Monthly Archives: July 2013
I’m a guest blogger again at Defeating the Dragons. Samantha will be familiar to you as a recent guest poster on here. Her blog is fantastic; check out her recent posts on gender, rape culture, and my body is not a stumbling block.
Originally posted on Defeating the Dragons:
Today’s guest post is from Jonny Scaramanga, who blogs about his journey out of fundamentalism and into atheism, as well as his experience with Accelerated Christian Education at Leaving Fundamentalism. “Learning the Words” is a series on the words many of us didn’t have in fundamentalism or overly conservative evangelicalism– and how we got them back. If you would like to be a part of this series, you can find my contact information at the top.
I used to hear about it when I was a child. Usually it was a customer or business associate of my dad’s, who didn’t have a wife – he had a ‘partner’. I could almost hear the scare quotes even then. If I hadn’t picked up the disapproval in my parents’ voices, it would be made explicit soon enough.
W.A. Criswell’s Did Man Just Happen? is a creationist classic, first written in 1957 and revised in 1972, making it an early example of the modern creation movement.
It’s completely fucking terrible.
Now, I’m not aware of any creationist literature that’s good, but it’s hard to imagine much of it is worse than this. There are creationists who consider themselves rigorous scientists, and try to theorise workable creation models. Criswell is not among them. He was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, and his argument consists almost entirely of assertion and irrelevancies. His characterisation of evolution is so far from what scientists actually think that the book could only be persuasive to someone who has never read any mainstream science, and never been taught to think critically. Such as – just for a hypothetical example – a student in Accelerated Christian Education.
If you’ve followed this blog at all, you’ll know that Accelerated Christian Education has taught that the probable existence of the Loch Ness monster is one in the eye for evolution by natural selection. Making this claim public has been my biggest success. It has been quoted in articles on Salon, AlterNet, the Washington Post, the New York Daily News, the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph… Hell, even The Sun got in on the act.
The Christian Post ran a story on it, and they even got a quote from spokespeople for Answers in Genesis and the Discovery Institute… and even those guys said it was a stupid argument to make. It was an unmitigated PR disaster for ACE. Read the rest of this entry
Growing up as an ultra-conservative Christian, everything is a sin. Here are 22 of them which turned out to be a lot of fun:
Ghosts were demons, witches were devil worshippers, and trick or treating was a deal with the devil.
This also meant that things like Ghostbusters were off-limits. Although for some reason when I received a pair of hand-me-down Ghostbusters boxer shorts I was allowed to wear them. I don’t know, maybe it was judged that downstairs was already a demon-possessed region.
I doubt there’s a long-running ex-fundamentalist blog on the internet which hasn’t received a comment along the lines of “You were never a REAL Christian”. I got just such a charming message the other day.
What’s with that? Why are fundamentalists not sniffing around their churches for impostors? There must be a fair few of them around, if everyone who has ever left the faith turned out to be a fake. Why are fundamentalists so intent on denying that I was ever one of them?
It’s all part of the problem I discussed in “Why fundamentalists will never listen to me“. Fundamentalists believe that in order to understand the Bible, and real Christian faith, you must yourself be a real Christian. Without salvation, you cannot understand the things of God.
This has the handy side-effect of meaning they never have to listen to anyone who disagrees with them. People who disagree with fundamentalists are Not True Christians, and therefore incapable of understanding Christianity. It follows that these people cannot possibly make valid criticisms of their faith. Who says fundamentalists can’t do logic? Read the rest of this entry
Earlier this week I hosted Adam Laats’ engaging argument that, while teaching Creationism in schools might be a bad move, it’s not something it makes sense to ban.
Now Adam has kindly posted my reply on his blog. For those of you that have the patience, there’s already a long debate with a committed creationist in the comments.
I think my argument is plausible, but at the same time, I don’t think that many people agree with me. I welcome your objections. In particular, what would help us to settle the question is a clarification of what is meant by “harm”, and what types of harm to children justify state intervention.
First, we need to get the misleading notion of parents’ rights off the table. Parents are humans, with human rights; children are humans, and they also have human rights. Parental rights are not human rights; they are rights that one human being has to exert control over another. Can you think of another instance where liberal democracies allow a person to act in this way? The only similar examples I know are slavery, imprisonment, and archaic ideas of marriage where ownership of a woman passes from her father to her husband. These do not seem like paradigms to emulate.
From Marianne Talbot, I have learned a useful expression: a self-sealing argument. This is an argument which cannot be refuted, because it doesn’t allow any counter-argument. Almost every fundamentalist argument is self-sealing. This is why, in the end, I concluded that fundamentalism couldn’t possibly be true. Some will accuse me of scientism for this, but I concluded that unless a belief is testable, there’s no point holding it. All will become clearer if I show you an example.
The worst insult a fundamentalist can ever throw at you is ‘unbeliever’. On the face of it, this is a very strange accusation to make.
Liberal Christian: “I don’t believe the virgin birth was a literal event.”
Fundamentalist: “A pox on thee, UNBELIEVER!!!!!!!!!”
LC: “Er… yes, I don’t believe that, so you could well describe me as an ‘unbeliever’ if you like.”
Fundamentalist: So you admit it! You are full of UNBELIEF!!!!1111!!!
LC: *puzzled face* Read the rest of this entry
I’m honoured today to host a guest post by Adam Laats. Laats is an historian in the Graduate School of Education at Binghamton University, State University of New York, USA (recently appointed Associate Professor). He is the author of Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars. He blogs about conservatism and American education at I Love You but You’re Going to Hell. When I started writing, Adam’s blog was the first one I found, and it’s been one of my most-read blogs ever since. Adam and I recently got into a debate about whether a petition to ban the teaching of Creationism is a good idea. Here is Adam’s argument; my response will be on his blog soon.
My fundamentalist neighbor is a dick.
He lets his dogs bark at all hours of the day and night.
He parks his work truck in the yard.
He built a huge ugly palisade fence between his yard and that of our other neighbor.
After years of living next door, he still doesn’t know my name.
He berates me occasionally about America’s woeful abandonment of God and the Bible.
He throws his garbage into the yard of the church next door.
I think he drinks.
In short, my fundamentalist neighbor is a dick. But it wouldn’t make any sense to try to pass a law to stop his dickishness. Yet that is the attitude, apparently, behind some other recent anti-fundamentalist efforts. Read the rest of this entry
From Fleetwood Today, 19/6/2010:
A TEACHER who molested a teenage girl more than 25 years ago has been put behind bars.
Graham Wilcock subjected his victim to numerous sexual assaults while he was a 25-year-old teaching assistant at Emmanuel Christian School in Fleetwood.
He would later become deputy head teacher in charge of the senior school.
The attacks spanned two years in the 1980s from when the girl was 13 to 15 years old.
His victim kept the assaults secret until the 1990s when there was an inquiry into his actions and he was sacked from the school but not barred from teaching.
Last year the woman – now in her 30s – contacted police after seeing a picture of her attacker and deciding she wanted the offences brought into the open.The 50-year-old was doing charity work in Romania when he was informed detectives wanted to speak to him regarding the abuse but returned to the UK to admit his guilt.
The school was the first in the UK to use Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), a method aimed at re-introducing Christian standards into the classroom.