never true. Your religion has done kinda piss poor on the equality front. Believers are not equal to unbelievers, women are not equal to men, homosexuals are not equal to heterosexuals (Yes, I went there, again. It's a good example and I'm going to use it. Sue me)]

Can we reject belief in such a God and still retain the fruits of faith — including a belief in the dignity and infinite value of each human being?[Those are not the fruits of faith, as shown above. They can come from a humanist philosophy, as well. In fact, humanism seems much better at it, from my clearly biased point of view]

The signs aren’t promising. [Care to point out those signs? Didn't think so]

Human beings are prone to selfishness, lust, vindictiveness and cruelty.[True. The point of morality is to show that we can act better than our impulses. Hell, if we were all naturally nice and kind and whatnot, we wouldn't need moral systems] Once we cease to believe that the moral rules constraining us are rooted in transcendent truth, they become mere preferences — a matter of personal taste, and so expendable.[False. Morality may be personal , but it's not a matter of taste. Each person might have a different reaction to a moral dilemma, but there are a few basic principles most recognise, like don't harm unnecessarily. Morality is a complex subject that cannot be easily reduced, and to what extent we value each principle depends largely on our personal experiences. This does not mean that people say "oh, this moral is inconvenient, let's do away with it"]

Theologian David Bentley Hart, a critic of the New Atheists, puts it this way: “How long can our gentler ethical prejudices … persist once the faith that gave them their rationale and meaning has withered away?”[Easy, it's not the faith that gave them meaning. And anyway, I wouldn't want a morality based on a falsehood. If your mythology stems solely from a myth, then it's a lie. It's irrelevant. That's why we need morality rooted in reality]

The historical record here should give us pause. The French Revolution, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Soviet Union — all sought to replace Judeo-Christian ethics with reason, and ended in massive bloodletting.[G-G-G-G-Godwin alert! Hitler had a mixture of occult and Christian beliefs. He was by no means a rationalist. Stalin shifted the cult of religion to cult of personality, still not a rationalist. The French revolution had their excesses, sure, but they were way better than their predecessors. Change does not come free. And, as I said above, reason by itself does not give you a system. It's about which principles you apply reason to]

Nor does science offer moral guidance. That way lies Social Darwinism — the notion of the survival of the fittest.[Science is descriptive, not prescriptive, that much is true. Which means, science tells us how things are, not how they should be. Knowing how things are helps in morality, of course, for example, Social Darwinism. Science tells us there's no real advantage of one race over another and that a diverse gene pool is better than a limited one, thus Social Darwinism is, in fact, a misuse of science] Unless scientific ambition is constrained by religion, it can come to see humanity as just another form of technology, to be tinkered with and perfected with utility in mind.[What's wrong with perfecting humanity, as long as you go about it responsibly and ethically?]

Hart dismisses the New Atheists as intellectual lightweights. They push “attitudes masquerading as ideas” and fail to honestly consider the likely consequences of their creed, he writes.[He would, being a theologian and all. I dismiss your side based on similar principles, actually, considerably fewer people care about my opinion] But he takes a different view of Christianity’s greatest critic — philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who declared in 1882 that “God is dead.”[Nietzsche might be an important critic, but he is not the greatest. And to pretend the ideas prevalent in a movement haven't changed in over 120 years seems intellectually dishonest]

“Nietzsche was a prophetic figure precisely because he, almost alone among Christianity’s enemies, understood the implications of Christianity’s withdrawal,” Hart has written. “He understood that the effort to cast off Christian faith while retaining the best and most beloved elements of Christian morality was doomed to defeat.”[And here's the thing, if Christianity falls, then morality based exclusively on it should fall too. Why base something as big as right and wrong in a failed idea? Any good in Christianity is found elsewhere, and will not be lost, if it's worth preserving. That's the great thing about using reasons instead of faith, you can base your beliefs on reality instead of myth and adding morality as patchwork]

Sunday, June 7, 2009


If you observe unbelievers for a long time, you'll notice a curious trend: they seem to love cats. Not necessarily in a carnal way, although I doubt they are above it, but certainly an almost worshiping adoration. Just to give an example, if you visit a certain well known den of immorality, you'll see no respect for any religious figure whatsoever. In fact, blasphemy and desecration seem to be encouraged, and possibly enforced by peer pressure. However, they are fiercely defensive of cats, to the extent they have launched 'crusades' against animal abusers. You might want to look up Kenny Glenn for details.

Now, we are talking about a group that is largely in favor of killing unborn babies, sexual immorality, the use of violence against believers and spitting on the Word of God. In fact, they seem to hold no moral standard whatsoever. Yet, the moment they feel the merest hint of hostility towards a cat, they immediately begin to describe, in nauseating detail, all the atrocities they wish to perform upon the abuser. The 'why' of the matter has puzzled me for long. Disgusting as it may be, their eagerness to inflict horrific punishments is understandable, since they have no sense of appropriate punishment. The mystery is why cats.

A lot has been said about how those who repress their natural love of God must turn it towards another target, and I certainly believe there's some truth to that. Usually, it's themselves, but a pet might also be seen as an acceptable substitute, much like they consider them a good replacement for children. But that still doesn't explain why they all choose cats and not any other object or animal.

Another explanation is that they see themselves in them. Anyone who has owned a cat and a dog will tell you the about the obvious difference between them. A dog is a kind and affectionate companion, always seeking to share their love with their master. A cat, however, is an independent being, who cannot appreciate humans but as a source of food and warmth. Certainly, those that live off the world God gave them without expressing any gratitude over it can see themselves reflected, on some level, in a cat. But I doubt that's the whole story.

No, the answer does not lie in complex psychological issues, but it is in fact much simple. The first hint was another trend I observed in unbelievers, namely, their childish attitude of replacing the names of God and Jesus with pagan deities. When I noticed it, it was a bit confusing. Surely, someone who claims to believe in no gods would be equally opposed to naming any of them? Initially, I disregarded it as just another incongruity of their group, Lord knows they have plenty. But at second examination, I noted one they referred to with unusual regularity was Bast, the Egyptian cat goddess. And, digging a bit deeper, I found they gave her other names, such as Ceiling Cat or Longcat, under which the fact they use her as God substitute becomes even more evident, going as far as to write an entire mockery of the Bible in her honor.

