Showing posts from 2019

How evangelical culture and porn warped my idea of male sex drive

A lot of men my age (I'm 40) get on some kind of sex-boosting pill. Snake oil supplements promising to improve your manliness quotient by 4000% are a dime a dozen. Testosterone replacement clinics are popping up all over the place (which I actually think is a good thing, but not necessarily for sex). At my work, there are basically two types of commercials on the radio: car dealerships promising easy credit approval, and male-enhancing clinics or supplements. Here's the thing about "erectile dysfunction": it's a made-up syndrome used to sell pills. There's no medical criteria for ED; essentially, a man just goes to his doctor and says he's not getting hard when he wants or expects to, or he's not staying hard as long as he wants or expects to, or he's not ejaculating as soon as he wants or too soon or not as often or not at all. Essentially, ED means "I'm not performing the way I expect to be." But where are those expectations comin

Randal Rauser on religious consensus

It's been a really long time since I wrote a post on one of Randal Rauser's arguments. But as luck would have it, it's a lazy Saturday, I was perusing his blog, and I found a recent post of his in which he links to the following video: Do watch the video before continuing, because I'm not going to explain what it's about. Instead, I want to systematically address his arguments as well as discuss his response to me on his blog. Just a heads-up on my own position: I think that the lack of a consensus is a serious problem for Christianity, for several reasons. First, it stands to reason that if holding true belief is integral to one's salvation, and if God loves all his human creations and wants them to be saved, it would be woefully counterproductive for God to allow humans to stumble into a vast number of schisms that often result from disagreements over basic doctrinal beliefs. Sure, some Christians disagree about which day of the week the Sabbath is supp

What conservatives think liberals believe vs what liberals actually believe

You can't throw a rock at conservative media right now without hitting some kind of fear-mongering about socialism . You see, the liberals are coming, and they're all socialists who want to tax you into oblivion, create dependency on the government, and make the government as large and intrusive as possible. Conservatives paint themselves as business-friendly by advocating for deregulation, tax cuts, fiscal responsibility, and privatization. It doesn't take much effort to look at the history of conservative governance to see that this idealism doesn't play out. "Deregulation" is essentially code for "erosion of consumer protections to favor the profiteering of multinational corporations." The advocates of "fiscal responsibility" don't seem to mind that Trump is running a nearly $1 trillion deficit. I could go on, and on. But I want to talk about the fear-mongering over liberalism, because it's not new. The notion that liberals c

Is the media liberally biased?

As long as I can remember in my 40 years on Earth, conservatives have claimed that the "mainstream media" is liberally biased and cannot be trusted to be objective. This has spawned a sprawling conservative media ecosystem - Daily Wire, Daily Caller, Brietbart, Fox News, Pluralist, The Federalist, etc. - which views itself as a bulwark against the onslaught of liberal media. There's a really big problem with that claim, though - there's really not much evidence for it outside of peoples' own perception. You probably would not be surprised to learn that most of what is viewed as "biased" depends strongly on one's political leanings. Worse, it's essentially an unfalsifiable claim. During the 2016 elections, Snopes was widely derided as a "liberal" news source despite the fact that it's simply a fact-checking website that cites all of its sources in every article. Conservatives even think Wikipedia is liberally biased , and I'm

Ben Shapiro and the culture of conservative privilege

I remember reading the quote in which Ben Shapiro said "People who are poor their entire lives are just bad with money." Then there was the classic that if sea levels rose and started flooding homes in coastal cities, people could just "sell their houses and move" because apparently Aquaman is in the homeowners market (thanks, hbomberguy ). And then recently was the comment that if a job isn't paying a living wage, you should just go get a higher paying job - like higher incomes are something you just go out and get, like milk and cheese or a MAGA hat. Shaprio called working for less than a living wage " a you problem ." The stupidity and willful ignorance of such comments should be so obvious as to not even require discussion. And yet, here we are. And tempting though it may be to pin Shaprio as uniquely obtuse, these comments show a trend that's prevalent in right-wing media: the struggles of the poor and working class are consistently framed as

Ballsy idea of the day: "the mind" does not exist

I have this crazy, far-out idea: we should stop talking about "the mind" as though it is some kind of object or thing that has to be "explained." The problem is that conceptualizing mental phenomena as "the mind" presupposes that there are properties distinct from the physical brain - i.e., mental properties - that need to be explained in some way. Here's an alternative. Instead of characterizing mental processes as "the mind," we can use the empirically-responsible term: cognition . Cognition is the process  of brain activity. It includes perception, language, metaphor, memory, and decision-making. Why is this little semantic change a big deal? Because cognition is an empirical, scientific term. It accounts for all the above phenomena - all the things we associate with conscious experience. They are all derived from neurological activity in the brain. With this conceptual reframing, we can do away with a few superfluous assumptions tha

