30-second rants: the playlist.
As I start to compile my 30-second Twitter rants into YouTube videos in order to make them easier to embed, I've started a playlist.
I don't intend on making the videos pretty in any way, but it's certainly nice to be able to embed them as a single video instead of a series of different videos.
Jeffrey Nordstrom: Openly Secular
I'm not a very confrontational person and I've kept pretty quiet about faith-stuff, all in all, for the last few years. My online presence is obviously critical of religion, and I've cultivated a digital sympathy for various atheist-folks and ideas, but I've always avoided saying anything about it myself. As a teacher, I don't want to cause an unneeded ruckus, and I really don't think "what I have to say" is any different or more articulate than anybody else out in cyberspace.
However, yesterday I broke my own general rule and posted a comparatively aggressive video to Twitter:
On the "context" argument.
I listen to podcasts. Today I heard the argument from context on two different shows: The Halli Casser-Jayne Show and Dogma Debate.
The Halli Casser-Jayne Show featured an interview with Mubin Shaikh, apparently a "former militant jihadi turned undercover agent" who argued that the militants in ISIS/ISIL have taken sections of Muslim holy texts out of context in order to move their Islamic State forward. Starting around the 15:00 mark, Mubin speaks,
It goes on. He insults those who "misunderstand," who do "superficial shallow readings," and "ignore contexts." It's some classic "No True Scotsman" stuff. In effect, he's saying "They get it all wrong because they hold to an ideology that doesn't respect context."
Later in the evening, while walking the dog, I was listening to Dogma Debate. A pastor claimed that we need to appreciate "context" in order to understand God's orders in order to understand the creation myth and whatnot. Starting around the 59 minute mark, the pastor says,
I heard arguments like this a lot growing up. "You need to take the Bible in context" is how I usually heard it, and there was never any need to have discussions like this if there wasn't some serious logical or ethical confusion. This discussion took place after reading about Yahweh's many murders and massacres and whatnot. Always, when God acted like a jerk, or humans got credit for unethical behavior, somebody would say "You have to take it in context."
There are a few problems with the argument from context.
Really, that's the crux of it. No god worth worshipping would leave it up to us to interpret so many layers of context. A worship-worthy god would just tell us. Gods who can't take "context" into account aren't worthy of praise.
The argument from context should always be a red flag: it always attempts to justify bad behavior or incompetence. I can't think of any other purpose for the technique.
So we're driving more, and that's ultimately what's causing the accidents. Distracted driving is certainly a problem, but the fact that we're driving more than we have before is what correlates with vehicle deaths. Here a visualization of the data from the article.
What does this mean for me? Nothing, really. What it means is that I don't need to feel so bad if I change songs on my phone while it's playing through the Bluetooth speakers in the car. If I behave in a safe manner, my distracted driving on my phone should cause an equivalent amount of distraction as eating a breakfast sandwich while driving.
The other thing I take from this is that I'm not the only person who's spending too much time in the car. I often feel some guilt about the amount of time I spend driving; however, it appears I'm not alone in my iniquity.
Bart Ehrman's blog is a subscriber service that I'd love to subscribe to. Rarely does he post an article without having it behind a paywall. I don't know if he just forgot to make the digital fold for this one, but I appreciated this complete reflection from the fellow. He calls it, "The Religion of a Sixteen-Year-Old." Ehrman writes,
I've considered this myself, but never as clearly as Ehrman does here. I can't think of anything about me that hasn't changed since when I was 16., My music taste has changed; my tolerance has changed; my hobbies and occupations have changed.
And I'm very glad that my attitude towards religion has changed since then.
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