Unapologetics: Countering Apologetics With Sarcasm & Humor

of 18

Omnipresence: God is Omnipresent & Everywhere, Even in the Bathroom

Cuter but confused blonde teenager with tiny computer
Clicknique/E+/Getty Images

Bad Ideas Should be Laughed At, Not Just Refuted with More Arguments

Unapologetics are sarcastic, critical posters that take popular theological beliefs and turn them on their heads to point out just how absurd and ridiculous they are. Maybe it feels more intellectual to counter them with sophisticated arguments, but sometimes an image and short phrase are sufficient to unmask the pretensions behind them. Sometimes, it's more productive to point and laugh at silly arguments than to take them seriously and offer detailed refutations or counter-arguments. There is a time for philosophical, atheological arguments and there is a time for laughter, humor, and sarcasm.

Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? According to Christian theology, you are — Christians believe their god is omnipresent, which means that their god is in all places at all times. So wherever you are and whatever you are doing, God is right there, watching you. Yesterday, when you were picking your nose? God was watching you. Last week, when you were... well, God was watching you then, too. Why is God such a voyeur? Isn't such stalking behavior a little creepy?

The idea of an omnipresence of immanence stands in stark contrast to the idea of God being "transcendent," or completely separate from and independent of the universe. The more God’s transcendence is emphasized, the less God’s immanence can be understood and vice-versa. The need for both qualities can be seen in the other characteristics normally attributed to God. If God is infinite, then God must exist everywhere — including within us and within the universe. On the other hand, if God is perfect beyond all experience and understanding, then God must also be transcendent.

Because both of these qualities follow readily from other qualities, it would be very difficult to abandon either without also needing to abandon or at least seriously modify many other common attributes of God. Some Christian theologians and philosophers have been willing to make such a move, but most have not — and the result is a continuation of both of these attributes, constantly in tension. Outside of Christianity, there is less tension. Judaism conceives of a god that acts in history but isn't completely omnipresent or completely transcendent. For Muslims, God is completely transcendent and "other," lacking any human qualities whatsoever.

I'm not sure that a god which is always watching, peeking, and spying on what you are doing or thinking is very healthy from a psychological perspective. Almost no one likes the idea of constant government surveillance, so why approve of constant divine surveillance? Even accepting Christian premises about their god creating the universe and humanity, this hardly justifies denying human beings even a modicum of personal space and privacy. Insofar as the Christian god is omnipresent, the Christian god is also a stalker, a peeping Tom, and a lech.

of 18

Zombie Jesus: Only the Living Dead Can Give You Eternal Life

If Jesus died and was buried, but rose from the grave after three days, does that mean Jesus was an Original Zombie (OZ)? New Testament accounts describe him as having wounds you could stick your hands in, something that you can't normally do to living people, but dead people also aren't walking around. There are no stories about Jesus eating people's brains, but we can hardly expect his followers to draw attention to such behavior. Communion is about eating Jesus, not the other way around.

If Jesus is supposed to be able to give you eternal life, I suppose becoming one of the living dead is one way of achieving it. It's certainly no less believable than any of traditional explanations given by Christians for how and why Jesus will secure an eternal future for you. Granted, spending eternity as a zombie hunting for brains doesn't sound very appealing, but then again none of the descriptions of heaven sound all that appealing either. At least brain-hunting is a goal-oriented activity; in heaven, there isn't anything to do at all.

I'm obviously not the first to draw attention to the connection between Jesus and zombies. There was once a very good webcomic about "Zombie Jesus," but it didn't last very long, and now the site itself has disappeared entirely, and we can't even read the archives. I wish I had saved the comic when they were still available — it wasn't the best webcomic around, but it was interesting and clever at times. At least, that's the way I remember it.

Have you given your brains to Zombie Jesus?

of 18

Pascal's Wager: Because Reducing Eternity to a Crapshoot Is so Inspiring

Christian apologists who like to use Pascal's Wager will argue that we shouldn't gamble on our future, but if that's the case then why do they use gambling as a way of looking at what they are offering? Pascal's Wager is founded on the idea of betting — rather than an argument designed to show that one's religion or theism are true or even likely true, the argument is designed to convince you that you are better off betting one way rather than another. Even in this, it fails.

Given the premises of Christian theology, it shouldn't be necessary to "bet" that it's safer to become a Christian. The truth and reality of Christianity should not only be plain, but it should be so obvious that there should be no reason to belong to any other religion, never mind reject religion and theism entirely. Somehow, though, most people in the world manage to find better reasons to remain part of the dominant religions of their cultures and atheists fail to find any good reasons to accept any theistic systems at all.

