Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Regal Standard is Not a High Standard

The 2012 Global Atheist Convention is done and dusted, and you know what? All that affirmation has made me hungry for conflict. The muslim protesters this afternoon weren't really to my taste (though I had a polite chat), so fortunately on the way out a little girl handed me a copy of The Regal Standard - a clever ploy to get my attention while circumventing my wrath.

Luckily I was able to find the publication's website. From the site:

"The Regal Standard was designed as a response to the second global atheist convention which is to be held in Melbourne. The atheist convention seeks to deny God, blame Christians for many evils in the world and discourage people from the faith. The Regal Standard acknowledges and honours God, proclaims the many great things he has done through his followers, and encourages people to follow God. The media will not be sympathetic to Christians. We need to produce our own."
In their leading article, a former atheist named Anthony Flew trotted out the age old monkey-typewriter fallacy.

I sent them:

"Dear Sir,

In your article 'I Was Wrong', starting on page 1 of The Regal Standard, you focus on an argument by Professor Anthony Flew about monkeys typing a shakespearean sonnet.

'For the whole 488 letters the chances are 1 in 26^488... The bottom line... It's never going to happen'

Isn't that the same as, say, lining up 488 playing cards, or any 488 arbitrary objects, and declaring their specific combination improbable?

By publishing this argument, you implicitly endorse it.

Looking forward to your reply.

A fellow seeker of truth,

I ended up leaving the paper on the train. Hopefully someone else gets a laugh out of it, especially the article on such unfulfilled biblical prophecies as "there will be a war in the middle east". Good news guys! I think it already happened (several times even).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Someone Is Wrong on the Internet

I'm tired of affirmation. Sure, watching The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and attending atheist conventions is great - I'm right, they're wrong; I'm smart, they're stupid. Feels good. Even my Facebook feed is in on it, algorithmically exposing me to those updates least likely to make me feel anything other than a sort of tribal satiation.

But now I'm sick of it. I want to be challenged, want to argue with people with different ideas, or even just be exposed to those ideas. When I see a bold declaration of God's healing powers in my feed now, it's like meeting an attractive female with similar interests. I don't want to miss my opportunity to make a connection, to talk. I flirt a little, turn on the charm, try and keep the conversation going for as long as I can, knowing it will eventually devolve into nothing after I manage to say the wrong thing.

Clay Johnson in The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption talks at length about our need to escape from the cycle of affirmation. Our mental health and our political system depend on it. I value my christian facebook connections more than my other connections for this reason. They are the ones who challenge me. But I seem to lack the ability to keep them around.

Another two christian friends jumped ship today, and I managed to piss off another New Age friend. Isn't there some way we can be friends and still actively disagree? I try so very, very hard to consider every sentence I utter, and deliver them in the least offensive possible way. Of course, I could just avoid those subjects which may be controversial. Not everyone is as keen to have someone suggest they are wrong as I am. But I can hold out for hope.

How about you? Are you able to have satisfying conversations with people you disagree with? Do you have to be careful about how you do it? Let me know in the comments.