Excuse Me Mr. Preacher Man: Doesn’t Perpetual Mean Permanent?

A certain subset of Arabs and Israelis refrain from battle during the holiday of Ramadan, but seeing as how I'm not much a respecter of so-called "holy-days" in the first place, I'll spare no mercy to Ebonmuse this beautiful Thanksgiving afternoon.

Besides, the 'wife' (and 'baby') are out-of-town along with the rest of my usual 'crew' up here, so I've got ample writing time today. Which shouldn't matter, as although we'll certainly give it a fair shake, we don't need more than eight syllables to expose the flaw in Ebonmuse's so-called "Lesson of Autumn Leaves," and I already accomplished that in the title.

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Giraffes, X-Rays, & The Earth’s Axial Tilt: My Response To D

First, some backstory to this admittedly oddly-titled entry: Ebonmuse has a post titled Ten Questions To Ask Your Pastor in which he uses the following rhetorical device:

Why do Christians believe in the soul when neurology has found clear evidence that the sense of identity and personality can be altered by physical changes to the brain? —Ebonmuse, Ten Questions To Ask Your Pastor

My immediate questions were, “What in the Christian concept of the soul suggests that our sense of identity and personality shouldn’t be altered by physical changes to the brain?”

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A Dialog With Ritchie

Recently, I was over at DA criticizing Ebonmuse for jumping to conclusions in his essay, Original Virtue, when a commenter named Ritchie pitched me a few questions relating to my criticism. I explained to Ritchie that Ebonmuse moderates my persistent dissent, which means I am only allowed to comment on Daylight Atheism once per 27 hours, which means I have to choose my battles carefully. Since each of Ritchie's questions could easily support a post of their own, I suggested we move the conversation here, where comments are not moderated and speech is truly free. So, enough of my blathering, here's Ritchie in his own words:

To give readers some background, cl and I were both posting on daylightatheism.org, on a post about original sin and free will. Naturally, Adam and Eve were talked about. Ebonmuse, the site's author, asked why should the sin of Adam and Eve pass on to their children, and by extension, to us? Why can't each person be born with a blank slate? God, apparently did not arrange things this way. Instead, He Himself introduced the taint of sin and then blames us for possessing that flaw.

At this point cl responded by saying he believes there is nothing in scripture to support the idea that God introduced sin into the human race, and I responded with this:

Who made the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden (knowing in advance that Adam and Eve would eat from it)? Who gave instructions to Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit despite the fact that they had no concept of good or evil and were therefore unable to make moral decisions on their own? Who created the serpent (or Satan, whichever you prefer), knowing in advance the role he would play in man's downfall? Scripture says God, God, God. Whichever way you turn it, the entire episode in Eden is an almightly cock-up and it's all God's fault, frankly (despite the fact that we humans CARRY the blame for it…).

At this point, cl is in conversation with many posters, responding to many questions per post, so he asked he to ask my questions here where he could give them the time needed to do them justice, and so I am, in the hope that he will.

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Religion Does Not Entail Misogyny

So, I was about sit down and write with a premeditated topic in mind: last week's sentiments on "evidence for God" as discussed last week at SI's. Problem was, I stopped by DaylightAtheism first, where I found the following interesting hypothesis: an inversely proportional relationship between religiosity and misogyny exists – at least – so suggests guest writer Sarah Braasch in her second essay there. I would've left it well alone, but she implied some things about San Francisco that I want to challenge from personal experience, and I feel any San Franciscan in their right mind would have to agree.

If you don't want to read her post first, it's basically a story about how some sailors took her on a cruise through the Neopolitan prostitution subculture, oddly juxtaposed against the religious beast that is Roman Catholicism. As I said, most of her post was easy to sympathize with. Sure, the moral indifference to the victims of prostitution she describes is deeply troubling, especially considering its close proximity to what is perhaps the world's leading religious superpower. Atheists aren't the only ones noting that the abject conditions of humanity ironically persist whether a culture is predominantly religious or not.  Problem is, she starts to jump the gun and get a little bit preachy for atheism right about here if you ask me:

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Authority Effectively Undermined

I was cruising around the blogosphere this morning when I found this post at DaylightAtheism. Although I don’t necessarily share all of Haught’s conclusions as expressed in the source material, I felt Ebonmuse’s response was fraught with inconsistencies.

First on the list is the following peculiarity:

…Haught presumes for himself the right to judge which atheists are or are not sufficiently “serious”

Why should that be any sort of problem? After all, Ebonmuse certainly presumes which theists are sufficiently serious, for example, he says all that believe in demons are ignorant regardless of actual intelligence and should be unilaterally mocked. This makes Occam’s razor look more like a guillotine! As my heart goes out to the closet GLBT kid with a sternly homophobic and closed-minded dad, similar for the otherwise rational person who’s had experiences reasonably interpretable as psychic (‘psychic’ as in the Jungian sense of archetypal), spiritual or biblical in their ultimate nature. Such hasty generalization and harsh criticism in this regard can only effect cognitive dissonance, which is of little use in uncovering the truth.

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Lyell Claims Earth Is 6,000 Years Old! or, False Argument #21: Bible Teaches Interfaith Love Is Sin

Alright, so I had stayed up until the morning yesterday writing and backlogging what I feel are three interesting and different posts for the upcoming week, on the decision that I was going to take a 10-day break from posting and blogging.

So what happened?

Well, I woke up this morning and after getting into the swing of things, popped over to DA where what I read in the first few sentences just happened to comprise perhaps the biggest example to date of an exegetical post of Ebonmuse's that completely misses the mark.
So I was overcome with an irresistable force to write, and barfed out the following.

All for the better, I suppose. It didn't take long, and I had been wondering what I would stumble across for #21 in the series. Although admittedly skewering a fish in a barrel, this fits the bill perfectly.

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False Argument #18: Personal Anecdotes = Empirical Evidence, or I Believe Mother Teresa, Not George Bush

Please, somebody help me determine that I am not crazy, mentally deficient, or possibly worse. I've now heard the following argument in the blogoshpere two times, and I immediately pegged it as a fallacious case of special pleading with absolutely zero bearing in logic whatsoever.

What do you think? Here's the argument, from a website titled, Why I Hate Jesus:

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On Inerrancy: An Open Response To mikespeir

The following is my latest response to commenter mikespeir at DaylightAtheism regarding a post titled On Inerrancy. I was unable to post it because the host, Ebonmuse, decided the thread was "going nowhere" and closed comments. I disagree, and the discussion need not be limited to myself and mikespeir. As always on my blog, anyone with anything to say is more than welcomed to get in there and speak up. I've no fear of dissenting opinion and feel the way to reach common ground is often to allow both sides to exhaust themselves.

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