Atheists Know More About Religion Than Religious People Do

Atheists may not believe religious teachings, but they are quite informed about religion. In Pew Research Center’s 2019 religious knowledge survey, atheists were among the best-performing groups, answering an average of about 18 out of 32 fact-based questions correctly, while U.S. adults overall got an average of roughly 14 questions right. Atheists were at least as knowledgeable as Christians on Christianity-related questions – roughly eight-in-ten in both groups, for example, know that Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus – and they were also twice as likely as Americans overall to know that the U.S. Constitution says “no religious test” shall be necessary to hold public office.

Pew, 10 facts about atheists

That was just one of the ten facts about atheists that Pew listed in their updated article from 2015. None of the facts were surprising to me, even back in 2015 when I first ran across the article. Especially that one. In order to form an opinion about a religion, enough of an opinion to decide that you don’t want to be religious anymore, you have to study the subject pretty thoroughly.

I’ve studied every religion that I’ve run across in my 50+ years on this planet. None of them ended up being something that I wanted to devote my life to, much less any significant amount of my time. All of them ended up failing on some measure of value and relevance to life in the here and now. My last flirtation with religion was when I read the entire Book of Mormon in order to be able to argue knowledgeably with the Mormon missionaries who used to bicycle up to the house and lend a hand with projects we had going on while trying to convert us to their religion. This was back before the turn of the century, an event that both of them thought would spell the end of the world and bring on the second coming of Christ. The last time I spoke to them I said that I’d get back to them in 2001.

Anyone who has read both the Bible and the Book of Mormon that doesn’t have unanswered plagiarism questions isn’t paying attention to what they are reading. When I found myself still here on January 1, 2001, I contemplated looking those two guys up again and asking them what they thought about there not being an armageddon as was promised. Look, we’re all still here. Now what?

That sort of playful argumentation about emotionally charged subjects like religion have gotten me in trouble many times. You’d think I’d eventually learn to stop doing that, but I haven’t. It’s what lead me to state that Atheism is not a Belief System, a subject I document in this article.

RAnt(hony)-ings

The resultant arguments from that fiasco only firmed up my lack of belief in gods or the supernatural. I still marvel at how little proof most people require to believe even the craziest of things, religion just being one of those crazy things.

I take issue with several of the facts in the Pew article though. One of them was #3, Atheists make up a larger share of the population in many European countries than they do in the U.S. This was the motivation for me starting this article on the blog. The entire basis of the Pew article, limiting the findings to just those people who checked off the box atheist, is a major flaw in their article. There are even more significant numbers of people who are irreligious than there are actual atheists, not to mention the one/fifth of people who are so poorly informed as to identify as atheist and still avow to have a belief in god or gods.

The larger, more important, group are the people who are simply irreligious. People who say that they have no religion. That number in the United States is still less than half (39%) but represents a percentage of the population that can swing issues that are basically religious in nature (subjects like abortion) in surprising directions. If you use that number instead of the number that claim atheism, you have majorities of the population of most of Europe, with Australia ranking in the top ten countries in the world for numbers of irreligiousness.

List of Countries by Irreligion

The portion of humanity who don’t think religion is important enough to even have one is very large, and it is growing. Growing by leaps and bounds as the evangelicals in the United States and across the world attempt to alter governments to suit their religious beliefs. Nothing turns people off of a subject faster than having that subject forced on them when they don’t think it is important.

Hat/Tip to the Richard Dawkins Foundation and a Facebook friend who shall remain nameless unless he says I can use his name.

Tis the Season

As I’m contemplating the impending holiday season, the final cutscene from the Battle For Azeroth ending raid springs to mind.

World of WarcraftAzshara’s Eternal Palace – Raid Finale Cinematic (Spoilers) – Jul 9, 2019

Why is that? Well, since the Old Gods are returning in the upcoming Shadowlands expansion for World of Warcraft, I’m thinking that maybe a Lovecraft Christmas is in order. Something like this tree from 2011 that made the rounds on Facebook in 2012.

We could even create a soundtrack for this season from the various songs inspired by Lovecraft’s fantasy writing that appear on various Blue Oyster Cult albums, some of these songs penned by fantasy and science fiction writer Michael Moorcock. Here’s one from a recent album with an appropriate name and theme.

