Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Why I Still Hate Christmas and Always Will

Christmas

The skies will rain fire, the oceans will boil, and the streets will run red with Christmas decorations…

Christmas is awful. Christmas is the worst. Christmas is evil in calendrical form. If the Devil were real, he’d look upon all that is Christmas, smile, and say, “Nice.” There is nothing good about Christmas.

Why is Christmas so terrible? Well, its badness probably cannot be adequately described in human language, but let’s try. For one, Christmas combines two of the worst things in the world: religion and consumerism. At Christmas, people are encouraged to buy a bunch of stuff they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of a god that doesn’t exist.

But Christmas does something special: Religion and commerce, such potent forces for evil when considered separately, combine with such insidious synergy that they produce a holiday far more nefarious than the sum of its parts. It’s not merely that people spend money and believe in God during the “Christmas season”—which now apparently begins shortly before Halloween—since people do these things all year long. It’s that each of these things brings out the worst in the other. Continue reading

John S Still Hates Christmas

John S explained why he hates Christmas last year (and the year before that), but it’s all still true:

It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to you to hear that I hate Christmas: For one, I like hating things that are popular. More substantively, though, Christmas combines two of my least favorite things in the world: religion and consumerism. At Christmas, people are encouraged to buy a bunch of stuff that they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of a god that doesn’t exist. Continue reading

Atheist “Discrimination”

Loyal NPI readers will know that I’m a very proud atheist. In fact, atheism is one of the few intellectual positions that I try to actively promote—in some ways, I consider it the defining ideological debate of the modern era.

But for all my staunch pro-atheism, I care surprisingly little about anti-atheist “discrimination.” Every so often a new study will come out showing that atheists are the least trusted, or least tolerated, or most feared “minority group” in America. While I find these facts disconcerting, I don’t really expect anything different. A recent op-ed in The Washington Post, though, referred to the “bigotry” that atheists face:

As with other national minority groups, atheism is enjoying rapid growth. Despite the bigotry, the number of American nontheists has tripled as a proportion of the general population since the 1960s.”

This kind of hyperbole is far more upsetting than the facts themselves, and is often counterproductive to the goals of atheists. Continue reading

A Word on Christmas Specials

If John S can rerun his attack on Christmas, Tim is compelled to react in kind. Here’s his breakdown of Christmas specials from last year.

Unlike my I-can’t-believe-I-still-call-him-a friend, John S, I love Christmas. It is, without doubt, the most wonderful time of the year.

The week before Christmas, I indulge in one of my favorite traditions: sitting down in front of the television and watching about 12 hours’ worth of Christmas specials. Now, not everyone has the time to consume all that holiday goodness (which admittedly gets a little repetitive at times), so here’s the official guide to what’s worth your time.

Must-See Specials

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The standard to which all half-hour holiday specials should be held, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) highlights Charlie’s all-too realistic desires to understand Christmas amid the haze of Christmas cards and commercialism—here represented by things such as aluminum Christmas trees, Snoopy’s Christmas decorations, and Sally’s Christmas list (about which she explains, “I only want what’s coming to me. I only want my fair share”). Charlie’s depression around the holiday is legitimate, and its ultimate solution—provided of course by his best bud, Linus—is one of my favorite scenes ever from television, with a little help from Luke. Continue reading

Why I Still Hate Christmas

John S explained why he hates Christmas last year, but it’s all still true:

Today is December 18th, which means we’re a week away from the 25th, the two-month anniversary of Christmas. So now seems as good of a time as any to explain why I hate this “holiday” with a fiery passion.

It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to you to hear that I hate Christmas: For one, I like hating things that are popular. More substantively, though, Christmas combines two of my least favorite things in the world: religion and consumerism. At Christmas, people are encouraged to buy a bunch of stuff that they don’t need in order to celebrate the birth of a god that doesn’t exist. Continue reading

Joie de Vivre: Christmas Music

One of the (many) great things about Christmas is getting the chance (and the social leniency) to listen to Christmas music. Like most Catholics and Christmasphiles and unlike most everyone else, I love Christmas music.