Some follow-up reflections on William Lane Craig's response to my post

After writing my post yesterday, I was thinking about some of the things Dr. Craig said in his response to me. The more I thought about them, the more I started to think I may have been a little too kind in my response. Craig employed a few tactics that I frankly find to be disingenuous - the kind of thing someone might do if they want to 'win' on rhetoric without substantively addressing the arguments at hand. 1. His own comments were vague, and he leveraged that ambiguity to assert that his point was "obvious." Craig's basic argument was that in principle , no physical object can exhibit "intentionality." But that's not what he said; instead, he mentioned simple objects like chairs and rocks, and then referred to the human brain - the single most complex biological object known to exist - as a "gob of tissue." I'm not sure why he would take that course if the complexity of physical objects wasn't part of his argument. He cou

Life after divorce part 2: it gets better

I went through a strange phase after my divorce. Immediately after, it was a sense of relief. I wasn't coming home every day to a stressful and emotionally draining situation. I was in a great new house, I had my dogs, and I'm fortunate to have a lot of wonderful, supportive friends. In time, around when I wrote my previous post, I was starting to feel, for lack of a better term, homesick. My new house felt kind of foreign, like I was taking an extended stay at a hotel. I began to miss all the little things my wife and I used to do - pizza or cheap Chinese food nights, fancy brunch or dinner dates (she and I are both foodies), walks with the dogs, trips to the park, traveling, hiking, etc. etc. I resolved to just keep taking care of myself. Spending time with good friends and family, training hard, playing guitar, reading, etc. etc. And it's funny, but good things come. The pain of loss subsides. I'm still grieving, and I expect I will be for a while, but it's f

Let's talk about William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith Podcast about my post

ICYMI: Five years ago (ish) I wrote a blog post in which I argued that William Lane Craig's argument from intentionality was.... well, to put it kindly, not a very good argument. I have no idea how that particular one - given all the posts I wrote about WL Craig - ended up being a thing in his podcast. But here we are, five years later! At first, I thought, I don't really do this stuff anymore . Generally, I don't enjoy the old sparring-with-theists thing like I used to. I still drop comments on Randal Rauser's blog from time to time, but I consciously avoid getting sucked into protracted, fruitless debates. BUT... Let's be honest, it's kind of cool that William Lane Craig himself took the time to comb through one of my blog posts. After all, I'm just Some Dude on the Internet, and he is a Bigtime Famous Apologist. He commands a good sized audience, and I don't think I should pass on the opportunity to reply to critiques Craig made of my own argum

Five years later, William Lane Craig responds to one of my posts for some reason

Remember when I used to blog about Christian theologian and apologist William Lane Craig on a regular basis? Yeah, that's been a while. Well, turns out he responded to one of my posts on the latest episode of the Reasonable Faith Podcast . The post in question is from five years ago, around the time when WLC debated Alex Rosenberg. Here's my original post: There was a time when I would have gotten really excited that WLC himself was responding to one of my posts. That time was, oh I don't know, five years ago. These days it'd be difficult for me to care less about the endless mire of convoluted arguments for a god's existence, particularly from a person who believes that what he calls the "internal witness of the Holy Spirit" supersedes arguments and evidence. Anyway, listen to the podcast. It should not surprise you that WLC thinks I am wrong. Am I? I'll let you dec

Reflections on life after divorce

I miss my wife. I thought that as time went on, it would get easier. Maybe in some respects, it has. I don't have the emotional valleys, the breakdowns, that I once did. But there's a general sense of sadness that I feel of no longer being able to "do life" with my best friend. I miss her humor, her intellect, her ambition, her tenderness. I miss our conversations over all manner of subjects from serious to silly, and I miss the things we'd do together - shopping dates, brunch or cocktail dates, walks, or just spending time together with our favorite shows. While I'm fortunate to have two of our three dogs, I miss seeing the happiness they brought her. In some respects, I feel like it might have been easier to move on were it not for the way things ended. That fateful weekend I moved out, she said she loved me, held my hand tightly, tearfully told me she didn't want me to move, kissed me tenderly, and said, "I have a feeling this isn't the end