Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jack Chick Part Two

A little while back I wrote about the fantastically talented and awesomely ignorant Jack Chick and company.

I've been reading the materials on the website for shits and giggles and upon further reading, and a nod from AronRa (one of my heroes) I've come to another realization about Chick Tracts. I had often wondered whom they were intended to convince as it always seems that the non-believers being convinced in the strips really already believe in God, they just deny it.

That's when I came to this realization that made Chick Tracts smaller, sadder, and more sinister. They're not intended to convince non-believers at all. They're propaganda for the already converted. These tracts teach believers slogans, reduce opposition to unreasoning monsters and hypocrites, while holding believers up as the only ones who know the truth - a truth that they came to by careful examination of the evidence.

I'm sad because before I pictured Jack Chick as a well-intentioned but ignorant cartoonist trying to spread the word the best way he could. Now I picture him as, at best, a sly propagandist proud of the effect he's having on the ignorant masses of bible-thumping fundies. At worst a spineless shill of someone else's propaganda.

Okay, let's get some points out of the way.

Evolution is not a religion. It has no dogmas, no articles of faith, requires no special clothing, has no doctrines for followers, and has nothing to say about the afterlife.

Evolution is a comprehensive and substantially-proven theory that explains the diversity of life on this planet. Not the origin of life, and certainly not the origin of our solar system, nor the entire universe.

Bible quotations are only an effective proof of God if you already accept the bible as true. The tracts argue that given point A, point B follows. Further that point B proves point C, which proves points D, E, and F, etc., etc. However, point A is bullshit.

Science isn't a religion! We who accept scientific explanations for reality don't do so because we have unwavering faith in scientists! There are scientists that I revere, but there are also writers and singers that I revere, and if any of them turned out to be phonies or cheaters I would turn my back on them. Scientists who distort their findings to achieve a desired result are scorned, their careers ruined. Preachers can distort meaning all they want because in the end nothing in their holy texts can be proved and so nothing can be disproved, either.

Where exactly are these level-headed believers so lovingly rendered in Chick Tracts? From what I've seen most of the converted, they're quick to anger, condemn, and exclude.

That's all I have for now. Who'd have thought this was going to turn out to be an atheist blog? Kind of inevitable when you think about it.

Thanks,

Christian

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jack Chick is Wonderful.

Have you ever heard of Jack Chick? Since the eighties he's been writing, drawing, and publishing bible tracts for good Christians to go out and spread the gospel in a fun and easily understood way. His website is here: www.chick.com and the tracts can be read online for free here.

Back when I was a teenager I used to collect these things and other tracts like it. I thought they were hilarious. At the time I did believe in God, I just couldn't accept that the people who published tracts could approach anything like the truth. But since I believed in God it started to get to me after a while. One can only read about how one is going to hell so often before it begins to get to one.

Now, of course, I've learned a few things. In order for Chick Tracts to be effective, the reader must already believe in God. Not just any God either, Jack Chick's God. Over and over in these tracts there is something odd going on. When I was younger I couldn't put my finger on it, but a few years ago I identified what was wrong. In the tracts, the reason why the non-believers haven't accepted Jesus as their lord and savior is because they've just never thought about it. They are instantly converted by kind expository Christians by being told that God so loved his children that he sent his only son to die on the cross for them so they could be cleansed of sin and get into heaven. Non-believers in these tracts are instantly and completely convinced of the truth of these claims. On the basis of simply being told as though the truth of the bible were simply self-evident! Jack Chick evidently hasn't met a non-believer who arrived at his conclusions after a great deal of thought.

This leads me to a an idea I have about Jack Chick. He's never met anyone. Anyone outside his congregation, anyway. I imagine he lives and works in a cabin in the woods and when he's finished a new tract, he calls his publisher who sends someone to meet with him and take the holy text from him for printing. I believe this because his characters are caricatures. Every believer is a good-hearted, good-intentioned, reasonable, compassionate, and patient person. Every non-believer is a selfish, cruel, mean-spirited, bad-tempered malcontent who derives pleasure from keeping the word of God a secret. They're hilariously unreasonable and usually uglier than the believers.