Blue Oyster Cult: The Old Gods Return

Southern Heritage

And so, this morning we're back to this white washed bullshit about the Confederate flag representing Southern "…

Posted by Jim Wright on Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Confederates won. It is time we admitted that. when their assassin shot Abraham Lincoln, putting Southerner Andrew Johnson in the White House, he promptly re-admitted the Southern states and bribed his way out of impeachment and removal from office. After the loss of Lincoln’s leadership, and decades of attempting to integrate former slaves into the former Confederate states, the government in Washington threw up its hands and left the states to the will of the Southern whites who were busy destroying their own states in order to see that the black man did not rule over them, as a majority of a population should expect to rule, or at least govern.

Imagine what it would have been like to have evaded a hundred years of civil unrest by simply ensuring that the majority of the population of the Southern states were given the tools to govern properly? If former slaves had been given the 20 acres and a mule that they had been promised? But they weren’t, and we have inherited those generations of injustice, with those same White Nationalists that put us in this predicament demanding that we allow their president to become king so that he can secure the future of the White race for them.

It is time we finally defeated these tired old ideas and put them in the grave where they should have gone a hundred and fifty years ago. If we don’t, then the Confederates well and truly have won.

Facebook

More Facebook Fail

I’m going through my notifications on Facebook. A tedious task that I frequently just hit Mark All as Read in order to complete it quickly, and then I go on to the next thing on my todo list. Today there was a video notification for Robert Reich being live in amongst everything else, and it was recent, so I figured I could click on it and at least catch the end of the video. Let’s see what the link brings up when I paste it here.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/142474049098533/posts/?notif_id=1574188482955442&notif_t=notify_me_page&ref=notif
Robert Reich was live.

Well, that’s interesting. The pasted link renders out as plain text even though WordPress recognizes it as a Facebook link and gives me the default warning Embedded content from facebook.com can’t be previewed in the editor while I’m in the editor. Robert Reich leaves his videos on Facebook, so I can go to the video later using the link and have it come up as the the video I wanted to see. This is the video:

Posted by Robert Reich on Thursday, November 21, 2019
Robert Reich was live. (that is what Facebook titles these. All of them)

Robert Reich talking with Solana Rice about the fifth Democratic convention, how the slate is shaping up for the future and what the Democratic party needs to do to address the concerns of minorities into the future. A conversation that I wanted to hear but couldn’t when I first saw the notification because when I clicked on the link, I got this video instead:

This swimmer got surrounded by three Killer Whales which she misjudged them for dolphins ????Credit: storyful

Posted by Ben Phillips on Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Facebook

A over-dramatized video of a swimmer being investigated by killer whales (Orcas) complete with music designed to hype the terror and suspense. Will she get eaten? Won’t she? The answer is no, she won’t get eaten. Wild Orcas don’t attack people except by accident. There was one link in the comments that pointed to a story on a site named Orcazine (that spells quality journalism. A site name that excludes all other kinds of stories other than stories about Orcas. Are any of them true? You can’t know without further research) a story that purport to document one of the rare instances of an Orca mistaking a human for prey. This is an even rarer occurrence than a shark attack, which happens so rarely that you stand a better chance of being struck by lightning than you do of being attacked by a shark. So, Orca attack? Not high on the list of things to worry about.

If you want to talk about Orcas killing someone the facts are not hard to find. A trainer at Seaworld died because one of the Orcas attacked her. It can happen. Orcas are carnivores. Orcas that have been mistreated by humans over and over again, kept in cages all their lives, etcetera, can become violent. It doesn’t mean that the swimmer was in any real danger in the hyper-dramatic bullshit video.

My beef here is, the two videos have nothing to do with each other, and wouldn’t have anything to do with each other unless an Orca appeared on stage at the fifth Democratic debate and ate one of the other candidates. Now, that video might have been worth watching.

Facebook video fail. Just because I click on a link that Facebook says is a video, it doesn’t mean that any video Facebook wants to serve up to me will be something I will find interesting. When I click on a notification, I expect to see the thing the notification says is there wherever you send me, Facebook. If I don’t, I’m liable to get angry and tell a pod of Orcas that seals live at your home address. You wouldn’t want that.

Facebook Video

Just another reason I don’t spend much time on Facebook and will not be writing or sharing much of anything original on Facebook in the future. I hate Facebook. The only reason I’m still on it is because of the rest of you people being there. Two billion of you. It’s the biggest social gathering in the world, and it’s also the most dysfunctional. Makes my family experience growing up look like Leave it to Beaver by comparison. At least none of the family murdered anyone else in the family and hid the corpses in the backyard. Can’t say that about Facebook.

We are safe from Facebook taking over the world only because they are so incompetent at being able to figure out what we want to see and do. If they ever figure that out, we’re all fucked.