It is no secret that pagan religions were created as a tool of the Prince of Lies to lead us away from the truth of Christ. Ancient Egypt was certainly one of Satan's greatest achievements, and he knows that what worked once will work again. Atheism is nothing else than the cult of Bast, with a new face adapted to the modern era. Atheist will deny it, they might not even know it, but their actions put the lie to their words. They worship Satan behind the mask of the cat.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dear Nicky

Dear Nicky,
Now, being born with physically unambiguous sex, I'm not going to pretend I know what you went through. Your experiences, I wouldn't wish on anyone, and I'm very sorry you had to suffer them. I'm sure you are smart enough to realize, however, that intersex and transsexuals have quite a lot in common. Specifically, the societal attitudes towards gender that caused you so much grief screw transsexuals much in the same way. You have a common enemy, so to speak.
So why all the transphobia, dear? What is wrong with transsexuals that you feel so offended at being associated with them? And what the fuck made you think that calling a transman a she is a good idea? Really, dude. No, just no. One would think being on the receiving end of societal prejudice regarding sex and gender would make you a bit more enlightened about the subject, but as I believe I've mentioned before, minorities can be very bigoted.
Regarding your comment here, no, Thomas is not a woman. Because, and get this through your head, gender is not determined by your reproductive organs. I'm not even going to mention the studies showing that gender identity seems to be hardwired in the brain. Wait, I just did. Oh well. I sure hope showing that their body has organs belonging to different sexes won't offend your delicate sensibilities about grouping them with the intersex.
To sum it up, you are an asshole, an idiot and a bigot. Being intersex does not excuse you from that.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


There's quite a few things about my dreams that are weird. For one, I don't get nightmares. Not since I was very young, like 6 or so. I've had frustrating dreams, I've had dreams where I'm in danger of death and can't do anything about it, but I'm never scared, only annoyed. And I'm talking stuff like being completely surrounded by people with guns and praying for death as a quick way out. For some reason, I don't feel fear in my dreams.

Then there's lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is when you are in a dream and you realize you are asleep, so you can control the dream. Well, I've only experienced one proper lucid dream, and I woke up immediately after, but I've had several interesting variations. For example, dreams that play out as a one of my stories, where I am both character and narrator and I know I can manipulate the dream to my will, but don't (too much). Has something to do with narrator's guilt, which is what I call the feeling I get when I manipulate a story excessively in the favour of a self-insert. Another pseudo-lucid I had once was where I dreamt I was having a lucid dream. That is to say, I was having a dream (being chased by a dinosaur), became aware it wasn't real, then I thought I woke up, but did not. So I dreamt I was lying on my bed, slipping in and out of a dream I could control somewhat. There was a dog in the 'waking' part of it at some point, but that's not relevant.

That one was also the first false awakening dream I had. False awakenings, or dreaming you wake up, are exceptionally mindscrewy, but for some reason I like that in my dreams. For example, another false awakening: I ask this girl out for a date, they tell me we meet at the house of guy X, and gives me the address. I 'wake up', realize she doesn't know guy X, and couldn't have given me the address (which I don't know myself), but I ask my sister about it and she tells me it was the one I had heard in my dream. Whilst I ponder this, I wake up for real and realize the address wasn't even any pair of streets I had ever heard of. Or, another mindscrew, once I dreamt I was lying in bed listening to music from my MP3 player. I realized that was awkward, because I never do that, but the music felt incredibly realistic. Then I felt like going to the bathroom. I woke up, went to pee, and was halfway through walking back to bed when I realized that not only I wasn't listening to music, my MP3 was broken and I had never heard that song before. And that I had woken up without ever realizing I had slipped out of a dream.

On occasion, though, my mind switches games with me and just gives me what I want. I'm dreaming, and my life has some problem solved, desire fulfilled, etc., which might make it a bit disappointing to wake up (doesn't work, though, I love those dreams). Like last night, when I dreamt that, while remaining physically male, I had achieved an androgynous look and passed for female easily. So easily, a guy asked me to pretend to be his girlfriend to spite his ex.

Yeah, I'm totally fucked in the head. But I'm happy ^_^

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Identity, 2

I promised I'd write this and I will, ungoddammit.

So, let's recap: Two people. Same (shapeshifting) bodies. Identical memory. Different history. Do they have a different identity, or not?

The first question I ask myself is: What are the differences, and are they relevant? Difference #1, as mentioned before, is history, as before the merging moment they were separate people. History is relevant to identity, because it's what makes me the same person as the baby born some 19 years ago. We have nothing in common, except DNA and that he gradually became me. Since we don't consider identical twins to be the same person, it's not DNA, so it must be that series of small changes that added up to result in the idiot writing this blog. However, (there's always a however), something that happened in the past can only be relevant to the present up to the extent that it has consequences in it. And in this case, the consequences of each one's history are the same for both. That is to say, something that happened to Shippy affects zir and Saffy in the same way, so history cannot differentiate them. The only case in which history would be relevant would be if there was a third party/recording device/etc. observing the merging and keeping track of who was each. Assuming that didn't take place, or that they managed to pull off a manoeuvre that made them lose track, history is not a relevant difference.

Is there any other difference? I already stated that mind and body are the same, but somebody might suggest the soul. Now, normally I'd say that there's no good reason to think souls exist, but this is a fictional setting so lets allow for them. Which opens a whole new batch of questions: How do souls affect us? Are they set from birth, or do they change? Do they start out the same? What can change them?

The first one is the most important: if my soul does not affect me in any way, then the discussion is pointless. If the consequences of its existence do not apply until after I die, (in the classic afterlife "your soul lives on" scenario) then they are also irrelevant. If they determine or influence personality, preferences, etc. while alive, however, they might become relevant. Onto further questions, there's the issue of souls changing. If souls change, then what can change them becomes the most important question. If souls influence personality, and personality is determined by our experiences, it would be reasonable to assume it's our minds that determine how souls change, and therefore they would've been matched in the merging. So, down that avenue, again, no difference.

