Responding To Richard Dawkins: Part 1

The Closet Atheist‘s 31 favorite quotes from The God Delusion, and my first thoughts upon reading each them.

Part 1: 1 — 16

“There are lots of people out there who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy in it, don’t believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in its name; people who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents’ religion and wish they could, but just don’t realize that leaving is an option.” p. 1

I agree.

“To be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.” p. 1

I agree.

“Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means it, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’” p. 20 (quote by Douglas Adams)

Douglas Adams apparently never read verses like these:

“Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21

“…be as shrewd as serpents…”
~ Matthew 10:16

“You can’t get away with saying, ‘If you try to stop me from insulting homosexuals it violates my freedom of prejudice.’ But you can get away with saying, ‘It violates my freedom of religion.’” p. 24

Here we go again…

The reason I say that is:

This sounds like another case of a person thinking You’re criticizing homosexuality. Therefore you hate homosexuals.

To which I say:

If you believed in the existence of the soul.
If you believed in the existence of Heaven and Hell.
If you believed that the body doesn’t last forever, but the soul does.
If you believed that sin causes a soul to end up in Hell.
And if you believed that homosexual acts are a sin.
Than what, in your eyes, would be the bigger act of “hate”?

To 1) Hide your beliefs from another, saying that there is no danger in homosexual acts?
Or 2) Tell the person that homosexual acts put their soul in danger?

My point being: Can we move beyond calling people who oppose two men rubbing their penises together “hateful”?

If I really hated homosexuals, than I would tell such people that, when it comes to what two men or two women do behind closed doors, there is no danger of any kind.

And when it comes to the mistreatment of not just homosexuals, but of any kind of person:

“God created mankind in His image.”
~ Genesis 1:27

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
~ Jeremiah 1:5

“‘Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.'”
~ Matthew 25:40

“If people wish to love a 7th century preacher more than their own families, that’s up to them, but nobody else is obliged to take it seriously…” p. 26 (quote by Andrew Mueller)

I agree.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” p. 31

At times, I agree.

But, when thinking about God’s nature, I find that a question to keep in mind is: “Why?”

Why is God the way He is?

For now, the best answer I have is:

Imagine if you found out your boyfriend/girlfriend were cheating on you. Chances are, you would be furious. Chances are, you’d give them an ultimatum:

“End it, or we’re done.”

It’s like that with us and God. Like an exasperated significant other, God will not tolerate infidelity.

“Who cares? Life is too short to bother with the distinction between one figment of the imagination and many.” p. 36

Ah, but here’s the thing: Believers don’t just have their eyes on this life; they have their eyes on what might come after, too. Hence the caring.

You know, for someone who insists that atheists can be decent people despite their unbelief, you’re not making a good case. After all: Is the response “Who cares?” the mark of a mature adult? Not to me.

On a related note: 0:30 — 0:47:

“…Judaism: originally a tribal cult of a single fiercely unpleasant God, morbidly obsessed with sexual restrictions, with the smell of charred flesh, with his own superiority over rival gods with the exclusiveness of his chosen desert tribe.” p. 37

I find it ironic that Richard Dawkins laments that religious people are “morbidly obsessed” with sex, and yet it is scientific people who are paving the way for men to give birth.

“Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” p. 38 (quote from Barry Goldwater)

I’ll let you answer this one, Andrew Garfield:

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” p. 42 (quote from Thomas Jefferson)

To quote these verses once again:

“Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21

“…be as shrewd as serpents…”
~ Matthew 10:16

“The fact that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of something does not put existence and non-existence on an even footing.” p. 49

God is not something that can be “proven.”

And even if the god of the Bible could be proven to exist as surely as the sun has been proven to rise in the east, would it make a difference to you?

After all: You know that your ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend exists, and yet you continue to want nothing to do with them.

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“I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.” p. 53

You know… when it comes to questions about the existence of a god or gods, I don’t have the patience for “amusing.”

Such questions are, to me, too serious for amusement.

Once again, Richard Dawkins, I’m failing to see the decency that you claim to have as a non-believer. For now, you’re doing nothing for me but perpetuating the “Atheists are assholes” stereotype that atheists like The Closet Atheist are successfully combating.

“There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities.” p. 54

0:10 — 0:13:

Seriously, though: this quote made me scratch my head and go Wait. What?

I’ll return to it another time.

