Blog

My Take on Another Controversial Topic: Transgender Rights

As a secular, democratic humanist I believe that human beings have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that any infringement on or limitation of these inalienable rights should be restricted to issues in which one individual’s pursuit of happiness infringes on the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of other human beings.

So what about the rights of persons who identify with a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth?

I believe that transgender people should have the right to identify with and dress as the gender of their choice. If someone is born a “he” and wants to be referred to as “she”, I believe they should have that right.

But what about children (minors)? Should society allow children to undergo treatment for gender transitioning? My answer: I don’t know. I don’t have enough information. But I believe we should let scientists, medical experts, and psychiatrists/psychologists reach a consensus position on this issue as to what is best for the child and then base our laws on that expert consensus.

What about transgender athletes? This is the tough one for me. I do not believe it is fair for someone who was born male and has been exposed to higher levels of testosterone for a least part of his/her life, giving him/her larger bones and larger muscle mass, to compete in female sports. This previous exposure to higher levels of testosterone gives them an unfair advantage.

I see the only fair solution for this issue to be: (1) persons who have had any exposure to testosterone (in male quantities) cannot participate on a female sports team or league. (2) or, we abolish all gender based sports and select players based on ability alone.

Transgender people are our fellow human beings who deserve our understanding and compassion.

.

.

.

.

.

End of post.

We Must Compromise to Resolve the Abortion Issue

The abortion issue will never be resolved until both sides understand and attempt to have empathy for the views of the other side.

Pro-Choice people believe that the government should not be able to tell a citizen what she can do with her own body. To most reasonable people, this is a valid argument and a good starting point in the discussion.

Most Pro-Life people support more personal liberty, not less. So why would they want the government to have the legal right to tell individual citizens what they can and cannot do with their bodies? Answer: Because they believe that there are two human beings involved in this issue. There are TWO bodies, not just one. They believe that the rights of the second human being must also be respected.

So how can we respect both sides’ views on this issue and come to a reasonable, pragmatic solution? Answer: We retain Roe v. Wade. In addition, we codify into law a woman’s right to an abortion, for any reason, at any time prior to the viability of the fetus/baby. Once the fetus/baby is viable, abortions can only be performed for severe medical issues.

Both sides must give some ground. Abortion opponents must stop insisting that all zygotes and fetuses have legal rights. Abortion advocates must stop insisting that a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy at ANY time during that pregnancy “because it is her body”.

We must all be reasonable and practical to resolve this very difficult issue.

If Pro-Choice people would stop saying, “My body, my choice!” but instead say, “My body, my choice…until fetal viability“, I believe they would win over a much bigger percentage of the American people to their side.

Added content, 5/14/2022:

I encourage everyone to watch the video in the link below. It was made by an OB-GYN who has performed over 1,200 abortions. He describes the types of abortion procedures performed in the different trimesters of pregnancy. He is now anti-abortion for all abortions, regardless of the age of the fetus. In my opinion, he went from one extreme to the other! Let’s keep the status quo. Let’s keep Roe v. Wade as the law of the land. Let’s keep abortion legal in the first two trimesters but only allow abortions in the third trimester when the mother’s health or life is in serious danger. In my opinion, third trimester fetuses/babies are human beings whose right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should be respected under the law.

.

.

.

.

End of post.

Don’t Worry: Jesus Has Everything Under Control

All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

 Romans 8:28

I mentioned in my last post that I have been feeling depressed. The world seems really ugly right now. Innocent men, women, and children are being bombed and blown apart each and every day in a brutal war in Ukraine. Thousands of people are still dying from Covid-19. Inflation is soaring. Political extremism dominates our politics. Violent crime is on the rise.

But, hey, Jesus has everything under control.

At least that’s what Christians tell us. To non-believers this statement sounds absurd, but to Christians it is very, very comforting. No matter what happens in this crazy world, an all-powerful superhero is looking out for them personally, every minute, of every day, for the rest of their lives. And this all-powerful, all-knowing superhero has promised that everything…let me repeat that…everything will work out for an ultimate good.

How comforting…if it were only true.

False hope: the reason why supernatural belief (religion) will probably never die out.

.

.

.

.

End of post.

Should the West Do More To Help Ukraine?

I am depressed.

Day after day, we in the West sit in our comfortable living rooms, watching our televisions, witnessing the brutal slaughter of thousands of Ukrainian men, women, and children. Yes, we send arms and money, but otherwise we sit and do nothing. Why? We fear a war with the Russians.

But how long do we wait? Do we wait until Ukraine and its people have been completely decimated?

The West faced the same dilemma with Hitler. We made concession after concession to him, hoping that if we gave him what he wanted, he wouldn’t demand more. He wanted the Sudetenland to protect “ethnic Germans”. We gave it to him. He then wanted all of Czechoslovakia. We let him have it. He wanted Austria. He annexed it and the West did nothing. So why stop? He then took Poland. France and Britain declared war…and then did nothing…giving him time to knock off a few more neutral countries.