Let's say souls are set at birth, in which case the question is, how do they start out? We'll assume the start out different, because otherwise, again, no difference. Next part, how much of our personality is determined from birth? Not all of it, of course, because people change. Does the soul set some personality range, within which you can move as determined by personal experience? In that case, it's all a matter of luck, really, there's only a difference if the personality ranges don't overlap. If the soul acts like some sort of filter which interprets experiences and determines how they change us, then different filters mean a different identity, regardless of having the same memory.

So, there's the only possibility I've found for Saffy and Shippy to be different. A very specific form of an unproven and untestable entity. Since this all depends on how I build my fictional universe, and I know myself well enough to know it'd never be like that, screw it, they have no separate identity. I hate using the God clause to win, but I was arguing against myself, so...

A comment I've been meaning to make: Were I to follow my usual methods, I'd have approached this by looking at what defines the identity of each and seeing if it's the same thing. However, identity doesn't work too well definitions. I touched upon this in the previous post, but it's impossible to find something that is the definition of a person. Look at any person, and tell me if you can find something about them that is both unique to them and remains constant throughout their lives. There's no such thing. DNA doesn't work, because as I said before we don't consider identical twins to be the same person. Souls haven't been proven to exist, so don't bring that up either. Identity is, to quote myself by proxy through Shippy, a long chain of related links in which the first one may have nothing to do with the last one.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


So I was playing around with a character lately with a superpower that's described as "absorbing information from people around yourself and using it to adapt mind and body to the form best suited to the task at hand". Essentially, shape-shifting combined with a weird form of psychic powers that instantly learns skills from surrounding bystanders. Also, ridiculously overpowered, ultra Mary Sue/Gary Stu that comes from being skilled at quite literally everything, plus being able to use any other superpower. Terrible character to write a story for, clearly, but since nobody is going to read it, who cares?

Anyway, character (who shall henceforth be referred to as Shippy) lives in a world with multiple superpowered beings, and a sliding scale of heroism vs. villainy. Shippy spends most of the time fighting (perceived) villains under a multitude of different identities, and is in general one of the good guys. But, one of the few things all supers have in common is an intense aversion to "power collectors", or people with the ability to learn new powers, for the obvious reason that, left to their own devices, they become extremely dangerous demigods. Shippy takes the utmost care to hide zir ability from the rest of the world, which of course being able to change form and personality at will makes quite easier. Problem is, zie becomes completely unable to keep any sort of memento of who zie was before. Not recognisable appearance, scar, necklace, ring, anything, because any of those would allow tracking. Result: A person whose only claim to having been someone else before is memory, and since memory can easily be altered in this world, that's not much.

In a needlessly long internal monologue, Shippy analyses what it means to have an identity, concluding than in zir case the only constant is the ability to have no constant. And even that cannot be Shippy's defining feature, since other power collectors exist. Essentially, zie is not a single thing. Only a chain of vaguely connected someones, with no real defining feature to join them all. In the end, just to drive the point to the ground, zie finds another power collector, Saffy, and through the use of a variety of abilities make sure they both have the combined memories and abilities of each other.

Now I've already spoiled the ending, so I'm not going to write it. Wasn't planning on it, really. But, given all this, I ask myself and the hypothetical you who might be reading: There's two separate identities, with a distinct past in which one was Saffy and the other was Shippy*. At present point, that being story ending, does it makes sense to say they have a different identity?
I have some thoughts on that, but they'll have to wait until later.

A few notes:
Thanks to Shivahn for reminding me of this and for inspiring the follow-up, if I remember to write it.
Names were created solely for the purpose of this article, which is why they suck. I didn't exactly put a lot of thought into them.
And if you have to wonder why I keep using zie/zir, it's because that is the only set of epicene pronouns I can more or less stand to use. I should really start getting used to them, they fulfil a very obviously useful role, but they feel too alien to me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Aniversario de un año!

[English version]

Sí, hace (poco más de) un año que empecé este blog ¡Comparemos expectativas y resultados!

Esperaba hacer múltiples posts sobre el Inteísmo. Resultó que uno solo fue suficiente. ¡Fracaso!
Esperaba no tener más lectores que amigos, familia, y un par de internetantes cualesquiera. ¿Éxito?
Esperaba abandonarlo todo después de un par de meses. Lo hice un par de veces, pero siempre vuelvo. ¡Superé expectativas!
Esperaba traducir todos los posts, siempre que fuera posible. Mi vagancia me superó. ¡Fracaso!
Esperaba usarlo para pseudo-filosofía y diatribas, en lugar de detalles sobre mi vida personal. ¡Éxito!

Dos fracasos, dos éxitos, y un sobre-éxito. Soy el amo de las bajas expectativas.

One year anniversary!

[Versión en castellano]

That's right, it's been (slightly over) a year since I started this blog. Lets compare expectations and results!
I expected to develop multiple posts on Untheism. Turns out I didn't, one was enough. Failure!
I expected not to have any readers other than a few friends, family, and the passing random intertuber. Success?
I expected to forget all about it a few months in. I do it from time to time, but I always come back. Exceeds expectations!
I expected to translate all posts whenever possible. My laziness got the best of me, lately. Failure!
I expected to use it for random philosophical musings and ranting, rather than details of my personal life. Success!

So 2 successes, 2 failures, and one over-success. I am the master of lowered expectations.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I recently issued a challenge which included, amongst other things, showing how same-sex marriage should be illegal. Today, I found a website that claims to do just that, so I being as open minded as I am I read through it, wondering if this was the one that would finally convince me there's actually a reason for all of this. I'm sure you can guess how that went. In case you can't because you are terminally stupid, no, I did not decide I'm an evil deviant that doesn't deserve rights. Partly because I'm not really gay, partly because are full of crap. Point by point rebuttal to follow, of course.

For starters, this is the phrase they claim sums up their position:
"Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose,
they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."
First off, it's not just gays and lesbians that are "redefining" marriage. As mentioned above, I'm not gay (my sexuality would best be described as "complicated" without going into much detail) and yet I agree with them. Plenty of straight people do too. Second, you are implying that a huge social issue nowadays is nothing more than a discussion of semantics. What if it was decided that the state no longer recognises marriages, only civil unions (or whatever other term) which have no gender requirement? Would you be ok with that? You can keep your special word that you apparently love so much, everyone gets equal rights, and we don't have to deal with "separate but equal" crap. No complaints, right?
Language to avoid at all costs: "Ban same-sex marriage." Our base loves this wording. So do supporters of SSM. They know it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. Don’t use it. Say we’re against “redefining marriage” or in favor or “marriage as the union of husband and wife” NEVER “banning same-sex marriage.”
Problem is, that is exactly what you want. As I pointed out above, there's a simple way to avoid the dreaded Redefinition of Doom that will apparently destroy us all. Therefore, if you were against redefinition but not for banning same-sex marriage, you shouldn't have any objections. Anyone taking any bets on whether they will?

