Sex

Okay, humans…

It’s one thing to assert the tired old canard that, because science can’t explain something, a god must be used to explain it.

It’s quite another to go on to claim that one particular patriarchal Hebrew sky god is responsible for the phenomenon in question.

And it’s still yet another thing to further assert that this invisible creative force actually gives a shit about where I put my penis.

I’ve yet to hear any theological explanation for this, other than “God said it, so there,” (which is the fastest way to completely lose any intellectual currency you may have). And yet even a cursory glimpse at human history shows a clear pattern. Religion, it seems, is obsessed with with the penis and vagina.

Sex is very simple. And awesome. A natural, zesty enterprise. So why is it that most of the Abrahamic religions seem to react to sex (particularly the homosexual variety) with such contempt?

Granted, the modernized factions have found a way to upgrade the Scriptures to fit with our current “secular” sexual moral constructs. Some branches of Christianity are accepting of homosexuality and extramarital sex. Some are okay with any kind of sex, so long as it’s done within the confines of holy matrimony. But there’s still a good number of religious followers who would contend that sex exists merely for procreation and should only be done inside a heterosexual marriage. No exceptions. And if you’re enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong.

Scratch that. Only if the woman is enjoying it, are you doing it wrong.

And it’s not enough for these people to decide to live that lifestyle of their own accord. It’s absolutely imperative to them that everyone be taught to live that particular lifestyle, and that governing bodies should exalt that world view as superior. Regardless of what biology, statistics, or medical science has to say about it.

That’s one thing that annoys me about some Christians, particularly those that lobby for “abstinence-only” sex ed in public schools.

Thing is, I’m totally a fan of arbitrary promises. An arbitrary promise proves, irrefutably, that we as human beings can make and live by our own rules, and that we can choose to give up any vices we decide to give up, be it of sex, substance, or habit.

So if you want to decide, on your own, to remain celibate until some arbitrary date–say, your wedding night–then fucking go for it.

But that’s exactly what it is. Arbitrary.

There is, in fact, no good reason to make such a random decision.

I’m sure everyone reading is already sagacious enough to be aware of the hard data concerning this issue, so I won’t delve any deeper into it outside of the basics. In short, not only are abstinence-only sex ed programs completely useless in curbing teen sexual activity, but abstinence in practice doesn’t make you any healthier, physically, nor does it make your relationship any healthier (or happier) than that of your premaritally-boning counterparts.

Supporters of abstinence-only sex ed usually pull out the usual slew of supposed advantages of abstinence. The most popular, and usually touted as the “best,” reason is the threat of teen pregnancy. Then comes the risk of STD infection. Both of these risks, however, are drastically lowered to the point of being entirely negligible, if teens are given a good education on the proper use of birth control.

“Oh, but there’s still a chance that condoms could fail and that birth control pills won’t work.” True. A very small chance. So small, that no reasonable person should see any cause for worry. If we’re going to accept this kind of reasoning, then abstinence shouldn’t be considered safe either, since there’s still the very small yet very real chance that you can catch the clap from a toilet seat or that you can be raped.

“Married couples who abstained until marriage feel closer, since they’ve only had each other. Hence, they’re happier.”

Anecdotal. Irrelevant. I could just as easily say that married couples who didn’t wait until marriage were able to find out whether or not they were sexually compatible before they decided to commit to each other, similar to how you don’t buy a car until you’ve taken it for a test drive to see if it gives you the ride you’re looking for. Hence, they’re happier.

Any way you slice it, there’s no good, objective reason to save oneself for marriage. Not to say that everyone should be taught to be promiscuous. In fact I’m saying the opposite.

I’m saying we should be allowed to make our own choices concerning sex, without certain people who claim that their imaginary friends told them that their way is the best way and the only way, and who are somehow exempt from having to provide solid evidence for this claim. If you feel like sexual abstinence is right for you, by all means, indulge yourself. Or… don’t indulge yourself, actually.

But, if I may put it bluntly, my dick is none of your business unless I make it your business (consensually, that is). Nor are anyone else’s private parts, for that matter.

Christine O’Donnell: a Politician Who Doesn’t Know Shit About the Constitution

Ahh, Christine O’Donnell. The next Sarah Palin. I have mixed feelings about her: namely that I kinda want to have sex with her, but I also kinda want to punch her in the face. I believe the term is called “hate-fuck”? If any of you more astute readers could enlighten me, that’d be great.