I understand the complaints about Christmas music. I even agree that, for the most part, it sucks. Like, nine out of 10 Christmas songs played on the radio and in malls and other stores are indefensibly terrible.* Nothing promotes lazier “creativity” in music than Christmas, with popular artists knowing that an album of a dozen shoddy covers of public-domain classics will sell tremendously, since everyone knows someone who likes Christmas music and thus thinks buying that person a Christmas CD is a great and thoughtful gift.

*To be fair, this isn’t much different from the usual ratio on the radio these days.

Continue reading

You Can (Obviously) Prove A Negative

Everyone knows this is true. For one, there are several obvious negative statements that pretty much everyone knows are true and can easily prove (“George W. Bush is not the President,” “Red is not the same color as blue,” “Carlos Mencia is not funny,” etc.). On a less mundane level, whether a statement is positive or negative is a matter of how it is constructed—every positive statement (p) can be restated as a negative (~ ~ p).

And yet you will still hear people—smart people—resort to the obvious fallacy that you cannot prove a negative. Most commonly, you hear it in discussions of atheism. I’m sure even I have resorted to such a claim in my defenses of atheism. Even the brilliant Daniel Dennett erroneously invoked it here to explain why he couldn’t disprove God:

“You can’t prove a negative… I think it was Bertrand Russell who once said that he couldn’t prove that there was not a teapot orbiting Mars. So he’s a teapot agnostic. I’m a teapot agnostic with regard to God, too. I can’t prove that God doesn’t exist.” Continue reading

36 Past and Numerous Future New York Times Articles Consolidated Under One Title

“Jews Exist in Every Part of the Country, Some Parts of Other Countries, Are of Different Races, and Sometimes Did Not Start Out Jewish”

Un-Mosqued

Should there be a mosque anywhere near here?

In discussions of religious pluralism—like the one going on about the “Ground Zero mosque”—I always find myself in an odd position. I’m generally a fan of diversity and tolerance, but I absolutely hate religion. So even though I risk aligning myself with irrational, hate-mongering bigots like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, I still essentially agree with them: I don’t think that there should be a mosque near Ground Zero.

Now, I should clarify that I also agree that this is a local issue, and that the government should not restrict the rights of Muslims to practice their religion. With that said, most of the plan’s opponents have acknowledged this, and maintained that even though the Cordoba House (or Park 51, or whatever it’s officially called now) can be built, that doesn’t mean it should. After all, the Nazis were allowed to march through Skokie, but that doesn’t mean they ought to have. By the same logic, just because the developer is allowed to build a mosque doesn’t mean that any clear-thinking individual ought to approve of the decision.

Similarly, the fact that the Cordoba House isn’t actually at Ground Zero is germane, but not decisive. It’s foolish to pretend that proximity doesn’t matter. The location, specifically how near it is to Ground Zero, was a key selling point for the group that bought the site—they wanted a site for moderate Muslims to “push back against the extremists.” If the mosque is close enough to make such a point, then it is close enough to draw criticisms of being insensitive.

Nevertheless, the main argument in favor of allowing the mosque is more principled. Put simply, it is that the moderates behind the plan for the mosque (or Islamic community center) should not be conflated with the extremists who perpetrated the attacks of September 11th. The moderates are not to blame for the actions of the terrorists. Continue reading

Top 173 Things in World History: #2. Jesus

I know; I thought he would be No. 1, too. But this is the “Top 173 Things in World History” and not the “best.” And while Jesus may have been the best thing in world history—at least according to me—he didn’t do quite enough to get the top spot. You know, his ministry did only last like a year.

But, regardless where you stand on Christianity and religion in general, it’s difficult to deny the transformative significance of Jesus of Nazareth. He is the most influential individual human being of at least the last 2000 years and probably going back even further, into those years we define by how far they were from his birth. You can interpret that influence as good or bad, but you cannot reject it. Continue reading