Marriage is between a husband and wife. The people of [this state] do not want marriage to be anything but that. We do not want government or judges changing that definition for us today or our children tomorrow.

If you take into account the fluid nature of language (that means, definitions change over time), the fact that you are trying to protect a single word to the extent of denying other people rights seems kinda nonsensical. Makes one wonder what's so bloody great about a word that's already undergone a few changes in definition (Amount of spouses, age of consent, etc.)By the way, I wonder what you would think if we redefined "husband" or "wife" instead.

We need a marriage amendment to settle the gay marriage issue once and for all, so we don’t have it in our face every day for the next ten years.

How cute. You really think that legislation will silence the gay rights movement. Reality check, you'll have the issue on your face until you give them the right to marry the people they love.

Marriage is about bringing together men and women so children can have mothers and fathers.

That's why childless couples are forced to adopt and the sterile aren't allowed to marry, right? Wait, no. But I'm sure you have some evidence to support why this should be the case. I'm all ears
Do we want to teach the next generation that one-half of humanity—either mothers or fathers—are dispensable, unimportant? Children are confused enough right now with sexual messages. Let’s not confuse them further.
And your method of avoiding confusion is to put up pretence to defend a lie? Cold facts here, no study shows two parents of the same sex will be significantly worse at raising a child than two parents of different sex. If you can show otherwise, you are welcome to do so.
Are you a bigot? “Why do you want to take away people’s rights?”
“Isn’t it wrong to write discrimination into the constitution?”

A: “Do you really believe people like me who believe mothers and fathers both matter to kids are like bigots and racists? I think that’s pretty offensive, don’t you? Particularly to the 60 percent of African-Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t new; it’s not taking away anyone’s rights. It’s common sense.”

Tip: Saying minorities can't be bigoted is a fallacy, just so you know. Offensive truths aren't any less true, and as it turns out, the overwhelming majority of people trying to keep same-sex marriage illegal are doing it out of homophobia. Guess what? That makes you a bigot. Your way of marriage being old does not make it better, and not granting rights is the moral equivalent of taking them away. In the case of California, rights were actually taken way, and if you succeed you'd be doing the same to Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, and Vermont. Finally, "common sense" isn't an argument.
Isn’t the ban on gay marriage like bans on interracial marriage?

A: “Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races apart so that one race could oppress the other. Marriage is about bringing two sexes together, so that children get the love of their own mom and a dad, and women don’t get stuck with the enormous disadvantages of parenting alone.” “Having a parent of two different races is just not the same as being deprived of your mother—or your father.”

You've still to show any benefits coming from heterosexual parenting. Until then, null hypothesis means a certain gender is not a specific requirement in a parent. Plenty of kids grow up deprived of a dark-haired parent. Should we demand that all marriages be between a dark-haired and a light-haired person? If you are thinking that sounds absurd, take a good look at your own beliefs and show me how it's any different.
Why do we need a constitutional amendment? “Isn’t DOMA enough?”

A: “Lawsuits like the one that imposed gay marriage in Massachusetts now threaten marriage in at least 12 other states so far. We need a marriage amendment to settle the issue once and for all, so we don’t have this debate in our face every day. The people get to decide what marriage means. No-end run around the rules by activist judges or grandstanding San-Francisco-style politicians.”

The issue won't be settled. It's that simple. Even if you get your amendment, people will still fight for their rights. There's nothing you can do about that, and you'll have to learn to deal with it.
What’s the harm from SSM? “How can Adam and Steve hurt your marriage?”

A: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.”

And you think your right to holding on to an archaic definition is more important than other people's right to marry?

A: “If courts rule that same-sex marriage is a civil right, then, people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.”
Hate to break it to you, but you already are, and deservedly so. Your belief is not based on facts, but on prejudice. That makes you a bigot. The legal status of same-sex marriage will not change that. It might show it more clearly, but it won't change it.
“Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions, or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage."
First, I've yet to see anything that makes me think this would happen. Second, it's about fucking time they joined us in this century
“Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”
So? Do you want schools to lie to children? I'm not even sure that'd be an actual consequence of same-sex marriage, anyway.
“When the idea that children need moms and dads get legally stigmatized as bigotry, the job of parents and faith communities trying to transmit a marriage culture to their kids is going to get a lot harder.”
Homophobia is bigotry. This talk about children needing mums and dads is either ignorant crap or a thinly veiled excuse for that homophobia. If those are the values you wish to instil in your children, go ahead. You are free to teach your kids as you see fit, but don't expect the rest of us to give our silent consent, because we won't and you don't deserve it.

Why do you want to interfere with love?

A: “Love is a great thing. But marriage isn’t just any kind of love; it’s the special love of husband and wife for each other and their children.”

Been through this before, your right to your special word isn't more important than people's right to marry those they love. If you really care that much, I refer you once again to the plan I outlined in my first point.
What about benefits? Don’t gay couples and their kids need the benefits and protections of marriage?”

A: “If medical proxies aren’t working, let’s fix that problem. If people need health care, let’s get them health care. Don’t mess with marriage.”

A: “The issue isn’t benefits, it is marriage. Local folks can decide benefits. This is about the meaning of marriage, our most basic social institution for protecting children. “

"Mess" with marriage? We want to fix it to account for a situation it doesn't. Simpler and less discriminatory. And yes, the issue (or part of it) is benefits. Get over your delusions, marriage isn't what protects children. Parents, married or not, are.
Isn’t divorce the real threat to marriage?

A: “High rates of divorce are one more reason we should be strengthening marriage, not conducting radical social experiments on it.”

OK, that really doesn't make much sense. At all. How is more people getting married going to weaken marriage? By the way, did you know the highest rates of divorce in your country, after Nevada, are in the Bible Belt? Coincidentally the most homophobic area in your country. Gets you thinking, doesn't it?
Are you saying gays cannot be good parents?