President Pence? Unlikely

So, if impeachment IS a coup as Republicans say it is, well, then the primary suspect behind this illegal power grab wouldn’t be Nancy Pelosi or Adam Schiff or Hillary Clinton.

No. It would be the guy who ends up in power. That’s how coups work.

You want to call it a coup? Maybe wonder where the fuck Mike Pence has gotten to lately.

Stonekettle Station

Because Pence is implicated in Trump’s crimes, he can’t serve either. I’ve heard that scenario run down on Today, Explained, The Nine Impeachment Scenarios

Continue reading “President Pence? Unlikely”

OK Boomer

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, sky is sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, monopoly
I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you

Ten Years After

I ran across the retort OK Boomer in a podcast once. I’ve since forgotten which one it was. I’d never heard it applied to anyone until Jim confessed to his cardinal sin on Facebook. It fits perfectly. Sadly, it fits all too well when describing our current state of affairs and the despicable hand-waving that the I’ve got mine, get yours set engages in almost daily. Hand-waving designed to deflect any attachment of fault to their ill-gotten gains. I’ve done the best that I can to make the world a better place over my lifetime, and that time ain’t over yet. It ain’t over for the Boomers as a group, either. All they have to do is stand up and be the best people they can be, rather than allow the narcissists and their defenders to be the voice of their generation. If we leave it up to the millennials to fix our shit, we deserve to be disrespected with the phrase OK Boomer.

Ten Years After – I’d Love to Change the World

You want respect from the next generation? Well, then you should have left the planet in better shape than you found it. Simple as that. And we didn’t.

Stonekettle Station

I, of course, was accosted with OK Boomer as a response to this. Too bad I’m not a Boomer.

Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z Explained

Generational cohorts are defined (loosely) by birth year as the article goes into in depth. One might think that because my birth year is before 1964 that I would be considered a boomer. The Wife, who was born a few months after me, identifies as a boomer. I’m not a Boomer in any sense of the term other than birth year. I am Generation X. Solidly Generation X.

How is that? Like so many things boomers (and other average humans) believe, generational cohorts is just another thing that they have wrong, if they think that what makes up a generation is absolutely defined by the year of birth. The reason why you can’t set years and dates to separate generations is because the influences that make up the generation vary from household to household and from town to farm to city. I was the child of parents born after the start of World War II. My parents were born during the war, making them both too young to be boomers but too old to be counted as part of the Greatest Generation. I was the elder of a large family, all younger than me, so their influences were largely my influences.

The Wife was the only child of parents who fought in World War II. Her parents were of the Greatest Generation. She is a Boomer in every sense of the word, in every way the Boomer cohort is measured. Her parents stayed married, my parents divorced. Etcetera, etc, etc. You can go down the list. Everything aside from year of birth makes me a member of Generation X. I really don’t like Boomers, aside from the Wife and other RL friends. Too many self-important assholes in that group.

…aside from which, I own an electric car, I compost and recycle, and I’ve been recycling since the 70’s. I’m poor and I admit it. The OK Boomer retort does not apply to me. But thanks for thinking of me anyway.

Bad Food

All my life I’ve been preached at by people concerned with my well-being. People full of ideas about how I could eat better for less if I just spend more time shopping, cooking, eating.

If I had a nickel…

Better food is more expensive food here in the US, and time that isn’t promised to someone else is something that the poor have very little of, and I am one of their vast numbers. It feels like this has always been reality. For all of my life, it has been.

Fast food is the cheapest food. That is why fast food businesses are successful. They provide food that is ready when you need it, and they provide it at a price that isn’t too high for the hungry person to afford. I could go to Taco Bell and eat lunch for less than four bucks back in the day, back when I sold my time to other people in exchange for continued existence. Two bean burritos and a taco, with a cup of unsweetened iced tea if I wanted to splurge.

Making the food myself I’d have to shop for the raw materials. A stack of tortillas was a dollar, the beans were a dollar, the cheese was a couple of dollars; and if I spiced the food properly we’re talking more than the prepared food would have been, and I’d still have to prepare it. Hours I didn’t have spent preparing the beans and then turning them into refried beans. Plus I’d have more food than I could eat by myself, so I would have to freeze it for later.

All of that preparation would have had to be done in a kitchen that was more than ten miles away, which is where home was, then frozen in a freezer that was similarly located at a distance. Or I could spend four bucks and eat the food prepared by Taco Bell. I could spend more to get a hamburger at Fran’s or Dan’s, but then I’d be eating the dreaded red meat, and that would have been even worse for my health.