Chick and company are wonderfully ignorant of anything that isn't in the bible, from science to sexuality to hobbies and how actual real people behave. I say wonderfully because I want you to understand how I envision their place in the world. We live in reality. A reality defined by history and shared culture. Progress in science and human rights and happiness comes from learning about what is true and acting upon it. I consider Jack Chick and his cohorts to be Reality's Loyal Opposition. This is a valuable service because one's opponents helps to define one's place in the world and view of it. Their side looks to a heavily edited, badly translated transcription of an old Jewish oral tradition for guidance in the modern world, and my side finds out what is true by going and and looking.

Keep up the good work, Jack! We wouldn't be the reasonable, compassionate people we are today without your ignorant bigoted intolerance!

Thanks,

Christian

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Solipsism

I just read that the definition of 'solipsism' is the belief that one's self is the only real person in the world. Or extreme self-absorption or self-indulgence.

I don't know if my last post still holds a lot of validity, but it's a concept I was trying to bring across and if anyone ever actually reads this blog and has a better word, I'd be glad to learn it.

Thanks,

Christian

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mysogyny, Homophobia, and Solipsism.


Is what I read on the internet representative of common attitudes? Because either I'm only visiting a select number of websites with a very narrow focus or our civilization is rife with people who hate women and gays.

I admit, I troll through a lot of humor websites - funny pictures mostly. But a few things that stand out are tendencies toward hostility and exclusion of gays and women that don't quite measure up to an arbitrary standard.

One meme that spread around for a while was the 'Gay Test.' These were pictures of hot girls either in front of a guy or carrying a product such as a newly purchased MacBook. The caption says that if you noticed anything but the hot girl first then they have bad news. We all know what the 'bad news' is. It's notable that it's referred to as 'bad news'. It says interesting things about the person who wrote the caption that he considers the news bad. It probably wasn't calculated, he probably wasn't even thinking about it, but there it is. Either he considers being gay to be a bad thing or he wants others to think he believes that.

Homophobia is pure solipsism. I was going to blame religion, but religion is just an excuse. A self-defined perception of the world is the cause of almost all bigotry. We're all naturally solipsistic because our brains are the only way we have of interpreting our perceptions, so everything we see and hear is filtered through our identities. Let's make a hypothetical man. This man isn't aware of his solipsism, he simply believes his opinions and perceptions are correct. This man is also straight. The thought of having sex with another man is repulsive to him. Because this man believes himself to be inherently correct he also thinks that homosexuality must be inherently repulsive, so anyone who chooses to be gay is an incomprehensible and frightening deviant. Remember, our hypothetical man believes homosexuality is a choice because he is solipsistic and so believes that everyone is the same as him.

There is a positive correlation between religiosity and homophobia only because the vast majority of people are solipsists (because it's only natural) and most people are also religious. In other words, a coincidence.

I've known a lot of guys who were homophobic and considered themselves tolerant and broad-minded. Their very generous slogan on the matter was "They can do whatever they want with each other as long as they don't do it near me." So the gays are free to exist so long as they stay out of sight.

Kids are still calling 'gay' things that they don't like or are stupid. More habit than anything else, I think. They don't realize that if any of their friends or classmates are secretly gay, every time the slur is used they feel more afraid and ashamed.

I had a conversation with a teenager just last year about gays. She said she didn't at all have a problem with lesbians, but gay guys were just gross. I asked her why and she emphatically stated, 'because of what they do!' I pointed out to her Dan Savage's impeccable logic. Not all gay men do the thing she was disgusted by, only about 75%. Almost half, 49%, of straight couples admit to doing that thing on a regular basis. Gay people make up maybe 5% of the population. Do the math.

For those of you not in the know, misogyny is hatred of women. What I've noticed going around the internet, and I've commented on this only recently, is an abiding hostility toward women in general and unattractive women specifically.

Watch me pontificate!

The biggest reason for this hostility is that men are raised to believe that women are eye candy for them. In their worlds, women are decoration and accessories. They come to believe that they are entitled to see beautiful women everywhere and so become personally offended when they see a woman they find unattractive.

In general, men's attitude towards women is conflicted at best. We tend to get twisted up between what we want, what we're told we should want, and what we think our friends want. Our ability to see women as objects to be at once desired and reviled is so well-known as to be cliché.

I want to give some advice to the general male population whom, studies indicate, are probably regularly consuming internet porn. These girls women you're looking at are people with whole histories. They are daughters, sisters, and occasionally mothers. They don't always have the best reasons for posing in the photos and videos you're looking at.

Anyhow, this is just the impression I get from trolling around the internet. It's not like I head out downtown every day and talk to hundreds of strangers. I could be wrong.

Thanks,

Christian