Anyway, fast forward to about the 2:37 mark to hear her actually ask, in total seriousness, where in the Constitution it says that church should be kept separate from state.

This can only mean one of three things.

  1. She really doesn’t know that the First Amendment declares that Congress (a governing body into which she is attempting to be elected) “shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
  2. She knows it’s there, but doesn’t understand “separation of church and state” as a shorthand way of expressing this sentiment.
  3. She’s merely quibbling about semantics (since those words literally don’t appear in the Constitution) because she doesn’t think the government should be separate from religion.

Neither of these scenarios make her not an idiot.

I’d totally still do her though.

Seriously…

I’d like to not be made to feel guilty when, after washing my hands in a public restroom, I reach for the paper towels rather than the electric blowing machine (which sounds dirty, but also sounds like a good idea, assuming a device of that nature doesn’t already exist).

Why? Because we, as a people, still make phone books.

In all seriousness, why do phone books still exist? Absolutely no one uses them.

In fact, if you happen to have a phone book in front of you, one of two things can be concluded with a high degree of certainty: either (a) you’re my grandfather, or (b) you’re using it to separate the stems from the seeds.

Anyone who requires the information commonly found within the pages of a phone book has probably already heard about this nifty little invention called the Internet, available on their computer, phone, PDA, iPod, or fancy Japanese toilet. And yet every so often, the fucking phone book fairy leaves a pile of useless words and phone numbers right in front of the door of my apartment building.

Don’t tell me we need to conserve paper and then go and do wasteful shit like that.

While we’re at it, don’t tell me we need to conserve paper at all. We don’t.

Maybe I haven’t stayed abreast of the latest developments in paper technology (perhaps my Google news alert for “new advancements in paper” is malfunctioning), but last I checked, paper comes from trees. Trees are a renewable resource. The coal or oil used to produce the electricity that runs the blowy machine is not.

It seems to me people think that every sheet of paper they use is coming from some 5,000-year-old tree from an Australian rainforest that was housing an entire family of chinchillas.

(Yes, I know what you’re saying now. “Marc, you moron. Chinchillas are indigenous to South America, not Australia.” I know that. Okay? I’m just illustrating the imbecility of these hypothetical people that I made up. Get off my back.)

The reality is, all of our paper comes from tree farms, which are sections of forest specifically grown for the purpose of harvesting wood pulp to make paper. When they cut down one part of this forest, they replant it and move onto another part, and on and on it goes.

Using more or less paper has no effect on this process, other than speeding up or slowing down the cycle.

Paper is also organic, poses ZERO significant environmental threats, bio-degrades quite nicely, and takes up little landfill space in proportion to its overall use, making it a veritable fucking planet-saver. The same cannot be said for the bi-products of electric generators.

So next time you use a public john, if given the choice, go with the paper towels. And answer any objections from self-important, misinformed hippies with a defiant middle finger. Or maybe hit them over the head with a tack hammer. Where does one procure a tack hammer anyway? There must be some establishment selling them.

Where’d I put that phone book…

“Free Will is Some Deep-Ass S#!*”

I remember a few conversations I had with some college friends, back when I was still a Christian, on Calvinism and predestination. For a long time, I actually considered myself a Calvinist.

One usually can’t discuss Calvinism without also talking about destiny and free will, as any Calvinist will tell you. It wasn’t long before one of those present, slightly drunk and high (it’s college), shook his head, sunk in his chair, and said, “Maaann… free will is some deep-ass shit.”

For those who don’t know, Calvinism is a perfectly legitimate theological approach to Christianity (one of many), founded by Jean Calvin in the 16th century. Long story short, most Calvinists believe that free will is merely an illusion; that God has already written the whole of human history from “the beginning to the end,” including who will be in heaven with him (known as “the elect”) and who will be in hell. We may feel like we have a choice in the matter, but God, being all-knowing, would not have been foolish enough to allow random human variables to fuck up his plan.

Think about it as a book. The author creates the characters and determines exactly what will happen to them. If the characters were real, they might think that they’re making their own choices and decisions, but really they’re making the very choice they were created to make.

This was a common analogy among Calvinists. Personally, I used to think of life as more like one of God’s impromptu jokes come alive.

