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Comments by justinesaracen

Go to: 2012 Project Reason Video Contest

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by justinesaracen

I like Perfect Faith for the simplicity of it's message, but Conflict for its professionality. I especially like the final statement: "We must chose to live with questions that may never be answered or with answers that may never be questioned."

Ghosts was amusing, worthy of a SNL sketch, but I saw no obvious connection with atheism or even with religion.

Fri, 20 Jul 2012 08:23:14 UTC | #949622

Go to: Religious Doctor Denies Medicine for HIV Positive Gay Man

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by justinesaracen


Mon, 02 Jul 2012 15:45:54 UTC | #948464

Go to: Former Louisiana pastor tells humanists about his conversion to nonbelief

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by justinesaracen

I have GOT to stop reading the comments sections of these articles.

Every time I read the assertion that atheism is just another religion, I feel my pulse race and that little vein on the side of my head begins to throb.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 18:32:08 UTC | #947228

Go to: Gorillas Seen Using "Baby Talk" Gestures—A First

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by justinesaracen

Interesting idea, and reasonable on the face of it, but the videos were weak evidence. One could not make out any special gestures at all (and presumably the researcher would use her strongest evidence). I would insist on waaaay more evidence than those scenes if I were weighing the validity of an article for a scientific journal.

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 10:25:55 UTC | #947172

Go to: Church accused of 'scaremongering'

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 14 by justinesaracen

Wow, J.U. Chimpanzee.

I had no idea it was as serious as that.

I wonder if Ellen and Portia had any idea of the cataclysm they may have unleashed.

Tue, 12 Jun 2012 15:45:50 UTC | #947067

Go to: Parasitic Plants Steal Genes from Their Hosts

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by justinesaracen

If you can steal some of them, why not steal all of them?

Adds a whole new layer of meaning to 'the body snatchers'.

Sun, 10 Jun 2012 06:07:27 UTC | #946693

Go to: School Challenge

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by justinesaracen

If children are to be taught ABOUT religion, it should be called something like Comparative Religions and include non Abrahamitic religions and paganism, so that students get a truly detached view of what religion is.

It would be extremely useful, for example, to study the parallels between the birth and resurrection stories in Christianity and in Ancient Egyptian theology (Isis and Horus/Osiris), Mithraism, etc. Old Testament tales of slaughter should also be taught in all their gore, so that the students have a clear idea of what a war-god sounds like, and these myths too should be compared to similar ones in other primitive religions, war-like religions. No kid should leave school with the ridiculous belief that any religion is a 'religion of peace.'

But I'm guessing schools in both the UK and the US are far from this view of the subject.

Sat, 09 Jun 2012 16:43:28 UTC | #946579

Go to: Why We Don't Believe in Science

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by justinesaracen

Na, it just means that the average American is f**king stupid.

(I'm an American, so I get to say that.)

Fri, 08 Jun 2012 15:25:28 UTC | #946346

Go to: Religious conversation and the Socratic method

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by justinesaracen

In principle, asking people questions is a good way to keep them engaged and less defensive, but the trick will always be to keep them on track.

In my ongoing disputes on Facebook, invariably, when I ask a hard question (i.e. how they reconcile a benevolent god with the suffering of the innocent) the respondent jumps over to another point, usually a talking point of their own and then they meander into an area where they pour out what they've memorized. So you would be wise to formulate a clear question, perhaps one with a simple yes or no answer, and refuse to move away from it until it is answered.

Good luck. I find that you almost never change the mind of the person you are disputing with, but you do put a nick into their argument, and sometimes they flee. Any third parties watching will chalk up one point to you for clarity and logic and will note that the believer has either fallen silent, or gotten personal.

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:50:47 UTC | #946127

Go to: Nun's sex talk raises the Vatican's ire

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by justinesaracen

One can only hope the contempt she is getting from those old male virgins in dresses will sour her ever more on Catholic dogma as a whole. She is so obviously right and they are so obviously wrong.

Tue, 05 Jun 2012 21:05:21 UTC | #945758

Go to: From the Edge of Faith to the Embrace of Reason

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by justinesaracen

Amazing to hear this woman's journey, but appalling to know it took her over 40 years to make it. I went through all the same steps, though at the age of ten.