Appeasement only encourages more aggression.

Putin invaded Georgia to protect “ethnic Russians”. He then invaded Crimea with the same excuse. The West imposed a few sanctions but that was it. They continued to buy his gas and oil. He got away with it! Now he is invading Ukraine. Who is next? Moldova? Georgia? Finland? Sweden? Do we wait until every neutral country in Europe is overrun before we say enough is enough?

I say the West should conduct its own “special military operation” and flood Ukraine with NATO troops. Institute a no-fly zone.

We must stop this tyrant. Now. We must stop allowing him to scare us with his threats of nuclear war. He is not suicidal. Let him keep Russia, but let’s drive him out of Ukraine.

.

.

.

.

End of post.

Gary’s Easter Message: Christianity is a Cult. Get the Hell Out!

Gary: As I have said many times on this blog, brain-dead bodies never come back to life. Ever. The Christian Resurrection Story is an ancient tall tale.

Christian reader of this blog: You’re going to be judged by that brain dead body, Gary.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them; and they were judged, each one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15

The Lake of Fire

Gary: Yes, yes. Jesus loves me so much…but if I reject his love…he will toss me into a boiling lake of fire. Nice, guy!

Not.

Interesting coincidence. Just today my teenage son asked me if he could attend a rock concert at his friend’s evangelical church. I hesitated at first (because I know that the aim of this concert is to convert kids like mine to evangelical Christianity), but I then said:

“Ok, you can go, as long as you understand what you are getting into. Christianity is not a club. Christianity is a cult. It is very important that you know the difference between a club and a cult. Both clubs and cults will attempt to lure you into joining with promises of good times, a lot of new friends, and a brighter future. The difference between the two is when you decide to leave. A club may be disappointed that you want to leave, but once you’re gone, life in the club goes on. Not so with a cult. The cult will do everything in its power to keep you in the cult. At first they will shower you with loving concern to get you to stay. But if that fails, they will resort to threats. They will threaten you with punishment in this life and the next. Leave a club and it is still possible to be friends with the club members. Leave a cult and you will be shunned. You will be labeled as “sinful”, a “back-slider”, as someone who has surrendered to “evil”.

So enjoy your time with your evangelical friends but just remember what they are really after: another convert for their cult.”

.

.

.

.

End of post.

The Majority of Bible Scholars Say…

Oh, if I had a dollar for every time a Christian apologist used majority Bible scholar opinion as his trump card to defend his ancient superstitions!

“The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars say that Jesus’ empty tomb is an historical fact.”

“The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars say that the Early Creed was written within 3-5 years of Jesus’ death.”

“The overwhelming majority of Bible scholars say that the Gospels contain historically reliable eyewitness testimony.”

In the past I would argue with these guys, attempting to point out that a significant percentage of Bible scholars disagree with the above claims. But what I really should have said is this: Who gives a s*#t!

Let’s not give any respect whatsoever to religion’s “scholarly” nonsense!

The overwhelming majority of Koran scholars believe that a man in the seventh century flew on a winged horse into outer space, and, that this same man wrote a book dictated to him by an extra-terrestrial being (angel). Do you think we should trust this “overwhelming majority expert opinion”, my Christian friends?? Of course you don’t.

So who cares what any holy book “expert” says! He or she is hopelessly biased by his or her infatuation with ancient tall tales of supernatural wonders, tricks, and sorcery. Magic!

People who believe in magic should not be trusted to objectively evaluate historical claims involving magic.

Period.

.

.

.

.

.

End of post.

In the End: People Believe What They Want to Believe

If the era of Donald Trump has taught us anything it is that people who want to believe an irrational claim cannot (usually) be persuaded by evidence, regardless of the quantity and quality of that evidence, to change their mind.

And this principle very much applies to Christian apologetics. If your entire world view revolves around the belief that you have a personal relationship with an invisible superhero who rules as Lord and Master of the cosmos, no amount of evidence, regardless of its quantity and quality, is ever going to change your mind. This belief gives you too much comfort and security. You desperately want it to be true!

After almost 8 years as a counter-apologist debating Christians on the irrationality of Christianity’s supernatural claims, I have come to the conclusion that the only manner in which this ancient superstition will be defeated is when the believer himself comes to the realization that his personal relationship with this superhero/god exists only in his (or her) head. How will this happen? It will probably happen in the same manner in which many Christians first became Christians: an intense emotional experience. But this time it will be an intensely negative emotional experience. They will experience a trauma in their life and Jesus will not be there for them. “Why not,” they will ask? “I have been faithful to Him. Why did He allow this to happen to me?” The response that “God’s ways are not our ways” will not work this time. The bubble of faith has been burst.

In my experience, fighting with Christians over evidence only makes them dig in harder. I do not see that it makes any real difference in changing their minds except in very few cases (like with me).