“Remember Ambrose Bierce’s witty definition of the verb ‘to pray’: ‘to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy’.” p. 60

Depends on what you’re praying for.

And: What’s wrong with being “unworthy”?

Acknowledging one’s perceived limitations is humbling. And if I had to choose between being humble or being prideful, I’d choose humility.

One reason why being: It is humility that prevents one from becoming the next Wolf of Wall Street:

“[Natural selection] has lifted life from primeval simplicity to the dizzy heights of complexity, beauty and apparent design they dazzle us today.” p. 73

I agree.

“Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.” p. 77

Terminators, as the name implies, don’t create life, they end it.

To take your “Terminator” reference one step farther: God is either Sarah Conner or the T-1000. Because, as Terminator 2 (1991) shows us, it is not possible to be both at the same time:

0:00 — 0:30:

Let’s say God is Sarah Conner.

Well, then He can’t terminate John Connor (i.e., us; the human race) because termination is against His nature.

And if termination is against His nature, what is left for Him to do but create, nurture, and protect, like a mother instinctively does for her child?

But what about all the people in the Bible God kills, or commands be killed? you might be thinking.

Well, ask yourself: “Why?”

After all: A mother is a creator and a nurturer. But she will not hesitate to protect; to kill the intruder who tries to make off with her sleeping child.

Aliens (1986)

Continued in Part 2

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Why I Don’t Like Sex Scenes

Note: Graphic content.

Now that school is back with a vengeance, my relaxation time has been limited.

Thus, I’m still on Shizune’s arc in Katawa Shoujo.

Katawa Shoujo, I would say, is 90% “Great!” and 10% “No!”

Why? The sex scenes.

Katawa Shoujo1

And I’ve realized why, when it comes to a story’s content, I don’t object to, for example, a woman cutting her own arm off with an electric carving knife…

Evil Dead (2013)

…but as soon as clothes come off, I’m thinking Hands over the eyes!

The reason why is:

I feel like I’m seeing something I shouldn’t see.

What I mean by that is:

Ever see two people together and think I’ll just leave you two alone. I’m like that when it comes to sex scenes. I feel like I’m witnessing something that should only be witnessed by those two people.

As the reader or viewer — as an outsider looking in — I’m not one of the two people experiencing this intimate moment. And so the gravity of the moment is, ultimately, wasted on me. So it’s better if I remove myself entirely, for the sake of the moment. Thus, I close my eyes, press fast forward, click rapidly, or turn the page.

Though I’m not a fan of the sex scenes in Katawa Shoujo, thinking back on the two that have occurred so far, one thing I appreciate about Katawa Shoujo is that, true to the story’s name (“Crippled Girls”), no matter how explicit such scenes get, ultimately I never got the impression that the girls were objectified, treated as a means to an end, or otherwise seen as anything less than who they are: human beings.

God’s Not Dead 3 — Here We Go Again

Thoughts on A First Look at the Newest Movie in the GOD’S NOT DEAD Franchise:

I find it ironic that the subtitle of God’s Not Dead 3 (out March 30, 2018) is A Light In Darkness, seeing as how, if secular and Christian reviews are anything to judge by, neither of the previous two “God’s Not Dead” films were the light in the darkness that Christian art is supposed to be (Matthew 5: 14 — 16):

“To say God’s Not Dead preaches to the choir would be an understatement. It’s the pastor, staring in a mirror, preaching to himself.”
~ The A.V. Club

“There are serious movies about the Christian faith, about the persecution of the faithful, and about the intolerance that goes both ways. ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ is not one of them.”
~ www.rogerebert.com

“But on the whole, this movie really isn’t worth anyone’s time. And it’s startling to see that this film, of all films, has been so richly rewarded by the ‘faith-based market’. I shudder to think of what this bodes for the future of the genre.”
~ Peter Chattaway, God’s Not Dead

What the world needs is art that portrays goodness, truth, and beauty, regardless of where that goodness, truth, and beauty comes from.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~ Philippians 4:8

If you want more proof that the “God’s Not Dead” series is lacking goodness, truth, and beauty, this is the reaction an atheist (Mark) has to his girlfriend (Amy) telling him she has cancer:

Related image

Way to not read your catechism, Catholic screenwriters:

“Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam’s descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin – an inclination to evil that is called “concupiscence.” Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ’s grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.” (Emphasis mine.)
~ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 405

To me, no Christian who believes that a character like Mark is an accurate representation of an atheist has a leg to stand on when they criticize secular films for having one-dimensional Christian characters.