Clearly, religion had an iron grip on her mind.

I wonder now how long it will take her to start thinking her husband is way behind her in maturity.

Tue, 05 Jun 2012 21:02:10 UTC | #945757

Go to: How Humans Became Moral Beings

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by justinesaracen

I have to agree with Sciencemd68. The author overlooks the existence of altruism in many species, some extremely far from us on the evolutionary tree.

Another element I'd like to throw in is the interaction between males and females as well as females and females. When the females are smaller than the males, which is usually the case, and particularly when they are pregnant or tending infants, they require constant altruism from other tribal members, not only from the fathers of their offspring. I see a place here for the imperative of altruism to spread into other areas of tribal behavior to ensure group success.That is, altruism between the females in caring for other females' infants, can evolve toward altruism from non-fathers toward females and infants in general to insure the robustness of the tribe. In short, altruism does not necessarily arise solely out of male competition/cooperation.

I'm not in a position to develop this hypothesis very far, having just thought of it right now, with my breakfast coffee, but I do think that developing a theory of altruism based on the cooperation of males in the hunting team is blinkered.

Tue, 05 Jun 2012 08:58:56 UTC | #945656

Go to: 2,000 protesters support gay rights

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by justinesaracen

Good point PERSON

I had forgotten about the 'deal-making' end of it. While that is no longer overt in non-orthodox western marriages, in religiously-sanctioned marriages, there is at least the assumption that the religious community in general approves of the match and protects the 'value' of the bride until the appropriate person comes along to marry her and move her on to her next womanly duties.

Gay marriage still takes place in the completely unsanctioned sphere of the sexual outlaw, so even if someone does 'hand over' the bride (I'm guessing this does not occur in gay-male marriages) it is purely formal, since the entire romance preceding the marriage takes place outside the social norms.

I find myself smiling at some distant future when there will be (atheistic, of course) Yentas matching up boys with other nice boys, and girls with other nice girls. Maybe there could be an application, where you'd have to tick the box "same" or "other" before you hired her.

Thu, 31 May 2012 08:02:19 UTC | #944721

Go to: Atheism IS Increasing at the Expense of Theism!

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by justinesaracen

I also would like to see both an updated (at least to 2011) chart and one that has more of a breakdown in categories. Not only "do you believe in the power of prayer?" and that sort of thing, that tests real religiosity, but also a breakdown among the main religions.

In the west, at least, one would expect there to be far fewer apostates from Islam than from Christianity, so if I see that the UK, for example, has an increase in atheists from 9.6% to 17.7, I am certain the increase would be primarily among CoE Christians and not among Muslims.

I suppose the average Muslim apostate would not be keen to admit it, especially answering a telephone call in his own home, so it might be nearly impossible to get a good count.

The US continues to be a puzzle. It is as if a virus got loose and infected a huge portion of the population, mainly the Republican portion, and made them stupid.

I sense the plot of another dystopic sci-fi novel coming on.

Thu, 31 May 2012 07:50:16 UTC | #944718

Go to: 2,000 protesters support gay rights

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by justinesaracen

I think the bible thumpers all believe that gays are having more and better sex than they themselves are. And I chuckle to myself thinking they're probably right.

Pious, church-approved sex, must get pretty boring, and we all know how much more fun it is to do what's naughty.

So I can easily imagine Mr. and Mrs Good Christian doing it once a week 'by the book', all the while with lewd fantasies of gay boys and lesbians thrashing away in screaming orgasmic sex. It must drive them nuts.

Wed, 30 May 2012 20:57:59 UTC | #944615

Go to: Birds got smart by becoming big babes

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by justinesaracen

I always wondered how the term 'bird-brain' arose when birds are in fact, quite smart.

I have two lovebirds, a Peach-face and a Fischer's lovebird, who fly freely in a room of their own (provided with tree branches for a 'normal' birdie life. Both are tame, but the (smaller) Fischer's interacts with me much more than the Peach-face, flying across the room to me in anticipation of breakfast, nipping me when she wants more millet, and replying when I whistle to her.