Anyway, my point is, I’m not a Christian anymore. But, surprisingly, I still don’t believe in “free will.” Or at least, not in the way most people mean it.

This topic stems from a question someone asked me on facebook, which went a little something like this:

So marc, do you feel we have free will or we don’t? do you think we choose the paths that we are on, as in when i made a left instead of a right on that last light i ended up hitting a guy on the street that was neither his nor my fault? I want to know who controls these everyday tragedies and sucesses we go through daily. And when one has a burden in their heart who do they cry out to or where do they turn to? Who judges the man who tried to live his whole life as a man(or so he thought) and when he developed in his life further, realized he was a woman with a family and his wife leaves him, he confronts his inner feelings to want to live as a woman. What is the purpose of all of this in life, why aren’t we just robots that learn to live and love eachother without pain and hate or desires and wants that PEOPLE may say is not according to “God’s plan”. Where does all that lie?

It’s a good question. A damn good question.

Here’s the thing. I’m a man of science. And science deals with questions of the knowable or foreseeable truth. Take physics as an example. The universe happens to operate a certain way, and the science of physics represents our attempt to understand the way it operates.

For instance, an object in free fall will accelerate toward the ground at a rate of about 9.81 m/s^2. A lot of experimentation was involved in arriving at this answer. Furthermore, it’s repeatable. We can actually set up an experiment wherein we measure the distance from a ball to the ground and calculate how long it will take to hit the ground when we let it go. And the answer will be dead accurate. Every time.

If we know anything from physics (as well as the rest of science), it’s that if you’re given all the variables, you can always, always, always arrive at the right answer. So, theoretically, if we had knowledge of every single variable and every single premise, constant, and initial condition, we could successfully foresee the future. A math equation can only have one right answer.

The problem is, the number of variables is nothing short of infinite.

When you decide to make a left turn instead of a right, you think you’re doing so of your own accord (if you happen to drive a Honda Accord, that would be an intentional pun). But the reality is that you act according to an infinite number of contributing factors from your past, and everything leading up to the moment you were born as well.

It’s completely random, and yet it’s not. When all the variables are laid out, there’s really only one possible outcome.

So, to answer the question, no, I do not think free will really exists; that is, if we define “free will” as the idea that our choices determine the future. In the grand scheme of things, there’s only one “future” that will occur, and everything we decide to say or do has no effect on it.

For all intents and purposes though, we do have free will. Just because your past experiences, environmental conditions, and historical context are leading you to make one inevitable choice doesn’t make it not a “decision” in any useful sense of the word.

But don’t misunderstand me. Just because I think free will is an illusion doesn’t mean that I somehow believe that there’s an invisible man in space who’s decided how things are going to play out. Number one, because that conclusion doesn’t at all follow from this premise, and number two, because that conclusion makes far less sense than its atheistic alternatives.

2 + 2 = 4, not because someone designed it that way. 2 + 2 = 4 because… well, that’s just the way it is.

Insane Clown Posse Admits They’re a Christian Band

Such confusing news.

ICP have been going for 20 years, always wearing clown make-up, which looks slightly lumpy because it’s painted over their goatees. They’ve been banned from performing in various cities where juggalos have been implicated in murders and gang violence. ICP have a fearsome reputation, fostered by news reports showing teenagers in juggalo T-shirts arrested for stabbing strangers and lyrics like “Barrels in your mouth/bullets to your head/The back of your neck’s all over the shed/Boomshacka boom chop chop bang.”

All of which makes Violent J’s recent announcement really quite astonishing: Insane Clown Posse have this entire time secretly been evangelical Christians. They’ve only been pretending to be brutal and sadistic to trick their fans into believing in God. They released a song, Thy Unveiling, that spelt out the revelation beyond all doubt:

Fuck it, we got to tell.
All secrets will now be told
No more hidden messages
…Truth is we follow GOD!!!
We’ve always been behind him
The carnival is GOD
And may all juggalos find him
We’re not sorry if we tricked you.

The news shook the juggalo community to its core. While some fans claimed they’d actually had an inkling, having deciphered some of the hidden messages in several songs, others said they felt deeply betrayed and outraged: they’d been innocently enjoying all those songs about chopping people up and shooting women, and it was Christian rock?

