2 Cold 2 Takes

One of the biggest structural problems with social media is that attention, any attention, is a boost. You can’t interact with stuff you disagree with without extending its reach. This does 2 things: it creates filter bubbles (when people only interact with stuff they consider agreeable) and it boosts extremist content (when people interact with stuff they consider egregious). Thus the hot take.

I’m constantly surprised by how unskeptical most people are. We tend to unduly trust information we perceive as coming from our own tribe (family, ideology, religion, politics, whatever). But identity politics shouldn’t drive our search for truth, nor should we just throw our hands up in the air and decide to believe whatever we feel like.

We have the entire corpus of human knowledge at our fingertips. There’s no excuse to believe nonsense.

Trying to put religion on the level of science or vice versa does religion no favours. It’s a desperate and obvious ploy, and we both know it’s a ploy.

Science has a method it can point to for how it arrives at conclusions. Yes, that method is human and flawed, and yes, it has a spotty history and probably a spotty future. However it has a method, and that method can produce measurable results. You are, after all, using the internet right now, so don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Religion on the other hand (and I’m using the word “religion” here very broadly) has no such method. As much as you would like there to be one, there isn’t.

Fundamentalists have tried extremely hard to make “just read the Bible, it’s 100% true” that method, but that hasn’t really worked out very well, and if you actually read the Bible, you might find that difficult to swallow.

We forget the prophetic critique far to easily.

I Cor 13 for example, is the prophetic critique reformulated and expanded by Paul, the same thing you find in Hosea 6, Isaiah 11, Amos 5, Micah 6, Psalms 40 & 51, etc.

Jesus does this all the time, critiquing the religious leaders of his time, calling them whitewashed tombs and so forth.

Observing the *forms* of religion isn’t the *point* of religion. That’s not to say that the forms aren’t important, but that they are signs pointing to a larger experiential reality. Or as CS Lewis would say, the deeper magic.

The religion of the sign (eg religiosity) is meaningless and ultimately perverse. You can do all the stuff, fight all the battles, whittle theology down to a fine point, but still get it all wrong. You can agree to all the right propositions and still be a fantastic asshole.

Ideology is fantasy. It’s a proposition about how the world should be.

It’s shockingly easy to hold that fantasy with a sort of religious fervour, and forget that the ideology itself is not the end.

One of the reasons I’m suspicious of ideology is those who hold it tend to place the ideology above the humans it’s supposed to serve. It’s a way of inventing masters when none are needed. It stops you from seeing the real damage your ideology causes to real people.

When we talk about toxic masculinity, this is, at least in some respects, what we mean.

One persistent mistake I see is folks not understanding how two things that come from some other thing are related, but do not come from eachother.

For instance, English and German are related languages, because they come from some parent language. English does not come from German, and German does not come from English.

In the same way, creationists will often say something along the lines of “well if humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” which is equally as silly, for exactly the same reason. If English evolved from German, why is there still German?

If I was born to cousin, why is there still cousin? Unless you’re from Alabama or something, you weren’t. You share grandparents. This isn’t a very difficult concept but I see people making this mistake all the time.

Along the same lines I think we need to teach set theory in grade schools. Subsets and supersets and intersections are very, very simple concepts (we’ve all seen a Venn diagram) yet somehow when it comes to applying these things in real life, we often fall down.

While we’re talking about cognitive distortions, what about the left-handedness fallacy? See, it turns out that when we stop beating people for being left-handed, left-handedness increases. In removing a suppressive effect, we naturally expect numbers to increase, not because the natural share of the population is growing, or because of some enculturation effect, but because the share was suppressed before and now is not.

In these cases you expect the share of the population to reach some kind of natural equilibrium.

The same sort of thing happens with incidences of cancers of various kinds. The suppressive effect in this case is lifespan; cancer is overwhelmingly (our perception notwithstanding) a disease of old age. As we’ve extended lifespans, we’ve removed the suppressive effect of people dying younger. This allows more cancers to express later in life.

I’d argue the same thing is happening with non-binary gender identities, though there’s not a huge amount of data on this (yet), so take this with a grain of salt, especially since we know that gender and sexuality are often encultured (look at Roman sexual mores vs Victorian sexual mores for a good example; they’re entirely different). But since we’re gradually removing the suppressive effect of viewing gender as a binary, folks are gravitating out those binaries.

We may find that we end up with some sort of natural equilibrium here as well. But there may be an enculturation effect as well, since I don’t think that gender is necessarily as biologically determined as handedness. I could be wrong.

R. J. Rushdoony may be the most dangerous and damaging Christian theologian since Augustine. The fruits of that theological strand are rank.

Pro-life Christians are, generally, actually just pro-birth. This a particularly evil way of operating. If you care about the lives children (and not just unborn children), you must care for them from the cradle to the grave. It is not enough to advocate for them until birth and then wash your hands of them. This is profoundly cruel, to mothers, father, and children all.

It’s an incredibly easy position to take, especially in the middle class west. But it is not a position of integrity, where the moral centre of your position is integrated well into your advocacy. As Barnhart says:

The unborn are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don’t resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don’t ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don’t need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don’t bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus, but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

It’s Easter. Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

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