Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why Wouldn't A New Atheist Assume That Anyone Critical Of Any New Atheist Is A Conservative Christian?

I'm looking at Amazon's bestsellers in Books > Religion & Spirituality > Atheism. It seems the great majority of them are either books by New Atheists, or by theists trying to warn everyone about how atheism will lead to chaos, Destruction and Doom. Former atheists seems to be a big hit in the 2nd category, with Hitch's formerly atheist, now conservatively Christian brother leading the way.

Dawkins' God Delusion is #1 (Kindle Edition), #2 (Audible Audio Edition) and #3 (Paperback) on this list, 11 years after its first publication, ka-CHINGGG. Hardcover's #9.

The first book on this list which is neither New Atheist nor apologist and anti-atheist is Russell's Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays at #22. I don't know whether Penn Jillette is an atheist or not, but he's an atheist and his newest smash hit is at #25, Freud's Future of an Illusion is #27. There's a Buddhist atheist at #30, a couple of Christian atheist dingbats in the #30's, but for the most part the top 100 continues to be New Atheists and theists warning of the horrible dangers of atheism.

My point is, maybe it's not so unreasonable that New Atheists tend to automatically assume -- wait. let me rephrase that: it's not so unreasonable when anybody assumes any time anybody criticizes any New Atheist about anything, that they are dealing with a theist. Usually a conservative Christian. Assuming that most people don't actually create their own opinions about anything, but adopt them from those seen as intellectually authoritative. Which sadly seems to be a very safe assumption.

Not so unreasonable, because when someone here in the Western world criticizes a New Atheist, about anything, far more often than not it is a conservative Christian. Atheists tend to assume that the most prominent atheists are sensible people, conservative Christians tend to assume that atheism is a disaster, and very few others tend to give much of a crap about such things one way or another. And without a doubt, the most prominent atheists currently are New Atheists. They are CRUSHING us Steven Bollinger Can Haz Atheists in the bestseller lists.

Yeah, that sounds like the world I live in. Talking points rule, actual deep thinking is misunderstood, because it is unfamiliar. Well, we're just going to have to keep doing it until people get used to it, and start doing it themselves. God, I'm exhausted.

My Apologies To Michael Ruse

I thought I had savagely attacked a piece by Ruse entitled Why I Think the New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster in this blog. Apparently not. I attacked it years ago, but not in this blog, but in readers' comments elsewhere on the Internet.

I don't apologize every time I savagely attack a piece of writing. But in this case I was attacking a piece of writing I had barely skimmed, and which was much different than I thought it was. Ruse published "Why I Think The New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster" 6 years ago, and during those 6 years I myself have come to think that the New Atheists are a bloody disaster, and I've also learned that Ruse is an atheist, like me. An atheist who, like me, hates the New Atheists, among other reasons, for the damage they do to the once-good name of atheism.

I've been meaning to really read Ruse's piece, not just skim it, and now that I've finally gotten around to it I see that I attacked something with which I now emphatically agree -- now that I've gotten to know the New Atheists a bit, and so know what n the Heck Ruse was talking about. I don't agree with every single thing Ruse writes -- for example, as is the case with some other contemporary non-New-Atheist atheists, he exasperates me by not clearly stating that he is an atheist, which has the effect of helping the New Atheists in their attempt to monopolize the public image of atheism -- but he and I share some points of opposition with the New Atheists. Here are 3 quotes from Ruse's piece with which I entirely, wholeheartedly agree:

"I do not think that all believers are evil or stupid."

"If we criticized gene theory with as little knowledge as Dawkins has of religion and philosophy, he would be rightly indignant."

"I have written elsewhere that The God Delusion makes me ashamed to be an atheist. Let me say that again. Let me say also that I am proud to be the focus of the invective of the new atheists. They are a bloody disaster and I want to be on the front line of those who say so."

I too want to be on that front line. For the sake of atheism. for the sake of the legacy of Hume and Nietzsche and Russell and Sartre.

The fact that I've complained in this blog about people commenting on posts of mine which they've barely read makes my earlier abuse of Ruse doubly embarrassing, and makes this post doubly necessary. I reacted in amazement (until it happened often enough that I got used to it) when people reacted to my abuse of Michael Paulkovich by assuming not only that I was an historicist but also that I was a Christian. And here I had done pretty much exactly the same thing to Ruse.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Chess Log: A Horrendous Mess

Your eyes do not deceive you, readers: it's the 2nd Wrong Monkey Chess Log post of the day. I don't know if I've ever posted 2 of these on the same day before. As in the previous one, an opponent rated significantly lower stunned me with a quick checkmate. 5-0 blitz, I played Black.