The standard response will undoubtedly be, “ICP might say they’re Christians, but they’re not real Christians.”

As if there’s some sort of accreditation board that gets to declare who’s a real Christian and who isn’t. Or perhaps some official department of Christian certification, wherein an applicant is approved as a “real Christian,” once they meet certain criteria.

This is one problem I see very often in nearly every religious body, and indeed I’ve already touched upon it earlier. When your world view is based on a particular interpretation of some arbitrary book, how can you rationally defend one as “true,” over other interpretations?

Insane Clown Posse might not fit the standard Christian stereotype (except for the fact that they seem to hate science), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a Christian group. You have to have some sort of objective criteria if you want to be exclusive.

The Times, They Are A-Changing (do I need to send Bob Dylan a check for that?)

Alright, humans. It’s pretty obvious I haven’t been posting as often as has become commonplace. This has been due to several variables, but mostly because I’ve been busy. Trying to find a new job isn’t easy.

Excuses aside, I’ve decided to take Black Jeezus down a different path.

Here’s the breakdown. I’ve always done, I think, my best writing when I don’t care who I offend. Some of you might remember my response to the whole Don’t Be a Dick debate that was pervading the atheist blogosphere a while back. That argument still stands, and my opinion on the subject remains more-or-less unchanged.

I mention this because I’ve decided that, henceforth, I’m going to try to keep the unbridled rants to a minimum; even though I’ve received several keep-up-the-good-work e-mails and facebook comments, and even though my lack of beliefs remains as pure as it was when I first started up this blog.

The reason for this is pretty simple. I have a religious family. Blasphemy, to me, is a victimless crime. But it’s come to my attention that they take such comments personally, even though not a single post or subject has been directed at them. I may not give a flying fuck about how other people think of me, but I care about my parents.

This is not to say that Black Jeezus will be completely eradicated of ridicule and irreverence. Only that such posts will be fewer and further between. Many of you know that I come from a pastoral family; some have asked me if my atheism has had an effect on my relationship with them. I’m pleased to say that, so far, it hasn’t. I respect them, they respect me. Fortunately, my father isn’t the fire-and-brimstone, vote-yes-on-Prop-8, non-Christians-are-scum type of preacher that I’ve come to despise. He and I obviously disagree philosophically, but that’s about as far as the contention goes. I love my parents and still consider them positive role models, and they still love and support me.

Be that as it may, I am who I am. I think Christianity should, and indeed needs to be criticized. The difference is that I’m now going to try to make my posts more of an invitation for respectful discussion.

If my blogging has taught me anything, however, it’s that no matter how tame or respectful my criticisms of religion are, there will always be someone that takes offense. As Dan Dennett observed some time ago, it seems there is no “nice” way to ask, “Have you ever considered the possibility that these beliefs you hold so dear, are based on a complete lie?”

Yet, this is an important question. It is the question. And it must be answered. And these “sacred” beliefs must be poked, and prodded, and examined, and there are always going to be people that don’t like having their worldview disrupted by scrutiny. To these people, I say… tough. Religion has been getting a free ride for far too long, and if no one else is going to stand up to the people that threaten to take away my right to live free of other people’s dogma, then it’s got to be me. If you don’t like it, then avert your eyes.

To the rest of you, I expect you to hold me accountable. If you think my logic is flawed, say so. If you think I made an error, point it out. Because I put in a lot of time and energy to make sure my arguments are solid and your silence helps no one, religious and non-religious alike. But if you are going to say something, do your homework. Learn your logical fallacies. Avoid special pleading. And expect the things you say to be scrutinized as well.

Aside from that, nothing has changed. I still place all gods in the same epistemological category as fairies, ghosts, heaven, hell, astrology, Santa Claus, spirits, demons, leprechauns, Teletubbies, elves, goblins, centaurs, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, chi, angels, the lost city of Atlantis, the devil, wookies, body thetans, the Tooth Fairy, and Harry Potter. Which is to say, I do not and will not believe in any of these things, until someone (as in, a real, live human being) can show me good evidence that any one of them exists.

Acutally, Harry Potter might be real. Disregard that one.

Until then, I will remain a happy-go-lucky atheist and skeptic. A lover of science, reason, and Star Wars. And I’ll post some random thoughts here-and-there, whenever I feel led to mention or examine a particular event, person, or belief.

That is all.