For ventilation, rather than close the door, I hung a gauze curtain over the doorway, but after a few months, she discovered how to pivot around the edge and escape the room. One day, I saw her escape and land on the picture frame across the hallway. As I approached, she noticed me and, rather than fleeing me, she hurried back into her room, pivoting in the opposite direction on the curtain edge, as if to pretend nothing had ever happened.

Since then, I have found the picture frame askew (and bird-pooped) several times, so I know she has gotten out again, but each time, she returns to her room on her own. It seems to be her little bit of naughtiness.

Such behavior can't be spontaneous. She obviously remembers both how to get out and how to get back in, and she seems to even plan for it when I'm not around to chase her down. Plus, there is no reward for her effort, only the naughty pleasure of the 'outing.'

She is utterly adorable because of her coloring (about five colors) but obviously there is a charming little schemer inside that gorgeous body as well.

Tue, 29 May 2012 07:47:12 UTC | #944168

Go to: Mr. Deity and the Rights

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by justinesaracen

Oh, I LOVE Meme's idea of Richard being Mr. Deity's worst nightmare. What a perfect chance for Richard to let loose his best shots, (maybe a couple in honor of Hitch) and Deity mealy-mouthing his way around them, the way the religiots do. The writers can weave a conspiracy between Dawkins-the-doubter and Lucy, who, of course, is inseparable from the theme of forbidden knowledge/light.

Is there someone we can write to?

Sat, 26 May 2012 19:42:24 UTC | #943684

Go to: How the Web is killing faith

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 17 by justinesaracen

As a full time fiction writer, I sit for twelve hours a day in front of a computer screen. Obviously the human brain cannot produce for that amount of time, so I spend tons of time playing on the internet. Much of that is on Facebook.

And before you wrinkle your nose, you should know that FB gives me an unexpected audience for the refutation of all kinds of religious woo.

Not being able to remain silent (a common writer’s weakness) I confront some woo peddler or other almost every day, and my comment often elicits an entire dispute. Even if it begins in a civil way, which is about half the time, the discussion soon becomes soured by the believer’s sense of outrage. I am always careful to speak to the issue and not to the person, and bend over backwards to be polite, but usually by the third response, their anger sets in. The ad hominems begin arriving like snowballs and soon the believer deletes the entire conversation, if he can, unfriends me and storms off.

While the believer remains unreformed (as far as I know), he/she has in any case been challenged and his/her argument publicly discredited . More importantly, the onlookers have witnessed a civil discussion by one person met with angry sputtering by the other. I am convinced that I have chipped away at many a wall of ignorance this way.

So yes, the internet, above all Facebook, provides an open forum where ideas can duke it out. Beyond the drivel about what people ate on vacation or the platitudes about how to live and love, little bits of useful information and good ideas do percolate through, as much in the commentary as in the postings themselves.

I have lost a handful of theist readers though. Quel dommage.

Sat, 26 May 2012 08:08:46 UTC | #943625

Go to: Mr. Deity and the Rights

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by justinesaracen

I'm always amused by the Mr. Deity bits, sometimes even a lot. I am intrigued by the idea of their doing a segment with RD but, like Meme, I wonder how they will set up a confrontation between the deity and the one man who is most influential in denying his existence.

I have no doubt they'll come up with some hilarious dialog, on this contradiction alone.

Richard: "What am I doing here? I don't believe in you."

Deity: "What are you doing here? It's guys like you that screw up the whole plan.

Lucifer: "Now boys, just take a minute and get to know each other. I'm sure you'll find you have a lot to talk about."

Deity: Of COURSE. I should have known. Another one of Lucy's tricks. I thought we took care of this when i made doubt a mortal sin. Doubt and knowledge. And what, you have a Ph.D in evolutionary biology? Well, hell, that's two strikes. You are in very big trouble, fella."

Fri, 25 May 2012 07:51:46 UTC | #943433

Go to: Ultra-Orthodox Jews Rally to Discuss Risks of Internet

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by justinesaracen

Y'know, when I post things like this on FB, I invariably get called an antisemite or a 'hater' by someone. I can't tell you how bloody sick I am of that crap.

Wed, 23 May 2012 08:34:52 UTC | #943070

Go to: Moral Clarity and Richard Dawkins

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by justinesaracen

I hate when people develop elaborate woo constructions using what seem like simple metaphors, and the whole thing is crap. Crap, I say.