A: “Two men might each be a good father, but neither can be a mom. The ideal for children is the love of their own mom and dad. No same-sex couple can provide that.”

Put up or shut up. Show how different-sex parents are better at childrearing than same-sex parents.

9. What about older or infertile couples? If they marry why not same-sex couples?

A: “Every man and woman who marries is capable of giving any child they create (or adopt) a mother and a father. No same-sex couple can do this. It’s apples and oranges.”

Talk about missing the point. And considering you are answering your own questions, that is something of an accomplishment. This question (when asked by a rational person) aims to show that childrearing isn't the purpose of marriage. Also, once again, give us a reason to buy your crap about children needing male and female figures.

Note: Digging through the site, I found a document that is supposed to support their assertions on heterosexual marriage being better for children. Curiously enough, all the statistics provided were about single parents, unmarried couples and divorced couples. The difference between single parenting and same-sex parenting should be obvious enough (hint: one of them has half the amount of parents). Those about divorced and unmarried couples do not apply to married couples, unless they assume that homosexual and heterosexual couples have significant differences in parenting, which is of course what they were trying to prove in the first place. We call that particular fallacy begging the question or petitio principii.

I haven't yet checked the sources of the statistics either, they linked to which is not exactly an unbiased source. Not one study on homosexual couples raising kids, I noted. The document repeats some of the bullshit above plus adds two quotes as scare tactics. Too bad any two random people who may or may not have been misquoted are not representative of an entire movement, otherwise they might have a semblance of an argument

In conclusion, the challenge is still open.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Speaking of religion

If, hypothetically speaking, I had readers, I'm sure they would've noticed that I frequently voice my opinion on matters of religion. Additionally, they would have noticed that I myself am not a member of any (real) religion. For some mysterious reason, I never found the combination of those two factors paradoxical. Thank Ungod for idiots in the internet trying to silence their opposition without actually providing any arguments.

The specific idiot I'm talking about responded to someone's comment advocating all or none religious education by something to the effect of: "What is your religion, [commenter's name]? Or are you one of those that live as if there is no God and you still talk about religion?" There is not one idea expressed in that comment that I don't find ridiculous.

First, that the religion of the commenter is relevant to the discussion. How? I seriously have no clue. If the same idea had been expressed by a Hindu or a Muslim or a Catholic or an atheist, would it make a difference? Basic logic tells us that an argument is not judged by the one who words it, but by its own merit. Therefore, the question can only be a waste of time or an attempt at an ad hominem. Probably both. What's wrong about that should be obvious enough.

Second, and here's where it becomes slightly more interesting: The remainder of the mental defecation I referenced above implies that the reason the question was asked was that the writer believes those without religion should not speak on the subject. My first reaction to that was mostly incoherent due to the sheer illogic of the concept interrupting my usual stream of consciousness. The reaction immediately following that was bewilderment at the idiocy of the concept. What possible reason could there that causes my opinions in the field of religion to be invalid?

I'm no theologian or even close, but I do know more about religion than the average person (not a difficult feat, honestly). Limiting myself to Christianity, I have explained canonization to Catholics and quoted Paul and Jesus to Protestants. I've read more of the Bible than almost anyone I know (personally, not online). I've studied to a greater or lesser extent the claims of all religions I've come across. This holds true for a significant portion of all the atheists, agnostics and other non-religious I've met. The why seems obvious to me, really. When you hold a position that differs from the mainstream, you are driven to the question of who is right and who is wrong a lot more frequently than those whose ideas are not challenged by the majority. Those that leave religion do so after taking a good look at it and concluding it doesn't add up (or at least that's what they tell me). Those like me who were not raised religiously often wonder why the rest of the world holds those beliefs and we bother to investigate them.

To remove the non-religious from discussions on religion would be like demanding that only the critics that liked a film publish their reviews. If it wasn't for Hanlon's Razor, I'd say it's no more than a manoeuvre to artificially inflate the perceived value of religion. I'm quite sure a number of those that use it in fact have that exact purpose, even if they don't put it in those words.

So, my esteemed internet moron: if the best argument you have is saying that I don't have a right to participate in the discussion, perhaps you should reconsider your position, or at least find a new argument. The only defence you can find for an idea being a fallacy is often a signal that the idea is flawed. Just a friendly warning :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


[English version]

Paradigma hetero-normativo. Para una frase que suena tan bien, el concepto que representa me da ganas de vomitar.

La hetero-normatividad es la creencia de que hay una cierta norma para la sexualidad e identidad de género, específicamente, que las personas con penes se identifican como hombres y les atraen las personas con vaginas, que se identifican como mujeres y les atraen los antes mencionadas portadores de pene. Todo lo que se desvía de esa norma es tratado como una abominación, inexistente o una decisión consciente e inmoral de destruir la sociedad. Exagero, pero no por mucho.

Por supuesto, negarse a creer en la existencia de gente que se desvía del paradigma es una posición completamente divorciada de la realidad, que sólo puede ser sostenida por aquellos cuya edad se expresa en un solo dígito. (aunque, los creacionistas, geocentristas y tierraplanistas todavía existen, así que debería saber que a la realidad no siempre se la tiene en tan alta estima como se merece). La homosexualidad, la bisexualidad, la transexualidad, el bigenerismo, el androginismo, y la intersexualidad destruyen completamente esta posición. Algunos de éstos son más aceptados que otros (sobre lo que me quejaré en otro momento), pero la mayoría de los seres humanos admiten la existencia de por lo menos uno. El problema yace más comúnmente en las otras dos reacciones a los que rompemos la norma.

Tratarnos como si elegimos tener un cuerpo, sexualidad o identidad inusuales también va en contra de la lógica y la evidencia, pero en cierta manera es menos conspicuo. Está demostrado, por ejemplo, que la homosexualidad es causada por factores genéticos y hormonales, pero ese es el tipo de información que los homófobos (y la mayoría del resto del mundo) no tienen o ignoran cuando se les presenta. Por qué alguien elegiría ser parte de una de las minorías más odiadas del planeta me escapa, pero en la mente de algunas personas, tenemos control absoluto de nuestra sexualidad y la gente se levanta un día y dice "che, que ganas tengo de cojerme a alguien con mis mismos genitales hoy" (parece que todo el mundo es bisexual en su mundo de fantasía. Ojalá...). Y por supuesto, los trans solo se hacen pasar por el otro sexo porque son una manga de pervertidos.