So it would seem that Pascal's Wager may have a point that we need to "bet" if no option is unambiguously correct, but accepting that premise means denying some of the fundamentals of Christianity itself. Therefore, if we take the Wager and do any betting, the odds against traditional, orthodox Christianity suddenly become very long in comparison to other alternatives — and, contrary to what Pascal's Wager suggests, there are far more options than just the two it tries to offer.

In this, Pascal's Wager is like a dishonest casino boss telling you that you're only allowed to bet on two numbers on the roulette wheel, or that you're only allowed one way of making a seven in craps. Would you gamble your money in such a casino? Granted, the casino always wins in the long run, but you're a fool if you bet your money in a casino that goes out of its way to rig the games to such a degree and it's equally foolish to accept the terms and conditions that Christian apologists insist upon when they offer Pascal's, Wager.

of 18

Social Darwinism: Darwinism is an Atheist Lie, Except in Politics

A common argument used by conservative Christians against evolutionary theory is the idea that it reduces humanity to mere physical beings and morality to "survival of the fittest." They don't often mention Social Darwinism by name, yet these same conservative Christians often support politics similar Social Darwinism in their effects, if not their intent. How can Christians be so horrified by the alleged moral and social consequences of "Darwinism" while supporting Social Darwinism?

Evolutionary theory describes how species adapt and change in the context of constant struggle and competition. Social Darwinists seek to apply something like this to the structure and nature of society, arguing that those who "fail" in competition with others for resources should just be left to their fate so that the "winners" can move on. There's too much wrong with Social Darwinism to detail here — not just morally, but also in its understanding and application of evolutionary theory itself. Charles Darwin himself was not a Social Darwinist and there is nothing about ​the evolutionary theory which requires or even strongly suggests that Social Darwinism might be a good idea.

What matters most is the fact that even if they don't mention it by name, such negative moral and social consequences are an important part of conservative Christians' objections to teaching evolutionary theory. If Social Darwinism were a necessary consequence of teaching evolutionary theory, they'd have a point — though even in such a situation, that wouldn't be evidence that evolutionary theory is wrong. Should we really refrain from teaching the truth if the truth leads to unpleasant consequences?

Aside from that, if conservative Christians really are sincere in their objections to Social Darwinism, why are they so vociferous in their defense of economic and political policies which have similar effects: the poor keep being left behind while the rich amass ever more power. True opponents of Social Darwinism should be strong supporters of social safety nets and welfare policies which ensure that everyone can have a minimally decent standard of living, basic health care, good education, etc. In short, strong opponents to Social Darwinism should tend to prefer the policies of liberal Democrats over conservative Republicans.

of 18

Chosen People: God Liked My Ancient Illiterate Ancestors Better Than Yours

Which requires a bigger ego, believing that you personally have been singled out and chosen by God for some special purpose, or believing that your entire ethnic group (race, family, whatever) has been singled out by God for some special purpose? Believing you're chosen by God may be personally fulfilling, but believing you belong to an entire group that's chosen by God means you're part of a larger, divinely-ordained movement and group. Either way, you are raised up out of the masses.

Unfortunately, there are always others out there who try to make the same claim: there are other individuals who insist that God has actually chosen them for some other task and there are groups of people who insist that they are God's chosen people. Just how many "chosen people" can there be? Given how mutually incompatible their claims are, they can't all be chosen. Even worse, their basis for claiming to be chosen often rests on ancient documents created by nomads who had barely a fraction of the knowledge of the world we have now. Why are such claims treated as credible, except that they tell people what they want to hear?

People who think they are somehow specially chosen by God sometimes exhibit a contempt for the standards of behavior expected from the non-chosen people. This isn't hard to understand because if you really have been singled out by God for a special job, then why should you let the mundane rules that apply to others create barriers for you? God has a job or goal for you and you shouldn't let anything stand in your way, should you?

Although every ill caused by religion can also be caused by secular ideologies, this is one of the factors which separates religion from secular ideologies and makes the harm they cause much worse. No secular ideology encourages the belief that one should be committed to a task that is approved of or desired by gods. This is a problem because it makes a compromise and change far more difficult — if you sincerely believe in a god and sincerely believe that it has given you a job, then compromise means compromising on this god's wishes and that's just not acceptable. Even the most dogmatic secular ideology allows a bit more room for compromise and none encourage the idea that any gods have singled you out as special.

of 18

Patriarchy: Having a Penis Means a Male God Wants You in Charge of Women

Apologists for patriarchy and male privilege are among the most ridiculous and absurd defenders of any sort of unjust privilege that you can find. When you get right down to it, all their arguments ultimately reduce to waving around their genitalia and insisting that because their genitals hang down and outside their bodies, they have divinely-sanctioned authority to be leaders and deciders in the family, in politics, in business, and in all of ​a society. So a penis is a badge of leadership.