1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. ♗c4 a6 4. O-O e6 5. d4 b5 6. ♗d3 c4 7. ♗e2 h6 8. ♘c3 ♗b7 9. d5 e5 10. ♖e1 ♘f6 11. ♗f1 ♗e7 12. ♘h4 ♘fd7 13. ♘f5 ♗f6? 14. ♘xd6! ♔e7 15. ♘xb7 ♕c7?? 16. d6!! ♕xd6 17. ♕xd6 ♔e8 18. ♘d5 h5 19. ♘c7 1-0 {Black checkmated}

What a horrendous mess. And up until the 10th move or so, it seemed like an easy win for me. Where did it all go wrong? At 13. ... ♗f6? at the latest. 13. ... O-O would have been better, definitely. It was pretty much all over by 16. d6!!.

Chess Log: 1. d4 d5 2. ♗f4 h6 3. e3 g5 4. ♗e5 f6??

I'm a creature of habit, to put it mildly. If I depart from my standard openings, I'm not experimenting: I've either examined my previous standard opening, found it wanting and now have a new one; or I absented-mindedly departed from my standard course. In this game I did the latter, and got pounded by an opponent ranked significantly lower. 5-0 blitz, I played Black.

1. d4 d5 2. ♗f4 h6 3. e3 g5 4. ♗e5 f6?? 5. ♕h5! ♔d7 6. ♗g3 ♕e8 7. ♕g4 ♔c6 8. ♕f3 ♘d7 9. a4 a5 10. ♗b5 ♔b6 11. ♕xd5 c6 12. ♕b3 cxb5 13. ♕xb5 ♔a7 14. ♕xa5 1-0 {Black checkmated}

My standard response to 1. d4 d5 2. ♗f4 (and also to 1. d4 d5 2. e3) is 2. ... e6. My game move of 2. ... h6 is not necessarily terrible, but 5. ... f6 certainly is, giving White's Queen a nice big clear lane to Black's King. In retrospect, at that point 5. ... ♘6 seems better, but still not great.

Instead of the game move 6. ... ♕e8, perhaps 6. ... ♔c6 would've given me a chance to build up a defense.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Barry Bonds

My favorite baseball player of all time (think: 3rd all-time highest career offensive WAR, 4th OBS, 6th on-base, 5th slugging, more than twice as many intentional BB's as #2 Hank Aaron, 1st overall BB's, 1st runs created, 3rd runs scored, 4th total bases, 2nd extra-base hits, 5th RBI's, 33rd SB's, 1st HR's, .984 fielding % over 22 seasons, 7 Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Sluggers, highest single-season HR's and 7 MVP awards) was once again not inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday.

However, back in April his last remaining steroids-related Federal conviction was overturned. So there's that.

We'll get 'em next year.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Similarities Between Cats, Dogs And Humans


We and cats and dogs share the majority of our DNA. We all yawn and stretch. We all sneeze. We all do this --

-- when we're confused and/or intrigued. We all occasionally want to can haz cheezburgr. We all like to snuggle:

We all scratch ourselves when we itch, and we all get wide-eyed when we're startled.

It's not just we who can learn from other species. To give just one example of them learning from us: every single one of those totally-adorable "unusual animal buddies" stories, in which animals from 2 or more different species form a close relationship --

-- and by the way, can we agree that there's actually nothing unusual about it any more? -- every one of those sweet friendships between a cat and a duck or a seal and a penguin or a dog and a deer or what have you -- every one of those relationships has happened when all of the animals involved were under the care and protection of humans.

When I'm urging people to appreciate animals more deeply, I am most definitely including humans among those animals. Not every single interaction between humans and other animal species harms the others, that's every bit as obviously untrue as saying that other species don't have emotions or memories. The belief in the supposed wonderful quality of things "untouched by man" is just the irrational flip side of the more traditional irrational belief that humans are the "pinnacle of creation." Both rest upon an assumption that there is a fundamental difference between humans and other species, that the others are "natural" while we humans are "artificial." Nonsense. We're a part of nature. I urge you to ponder that the next time you look into the eyes of a dog or cat or some other friendly non-human creature which has eyes.