Y después están los que nos consideran una aberración, una perversión del orden natural del universo. Son los que nos dicen "Sí, naciste así, pero sigue estando mal. Es una enfermedad que tenés que curar o estar eternamente avergonzado, no otro estilo de vida". Son los que mandan a su hijos gay a programas de "reforma de homosexuales". Son los que dicen que los transexuales son despreciables por tratar de vivir como lo que sus mentes les dicen que son, en vez de lo que tienen (o no) en su pecho y entrepierna. Al carajo con lo que realmente sos, viví como los demás o volvete un paria.

Hay mucha superposición entre las tres posturas que describí arriba, obviamente. No es inusual que alguien niega la existencia del bigenerismo, mientras que dicen que las lesbianas eligen ser como son y que los intersexuales nacieron deformes y tienen que esconderlo para siempre. Cualquiera sea la especie de retrasado a la que pertenecen, tiene una cosa importante en común:

Nunca terminan diciéndote la razón por la que lo que somos está mal. O por lo menos una buena razón. Ya escuché apelaciones al orden natural de las cosas, pero ¿en qué basás esta idea de un orden natural? ¿lo que sentís que 'es así'? ¿Cualquier absurda deidad en la que creés? (por cierto, si sos cristiano, te recomendaría leer Gálatas 3:28) Eso es una pelotudez, pura y simplemente. Es mi vida personal. Cómo la vivo me afecta a mí, y a aquellos que deciden ser parte de ella. A nadie más. Si no te gusta el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo, no tengas uno. A la mierda, si querés, corta todo vínculo con las personas que tengan uno, lo más probable es que no te extrañen. Pero no obligues a los demás a vivir como vos querés. No crees leyes discriminatorias que les prohíben casarse con la person que aman. Si no estás cómodo con la transexualidad, ¿sabes qué? Nadie te está pidiendo que te cortes la pija. Nadie te pidió que empieces a usar pollera. Lo que te piden es que les dejes vivir su vida como les parezca.

Yo tengo suficiente suerte que mi disrupción particular de este orden aparente es algo que puedo esconder fácilmente. Sé perfectamente bien que cuando les diga, la gente va a pensar que estoy confundido o que quiero ser especial o alguna otra idiotez, y aunque no me gusta, puedo vivir con eso. Preferiría poder vivir mi vida completamente como quiero que ocultar parte de mi personalidad, pero sobreviviré. Otros no tienen tanta suerte. Otros no son un punto medio como yo, sino que están por completo del otro lado. Y cuando viven como ellos mismos, son atacados, insultados, por algo que no le hace mal a nadie.

Esto es un desafío abierto. Cualquiera que pueda mostrarme por qué la hetero-normatividad es mejor que reconocer que el sexo físico, la sexualidad, y la identidad de género son un continuo y que cada punto es igualmente válido, que hable. Decime por qué los trans tienen que vivir según su género de nacimiento, por qué el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo debería ser ilegal, por qué deberíamos cortar los genitales de los intersexuales para hacerlos 'normales'. Si no podés, amablemente te pido que te vayas a la mierda y dejes que la gente viva su vida.

Friday, March 27, 2009


[Versión en castellano]

Hetero-normative paradigm. For such a nice-sounding phrase, the concept it represents makes me want to puke.

Hetero-normativity is the belief that there is a certain norm for gender identity and sexuality, namely, people with penises identify as men and are attracted to people with vaginas, which identify as women and are attracted to the aforementioned penis-havers. Anything that deviates from that norm is treated as either an abomination, non-existent, or an immoral, conscious choice to destroy society. Hyperbole, but not by much.

Of course, refusing to believe in people that don't conform to the paradigm is a position completely divorced from reality, which could only be held by those whose age is expressed in single digits. (Then again, flat-eathers, geocentrists and creationists still exist, so I should know reality is not always held in as great an esteem as it should be). Homosexuality, bisexuality, transgenderism, bigenderism, androgyny, and intersex conditions completely demolish this position. Some of those are more accepted than others (a rant for another time), but most human beings with a working brain acknowledge at least one. The problem lies more commonly on the other two reactions to norm-breakers.

Treating us like we are making a choice in having an unusual body, gender identity or sexuality also goes completely against the evidence and logic, but somewhat less conspicuously so. Homosexuality , for example, has been shown to have genetic and hormonal causes, but this is the kind of information homophobes (and most other people, for that matter) don't have or ignore when presented. Why someone would choose to be part of one of the most hated minorities in the world is beyond me, but in the minds of certain people, people have absolute control over their sexuality and they just wake up one day and say: "Hey, I totally feel like fucking someone with my same genitals today". (Apparently everyone is bisexual in this fantasy world of theirs. If only...) And of course, trans people just feel like acting as the other sex because they are freaky perverts.

And then there's the ones that consider us an aberration, some perversion of the natural order of the universe. They are the ones that tell us "Sure, you were born like that, but it's still wrong. It's a disease to be cured or be perpetually ashamed of, not another lifestyle." They are the ones that send their gay children to "homosexual reform" programmes. They are the ones that say that transsexuals are despicable for trying to live as what their minds tell them they are, instead of what they have (or not) in their chest and crotch. Screw what you truly are, live like the rest of us or be a fucking pariah.

There is a lot of overlap between the three positions I described above, obviously. It's not unusual for people to deny the existence of bigenderism, while saying that lesbians choose to be that way and the intersex were born deformed and should hide it forever. Whatever the breed of retard people happen to belong to, they have one big thing in common:

They never come around to telling you the reason what we are is wrong. Or at least any good reason. I've heard appeals to the natural order of things, but what do you base this idea of a natural order on? What feels "right"? Whatever absurd deity you happen to believe in? (incidentally, if you happen to be a Christian, I'd recommend reading Galatians 3:28) That's bullshit, plain and simple. It's my personal life. How I live it affects me, and those that choose to be a part of it. Nobody else. If you don't like same-sex marriage, then by all means don't have one. Hell, go as far as cutting all ties with those that do, odds are you won't be missed. But don't force other people to live like you want to. Don't create discriminatory laws that forbid them from marrying who they love. If you are not comfortable with transgenderism, then guess what? Nobody is asking you to cut off your dick. Nobody asked you to start wearing a skirt. What they ask you is to let them live their lives as they see fit.