Tue, 22 May 2012 14:16:10 UTC | #942828

Go to: Inspirational atheism

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 24 by justinesaracen

Hey Meme,

Thanks for the Christina Rad (used to be Radinsky or Radkovsky?) video. Charming, down to earth, and pretty smart. Maybe in a few years she'll be that charismatic speaker we're looking for.

As for Tyson, yeah, sometimes he can be a pain. It's annoying when it looks like an atheist, smells like an atheist, tastes like an atheist and gives strong atheist lectures (see "Stupid Design) yet refuses to identify as one.

Sat, 19 May 2012 16:32:17 UTC | #942298

Go to: Symbolism and Social Exchange Leads to Homo sapiens Expansion

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by justinesaracen

I was thinking the same thing. Was this the first sign of a primordial Urge to Facebook?

I mean, cave dwelling and painting gives a whole new meaning to "Posting on your wall," doesn't it?

Wed, 16 May 2012 07:34:05 UTC | #941786

Go to: Scientific evidence proves why healers see the 'aura' of people

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by justinesaracen

What might have been an attempt at a serious study turned out to be a pop-science article that by now I am sure hundreds of wooists have posted to their Facebook pages.

Synesthesia itself is an interesting neurological phenomenon, and certainly deserves studying, but allowing it to in any way legitimize witch-doctory is shameful.

Wed, 16 May 2012 07:29:11 UTC | #941784

Go to: Darwinian Selection Continues to Influence Human Evolution

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by justinesaracen

I had the same reaction as Carl Sai Baba. The natural selection that might have still been working in the 18th and early 19th centuries pretty much predates modern anti-biotics and high-tech medical intervention. While children in 18th century Finland might still have been dying of premature birth, weak hearts, rubella, tuberculosis, and ordinary infections from weak immune systems, they don't now, at least not in the developed countries.

It seems self evident to me that the very existence of prevention of natural childhood deaths would be an immediate blow to one of the basic evolutionary processes. Now, in the west, the 'less fit' can reproduce. I know, I'm asthmatic and my son and two of my nephews are asthmatic, and they have children.

Wed, 02 May 2012 07:13:01 UTC | #938950

Go to: Sidebar: Pastor’s loss of faith started with loss of hell

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by justinesaracen

One thing I've noticed, these ex-preachers are all good public speakers. At least on skill that is transferable.

Tue, 01 May 2012 08:12:07 UTC | #938593

Go to: U.K.'s Royal Society Finds No 'Silver Bullet' for Population Issues

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by justinesaracen

These sweeping recommendations are so obvious as to seem banal. Of what value is it to say, "We must reduce population growth" when we've known that for at least half a century?

I see little evidence of governments willing to act on behalf of anything other than the ruling powers in their respective countries. In my own very prosperous country, the US, those powers are well known and utterly resistant to sacrifice.

Sorry, but I passed pessimistic years ago and am now somewhere beyond nihilism.

Sun, 29 Apr 2012 14:20:24 UTC | #938151

Go to: Rare Protozoan from Sludge in Norwegian Lake Does Not Fit On Main Branches of Tree of Life

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by justinesaracen

Thanks to Richard's comment, I don't have to take this article too seriously. I was already annoyed at the phrase,

"organisms that descend from closer to the roots of the tree of life"

Branches do not "descend" from roots, dammit, so already I was brought to a halt trying to figure out what he meant.

Sat, 28 Apr 2012 18:27:46 UTC | #938020

Go to: Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss: Something from Nothing, at ANU (Canberra Australia)

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by justinesaracen

Oh, sorry. After the discussion with L. Kraus, I switched over to the Q&A with the cardinal and was responding to that, not to the original post.

Blushes and tiptoes out of the room.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 17:58:03 UTC | #936314

Go to: Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss: Something from Nothing, at ANU (Canberra Australia)

justinesaracen's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by justinesaracen

I get soooo sick of hearing the same old hackney'd remarks:

Atheism is a religion

We get our morals from religion

Science doesn't answer the REAL questions

blah blah. I couldn't watch this to the end. I was beginning to tear my hair out.

Sat, 21 Apr 2012 17:56:26 UTC | #936313