On a related note:

“The realistic, gritty atmosphere created by screenwriter/director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview is tremendous. It is practically ruined, however, by Anderson’s evil caricature of Eli, the revenge-minded preacher, and the over-the-top, unrealistic performance of Paul Dano as Eli. In fact, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is one of the most mean-spirited, anti-Christian, superficial, and poorly played portrayals of religion ever created in movie history. God knows there have been plenty of insincere, sinful leaders in the Christian church, but there have also been many good Christians who have exposed and opposed such false leaders. The short length of most feature films often require stereotypes, even negative ones, to tell a good story, but when they are so mean-spirited, superficial and poorly played as this one is, they appeal only to narrow-minded bigots with an ax to grind, whose mental faculties and hearts have been poisoned by their sinful misanthropic prejudice. (Emphasis mine.)
~ Movieguide’s review of There Will Be Blood

Now let’s see what Movieguide thought of God’s Not Dead:

“There are a lot of stories in GOD’S NOT DEAD, but they work because they end up in the same place. The direction and acting are very good. The ending is terrific. GOD’S NOT DEAD is a powerful evangelistic movie. Even better, the entertainment value transcends the message. Viewers won’t be bored. They will be enlightened and inspired by GOD’S NOT DEAD.”

You reap what you sow. If you (Christians) don’t want to be seen as one-dimensional bad guys by non-Christians, than don’t make non-Christians one-dimensional bad guys.

In the universe of “God’s Not Dead,” atheists are devoid of empathy and compassion. Which reminds me of 0:26 — 0:48:

I don’t have high hopes for God’s Not Dead 3.

In conclusion:

If you’re looking for goodness, truth, and beauty — something to put a smile on your face; something to help light your way through the darkness — here are some pieces of art that do that for me (feel free to leave your own down in the comments):

“Caramella Girls” by Miku Hatsune

I like that to think that, when God confused peoples’ language at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1 — 9), it was so that, one day, mankind would be able to listen to a Japanese pop star sing a song in Swedish.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
~ Isaiah 55:12

“Obstacles” by Syd Matters

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
~ Proverbs 27:17

“Bataille Decisive” (“Decisive Battle”) from Neon Genesis Evangelion (“The Gospel of the New Century”)

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
~ Matthew 25:40

Interstellar (2014)

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
~ Psalm 19:1

“May the beauty which you pass on to generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate attitude.”
Saint John Paul II’s Letter to Artists

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Life Is Strange (2015)

“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14 — 16

And:

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
~ 1 Corinthians 12:7

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Why Christians Should Give “Kiki’s Delivery Service” A Chance

Wild Child — Update

Upon reflection, I believe that Part 7 of “Wild Child” is not up to the standard I’m setting for myself. One reason why being: Part 7 illustrates the drawback of writing a story on the fly.

To explain:

I have a vague idea of the story’s plot points, but “Wild Child” has essentially just been me writing whatever part of Thorn’s story I wanted to write next; me writing the first words that come to mind whenever I think Wild Child. And Part 7, I believe, shows that more than any of the other parts.

To go into more detail:

Part 1 sets up that this story is Thorn telling her mother, Skye, how she found herself in possession of a scarf, and what this contact with civilization means for the two of them.

But: Part 5 is written from the point of view of Skye. Something that Thorn would know nothing about since she is off in a castle and Skye is in their cave, wondering what to do. So, Part 5, in the context of Part 1, currently makes no sense.

So:

Over time I’ll be revising what I have already written and doing a better job of planning exactly what I want to happen in this story.

Thank you, everyone, for reading.

May it be a story you enjoy.

And: Feedback of any kind is always appreciated.

One more thing:

Despite this being a story about a naked little girl and a naked woman — a child and her mother in nature in their natural state — this isn’t a “dirty” story.

What I mean by that is: If you’re reading this story in order to think lewd thoughts and then do lewd acts, you’re in the wrong place.

Yes, there is nudity.

Yes, there might be sex. (Haven’t decided yet.)

But: My goal with all of it is to move the story along in some way. Not to put it there just for the sake of being there.

For example: Skye is naked, and she raises her daughter to be naked, because she doesn’t want anything to do with civilization anymore. She wants to put her old life behind her. For a reason that will be made clear later in the story.