I happen to be lucky enough that my particular disruption of this perceived order is something I can easily conceal. I know full well that when I tell them, people will think I'm merely confused or wanting to be special or some other retarded crap, and while I don't like that, I can deal with it. I'd rather be able to live my life fully as I see fit than hide part my personality, but I'll survive. Others are not so lucky. Others are not a middle point like myself, but fully to the other side. And when they live as themselves, they are insulted, attacked, vilified, for something that harms nobody.

This is an open challenge. Anyone who can show me why hetero-normativity is better than recognising that physical sex, sexuality, and gender identity are a continuum and every point of it is equally valid, speak up. Tell me why transfolk should live by their birth gender, why same-sex marriage should be illegal, why we should cut off the genitals of the intersex to make them "normal". If you can't, then kindly fuck off and let people live their lives.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Natural vs. Supernatural

[Regla 2.718]

Wandering through the web I happen upon this website, which repeats the tired drivel about how atheism is based on faith and whatnot. Nothing too unusual, but it annoyed enough to write a response to the most moronic, uniformed and illogical excerpts. So, let's start from the beginning, shall we?

"Atheism is a lack of belief mentality which rejects the existence of anything supernatural. By default, atheists are also naturalists and evolutionists."

WRONG! Atheism rejects one specific type of supernatural entity, gods. This bothers me to no end, because it's a mistake made by theists and non-theists alike. One can be an atheist and believe in souls, healing crystals, the monster under the bed, homoeopathy, psychics, astrology, ID, and leprechauns. Sure, most (myself included) don't, because the strongest motivations for atheism are rationality and scepticism, which discard all of the above. But I despise over-generalisation with a passion worthy of a better cause.

"If matter and energy cannot be created, how did they originate? Where did the entire physical universe come from?"

We don't know yet. It is necessary to point out that scientific laws are only a provisional understanding of how the world works and are changed to account for new evidence constantly. We don't know enough about the circumstances at the beginning of the universe (if there even was such a thing) to explain why, if at all, it goes against conservation of matter and energy.

"It would seem to the unbiased either matter and energy made themselves from nothing or a supernatural creator made them"

Holy false dichotomy, batman! How about matter and energy always existing is some form or the other? How about being caused by something other than a supernatural creator?

"Why couldn't the universe have always existed? Because nothing that has a beginning and an end could have always existed."

True, yet irrelevant. The universe could be the result of the collapse of a previous universe, for example.

"Today, virtually all scientists accept the Big Bang theory which says the entire universe came into existence at a particular point in time when all of the galaxies, stars and planets were formed."

10 points for blatant misrepresentation of science. Galaxies, starts and planets took quite a while after the Big Bang to form. The universe didn't come into existence from nothing, it expanded from a singularity.

"There is not even one generally accepted scientific theory on the origin of matter and energy."

And this is what we know as the "God of the gaps" argument. It is, in essence, saying "We don't know what causes X, therefore X is caused by God". Problem is, we keep filling the gaps with naturalistic explanations, so God keeps getting smaller and smaller. Back in the good old days, everything from the weather to catching the flu was the fault of some god or the other. Over time, we discovered that lightning isn't Zeus' rage, disease is not demonic possession, rainbows are caused by the refraction of light and earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates. How long until we convince you the same principles apply to evolution and the Big Bang?

"The Law of Biogenesis
This law is composed of two parts. The first part states that living things only come from other living things and not from non-living matter. Life only comes from life. The second part of this law states that when living things procreate, their offspring are the same type of organism they are."

Ah, fundies love this one, even though it's so patently made up it hurts. There is no such law in biology, period. Biology is based on the theory of evolution, which states the exact opposite of the second part of your "law". And evolution has been observed, repeatedly. As for the first part, look up "abiogenesis". Thousands of experiments have shown that you can create organic molecules from non-organic chemicals in an environment similar to the early Earth. Though we yet have to fully create life artificially, it has been shown that every step in the way is possible.

"Some people feel biogenesis is not a scientific law, but biogenesis is a law because no one has ever documented a single case of non-living matter coming to life in self-replicating form."

You haven't a fucking clue how science works. We have shitloads of evidence showing abiogenesis is possible. The simple fact that life exists is pretty compelling evidence for abiogenesis, don't you think? Am I assuming that the cause of abiogenesis is naturalistic? Yes, much in the same way you are assuming it is supernatural. So what's the difference? Easy.
A) The evidence shows that entirely natural processes can have as a result self-replicating molecules
B) In the entire history of science there have been exactly zero instances of a supernatural explanation replacing a natural one, and endless examples of the opposite.

"How could DNA and RNA evolve from something very rudimentary into their present day intricacy when the organism containing the basic genome would require the more complex, present day DNA and RNA to replicate?"

It wouldn't. Any molecule that creates imperfect copies of itself evolves. Replication does not require DNA and RNA.

"The scientific method is held in high esteem by most atheists and it is composed of the following parts...

1) Careful observation of a phenomenon.
2) Formulation of a hypothesis concerning the phenomenon.
3) Experimentation to demonstrate whether the hypothesis is true or false.
4) A conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis.

Nobody has ever observed the creation of matter or energy.
Nobody has ever observed a molecular cloud collapse or any planet form.
Nobody has ever observed abiogenesis.
Nobody has ever observed the evolution of any genome.
Nobody has ever observed any phylum, class, order or family change. "

First of all, you apparently are working with a primary school understanding of the scientific method. Check wiki if you want something resembling the common understanding of the method.

Second, you are getting the "observation" phase completely wrong. The phenomena observed in this case would be the existence of the universe, planets, and the existence and diversity of life. The hypotheses (which have become theories after thorough testing, retesting and modification) imply all of the things you've mentioned. Some of them have yet to be directly observed, but we know they happen or happened in the past because that's where all the evidence points. If we get new evidence that points somewhere else, we'll reconsider. Until then, shut the hell up.

"The definition of a miracle is an event which is inexplicable by the laws of nature."