This is why Americans are fat. We are fat because french fries are a buck and are available on every road in the US if you just pull off and hit the drive through. A sack of potatoes is $4 and you still have to have the fryer and the oil to make the Pommes Frites yourself. A hamburger can still be gotten from Whataburger for $4. Eight buns and a pound of hamburger will cost you more than that, without even getting into what you top the hamburger with. You just can’t beat the prices at fast food restaurants. I’ve tried, many times. It can’t be done. Not here.

Don’t get me started talking about green groceries. I love salads, but the only place I can get them cheap is Dairy Queen. If I buy the vegetables at the grocery store I’ll spend twice as much for more food, food that will go bad before I can eat all of it. Again, I’ve tried this many times. You have to buy more food at the store, you have to prepare the food yourself, you have to eat it or preserve it to eat later, or it spoils. Versus just driving through the DQ and getting a grilled chicken salad hold the cheese and bacon and spending $6. This is the problem.

Time pressure combined with cost constraints means you have to eat poorly, or not eat at all. I lived for months at a time on frozen leftovers when I was a working stiff. Leftovers brought frozen from home and thawed in the nuker in the office at lunchtime. I know how to cut corners. But sitting alone in your cubicle eating leftover thanksgiving turkey and rice gets old after a few months, and you start to want to get out and eat with your co-workers. They, if they are smart, don’t have children. Children are too expensive to have unless you are wealthy. They have more money than you, and they probably still eat poorly because that is what it is like to have to go out and find food in the food deserts that most downtown business areas are. You eat fast food, even if you have money. You just pay more for it at more respectable places than Taco Bell, but it is still assembly-line food made quickly for the massive downtown lunch crowds.

Now that I’m disabled, not beholden to someone else for my survival beyond counting on the continued existence of the US government (fingers crossed) I have the time to cook for myself, while still not having above poverty finances to afford better food. Being cooped up at home means I eat better now than I ever have previously in my life, and that is because I simply don’t bring food into the house that isn’t what I should be eating, and I dole out what I bring in over long periods that hopefully end before the food spoils. Using the chest freezer we specifically bought to preserve extra portions in, as often as possible to extend the shelf-life of prepared foods. That is what the luxury of not owing my time to someone else provides. Food that is slightly better than food bought at a counter prepared by someone else.


Here’s an example of what I mean by food being more expensive to fix for yourself than it is to buy at a fast food restaurant. This is one of the more reasonable markets near my home. The dreaded Walmart (Editor’s note. Yes, this paragraph has been extensively modified. This change makes the point better) Many places in the US are food deserts, no food available other than fast food. I’ll take a Walmart if that is all there is to shop at; and in many, many places, that is all that there is. That isn’t all there is in my neighborhood, but I won’t sully the other markets names with mentioning them in an article titled bad food. Walmart has no reputation to lose, so they will get picked on here.

This illustration will drive the point home.

Walmart

Thirteen dollars and change, just for the produce. Chicken breasts aren’t available on the website, other than canned. Canned wouldn’t be good enough. Not for purists. I’d have to get fresh chicken breasts in person, buying at least six of them, and freeze them for later. Five dollars a pound. A block of goat’s cheese will run about seven dollars. A bottle of balsamic vinaigrette is about four dollars. If your objection to my buying bottled vinaigrette is to tell me I should be making my own dressing, and you feel the need to tell me about it, I will stalk you in response. Tread carefully. All told I would spend upwards of thirty bucks just to make two salads. Then you have to go back out for more greens, which will spoil in three days.

…Then remember that I can get a salad, pretty much like that one, at DQ for $6. I have the goat cheese and dressing, so I’m golden. Fast food is cheaper. Fast food is easier. Fast food is why Americans are fat.

Based on comments to an article in a private Facebook group.

Less OHM, more Real People

I just noticed a few days ago that Facebook had stopped prompting me that a real life friend had posted something I might want to look at. I figured the friend had stopped posting to Facebook, like so many other people with accounts have done. Turns out that they’re just as active as they ever have been, but Facebook doesn’t deem our relationship worth preserving. I’ve added them to the “see first” list. I’ll probably have to do that for other real life friends and their stuff. Real life friends take a back seat to the scandal of the moment here in the web 2.0. I really couldn’t care less about political scandals these days. Someone let me know when they finally get around to #ImpeachTrump would you? Until that point it’s just so much more BS that I don’t need to pay attention to.

This is an old argument between Facebook and me.

I am seriously beginning to despise Facebook. Once again, notifications I have asked for have been removed from my…

Posted by R. Anthony Steele on Thursday, October 2, 2014

Facebook.