In an age in which humans have access to vast amounts of science-based knowledge literally at their fingertips (the internet), a large percentage of them still stubbornly plow ahead with their superstition-based views. Why? Why are human beings such a superstitious lot? It is probably because we fear death but also because we fear life. We fear loss. We fear tragedy. We fear failure. Superstitions give us hope. Superstitions help us feel less vulnerable. And if you believe that you have an all-powerful superhero watching over you and your children, what amazing comfort and security that gives!

Religious belief is not rational. It is emotional. Religious belief will only be rejected once the believer realizes his or her emotions cannot be trusted.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I Denounce the Use of Philosophy in the Defense of Religion as Obnoxious, Condescending Sophistry

Sophistry: the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.

Gary: There is no good evidence that the supernatural operates within our universe. Subjective perceptions of invisible ghouls and goblins do not count as good evidence.

Theist: Hmm. “Good evidence ” is itself a subjective evaluation. Which you illustrated by subjectively opining. And as EVERY evaluation and judgment is subjective you are working your way up to a falsehood, and/or impossible standards fallacy.

All observations are subjective. We infer objective reality from them. Basic Popperian indiect realism, the basis of all informal empiricism, as well as all of the formal empiricism of science.

Gary needs to study up on epistemology.

Gary:

Wrong. The scientific method is all that is needed to analyze any supernatural claim. If a claim defies scientific examination, it can rationally be assigned to the realm of opinion. And that is exactly what philosophy is: the pompous, self-indulgent opinions of mostly white, upper-class males whose principal reason for seeking a degree in that field is often simply to attain the ability to condescend to their fellow man (and woman). This is why, I believe, that an advanced degree in philosophy is now the principal course of study for aspiring Christian apologists.

One does not need to read one sentence of the first chapter of Philosophy 101 to know that the supernatural does not operate in our universe. I reject your sophisticated-sounding philosophical arguments on this issue as nothing more than obnoxious, condescending sophistry. In other words, you are full of crap, sir.

We each exist for but a short time, and in that time explore but a small part of the whole universe. But humans are a curious species. We wonder, we seek answers. Living in this vast world that is by turns kind and cruel, and gazing at the immense heavens above, people have always asked a multitude of questions: How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Did the universe need a creator? Most of us do not spend most of our time worrying about these questions, but almost all of us worry about them some of the time.

Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.

Stephen Hawking, probably the greatest scientific mind of our generation

Is Subjective Morality a Defensible Worldview for Compassionate Humanists?

Atheist: Morality is concerned with rules mainly because we are a social species and therefore we need rules in order to live together. Unlike some species – polar bears, skunks and others – that only for the purpose of reproduction they meet, they live as solitary individuals and are in less need of discipline than those species like apes, whales, dogs, and others which are more social and some form of disciple has evolved among them.

Morality is human made. Some people think because morality is subjective, all of a sudden it isn’t real. Art is human made, and real. Factories are human made, and real. And whether one accepts this or not, morality is human made, and real. It is humans that have decided and will decide what is right or evil for humankind. And because we evolve in our thinking, morality will always remain a work in progress.

Gary: If human morality is subjective, it may be real but what it means is that any behavior, no matter how abhorrent, becomes moral if approved by the majority. Is that a defensible position for compassionate secular humanists? I don’t think so.

Here is a question for atheists who hold to a worldview of subjective morality: If you lived in a society in which the majority voted to euthanize all handicapped children because of their financial burden to society, would such behavior be moral, simply because the majority says it is?

These are the kinds of questions Christian apologists are going to hammer you with, my dear atheist friends. If you say, “yes”, you will vindicate the apologist’s view that atheism is inherently immoral and evil. If you say, “no”, you have proven the apologist’s point that absolute morality does exist.

Answer to this dilemma: Become a deist. A deist can appeal to the existence of moral absolutes ordained by an unknown creator, and thereby condemn the immoral attributes and behavior of the Christian god. Atheists cannot do this. Christians will never accept a skeptic’s criticism of the immorality of Yahweh/Lord Jesus if the skeptic holds to subjective morality.

Deism is the dagger into the heart of modern Christian apologetics which teaches budding apologists to deflect criticisms of Christianity by attacking the immorality and irrationality of atheists’ subjective morality.

.

.

.

.

End of post.

Does Deism Imply That the Purpose of Creation Was the Creation of Humans?

Atheist: The problem I have with the deist label is that the implicit assumption still seems to be that the creator created the universe in order to create us.

Gary: Deists believe in science and in Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolution gives zero indication that human beings are somehow special or the goal of creation. To deists the creator is likened to a clock-maker who once the clock is made leaves it alone to function on its own.

Whoever or whatever the creator is or was, the evidence indicates that:

-The creator does not violate the natural order of the universe. Ever.
-The creator is indifferent to the suffering of human beings and animals, is incapable of intervening, or is dead.
-We are on our own. Human beings have been appealing for help from the creator for millennia with no response. It is time to ignore his, her, or its existence and make the world a better place for our good and the good of those we care about.

.

.

.

.

End of post.