And as I explained before, our understanding of the laws of nature is in constant evolution. Time dilation would've been thought of as a miracle before Einstein, but now it is an observed and explained phenomenon.

"If you want to believe in naturalism it is fine with me but please don't make the erroneous claim that "science" is on your side."

Science is naturalistic. Naturalism works. No supernatural event can withstand scientific scrutiny. And anyone who can prove otherwise can go ask James Randi for a million dollars. Yes, science is on our side.

"Can God be scientifically proven? No, it would be nice but his existence cannot be proven scientifically. The reason is God is supernatural; he exists outside the natural, scientific world."

Whoopsie, know what that means? You just admitted that
A)Science is naturalistic and therefore on our side, when you stated the opposite two paragraphs previous.
B)A universe without God would be exactly the same as a universe with God. That's exactly what you are saying when you claim that something cannot be analysed scientifically. Otherwise, the differences between both universes could be measured and tested, thereby providing us with the necessary evidence.

"It is interesting how atheists reject any notion of the supernatural because of what they perceive to be a lack of evidence when they could use that same objectivity to reject their naturalistic world view. Most atheists are not even honest enough to apply the same burden of proof for naturalism that they demand of supernaturalism."

Oh really? Since science exists, the supernatural has been continuously tested and found lacking. The natural, on the other hand, is always there for us. Every single last accepted scientific theory is naturalistic. The score stands 65,536 to 0. Methinks someone needs to reconsider the burden of proof.

"Both naturalism and supernaturalism require faith and which one you place your faith in is one of the two most important choices you will ever make."

A statement that is not only irrevocably wrong, as shown above, but also leaves a tiny hint of Pascal's wager, which is one of the things I despise even more than over-generalisation and shitty translation.

That's it for now, folks. Checking the rest of the site later, may end up making this a multi-part series.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Si Dios fuera un político

[rule 2.718]

Ayer leí la siguiente carta de lectores en el diario (primera de todas)

¿Dónde está Dios?

Se­ñor Di­rec­tor:

"Días atrás, León Gieco lanzó la pregunta: «¿Dónde está Dios en una tragedia como la de Tartagal?». Creo que esta pregunta merece alguna aclaración: si quien la formula es ateo, simplemente no debería haberla hecho porque estaría apelando a un ser cuya existencia niega. Si creyera en la existencia de un Dios todopoderoso y providente, por más que en ocasiones lo asalte la duda, la respuesta es clara y sencilla.

"Dios nos ha dotado de inteligencia y voluntad. Podemos intuir, razonar, argumentar y concluir gracias a la inteligencia; y tomar decisiones, preparar cambios gracias a la voluntad. Estas fantásticas capacidades Dios nos las dio para que las usemos en el gobierno de nuestras vidas personales y en nuestras relaciones con los demás. También los gobernantes tienen estas facultades, que deberían utilizar en el desempeño de sus cargos.

"Lo que sucedió en Tartagal podría haberse evitado si los gobernantes hubieran utilizado algo de inteligencia y sentido común. Hubo muchos informes que lo anticipaban y partidas de dinero que tuvieron otros destinos. Deberían aclararlo los gobiernos de Salta y de la Nación. La pregunta, por lo tanto, debería haber sido: «¿Qué hicieron los gobernantes para evitar lo de Tartagal?» Dios seguramente se habrá decepcionado una vez más del mal uso que hacemos de nuestra inteligencia y voluntad.

"A Dios lo que es de Dios, y al hombre lo que es del hombre."

Humberto Guglielmin

Como evidencia su frase final, el señor Guglielmin cree que no le corresponde a su omnipotente deidad ayudar a sus supuestas amadas criaturas en casos como este, sino a nuestras bastante falibles instituciones gubernamentales. Sin entrar en debate sobre si el gobierno podría haber hecho algo para prevenir esta situación, digo: La capacidad del gobierno de solucionar problemas es limitada, dependiendo de tiempo, dinero, información sobre la situación, etc. Dios, sin embargo, puede solucionar este y cualquier otro problema sin esfuerzo, inmediatamente, y sin la excusa de que no sabía que iba a pasar.

Entonces, ¿según qué criterio se determinó que la responsabilidad recaía sobre nosotros? Ninguno. Es la simple tradición histórica que nos ha mostrado que cuando esperamos que el cielo intervenga, más nos vale esperar sentados. Un famoso refrán dice que Dios ayuda a quienes se ayudan a sí mismos. Lo curioso es que la ayuda divina nunca excede lo que logramos por nuestros propios medios :)

Así que yo pregunto: ¿Si Dios puede ayudar, por qué no lo hace? Antes de que digan que nos ayudó al darnos la inteligencia para resolver nuestros problemas, les recuerdo que evidentemente, eso no fue suficiente (lo cual, por cierto, Dios debería haber previsto). Si la gente le exigiera a su dios lo mismo que le exige a sus políticos, ya hace mucho que le habrían pedido la renuncia. Si tenemos en cuenta que encima Dios sí tiene acceso a soluciones perfectas a cada problema que aqueja a la sociedad, no puedo evitar preguntarme por qué se lo sigue teniendo en tan alta estima.

Y por mucho que busque, no se me ocurre la excusa. Hay quien dice que los designios del Señor son inescrutables, lo cual es básicamente los mismo que decir, "no sé, no me jodas con esas preguntas". Otros dicen que Dios no quiere ponerse en evidencia porque eso invalida la fe. Yo les digo que, primero, eso significa que todos los supuestos "milagros" son falsos (lo cual no es una gran sorpresa). Segundo, que eso implica que en realidad no hay ninguna prueba de la existencia de Dios, que es lo que los ateos venimos diciendo desde el principio. Tercero, que Dios no puede hacer nada que no hubiera pasado sin su intervención. Entre un dios imperceptible que nunca hace nada y un dios que no existe no hay mucha diferencia, realmente.

Hay algunos que me preguntarán que quién soy yo para juzgar a Dios, el omnipotente creador del universo, blah blah blah. Esto no es más que volver a mi pregunta inicial, ¿por qué Dios está exempto de ser cuestionado? La respuesta es que no lo está. Y en cuanto empezamos, nos damos cuenta de que, si está ahí, tiene unas cuantas preguntas por responder.