The actual arguments they attempt to use lack any intellectual, philosophical, or moral credibility and this is because it's all just a smoke screen to distract attention from the fact that their position reduces to "because God gave me a penis." They don't notice this, though, because they are just so engrossed with their penis and/or are upset that others (mostly women, but also some men) refuse to acknowledge the leadership-granting qualities of the penis. Take one of their arguments and insert "Look, a penis!" and "God gave me a penis!" every so often to get a more accurate picture of what's really going on.

To be fair, not every defender of patriarchy and male privilege relies upon the importance of God giving some people a penis. Some defenses of patriarchy are secular and try to argue that male superiority is natural — as if the evolution of a penis was necessarily accompanied by the evolution of natural leadership skills. Secular patriarchy is no more rational than religious patriarchy, but it's a bit less honest because it refuses to acknowledge its own religious origins. It's like attempts to secularize homophobia as if the religious arguments could be secularized simply by replacing "God" with "nature."

I suppose that if we really thought that genitalia could be a sign of superiority, then wouldn't it be more rational to think that women were the superior ones? After all, their reproductive organs are inside their bodies where they are better protected. Shouldn't our leaders bit a little less vulnerable to a swift kick to the crotch? If God designed one sex to be superior, wouldn't it be the second one — the one created after all the flaws in the original model were revealed? "Whoops, those dangly bits are risky, let's try that again..."

of 18

Cannibalism: I'd Like My God Medium Rare, Please. With a Nice Chianti.

Even suggesting a connection between cannibalism and Christian mass may sound extreme to believers, but just as the crucifixion of Jesus has a lot in common with older religious practices of human sacrifice, so too does the idea of — wine and bread becoming the blood and body of Jesus — have a lot in common with older religious practices of cannibalism. Crucifixion and mass are easier to understand if one understands the religious background of human sacrifice and cannibalism.

The concept of sacrificing something important to the gods or spirits was common in religions around the world. Usually, the more important the god or the request, the more important the sacrifice had to be. The most important thing which could be sacrificed was, usually, a human being. Typically, the person was sacrificed for the sake of the welfare of the entire community — to appease an angry god who had cursed the tribe, to plea for better crops, to ensure success in a coming battle, etc.

Ritual sacrifices, often connected to festivals surrounding a dying and resurrecting god, were important in Phoenician religion. Sacrifices of vegetable and animals were most common, but human sacrifices occurred in times of difficulty. The preferred human sacrifice was an innocent child who, as a vicarious victim, represented the most extreme act of propitiation possible and was probably intended to guarantee the future of the entire community.

For the Aztecs, consuming human flesh was a type of communion, establishing a sacred relationship between humans and gods. Because the people who were ritually sacrificed were "impersonators" of the gods, the Aztecs saw themselves as not consuming another human being, but as consuming a god. Such a role was regarded as an honorable and even coveted death — it had about the same status as a heroic death in battle. The sacrificial victim received a penitential liberation from this plane of existence, released to a new life with the gods.

Traditional Christian communion shares many of attitudes and beliefs with older forms of human sacrifice and cannibalism but without all the blood and fuss. The idea of eating a god has been abstracted out and removed from the consumption of a real being and transformed into eating an allegedly "transformed" bit of bread. Few Christians would recognize the connections between communion and cannibalism, but perhaps if they did they would think a bit harder about what they are doing.

of 18

Chastity vs. Sexuality: Grant me Chastity and Continence, But Not Yet!

In a sense, chastity could be treated as an indicator of just how obsessed a religion is with sex. The more a religion emphasizes chastity, the more they are effectively talking about and referencing sexuality. It's not just the religion that's obsessed with sex, but the adherents as well. After all, if the people themselves weren't constantly going "too far" in sexual behavior, religious leaders wouldn't have to constantly keep telling them to stop. You can't have chastity without sex.

Christian theology is filled with men who are obsessed with sex and women. Augustine himself, the author of the above quote, wrote a great deal about the need for chastity and sexual abstinence and this was arguably because he himself was obsessed with sex. He thought constantly about lust and then hated himself for impure thoughts then went back to lust in a constant cycle. He had a concubine he abandoned when his mother arranged a society marriage for him — but his fiancee was under age and he couldn't wait two years, so he entered a relationship with another woman. That supposedly led to his above prayer.

We can see similar dynamics in other aspects of Christianity, though they tend to be connected to sex. Christians who are most vociferous in their denunciations of homosexuality seem to be obsessed with gay sex — and too often, it turns out they happen to be gay as well, but just in denial. Some Christians are vociferous in their denunciations of pornography and sex toys, but don't you wonder what they have stashed in the back of the closet at home? Wouldn't you like to see what pops up in their browser history? Well, maybe not.

of 18

Crusades & Faith-Based Violence: Kill them all; for God knows His Own

There seems to be an inverse relationship between how vociferous believers are in claiming that their religion is peaceful and how peaceful their religion actually is. Perhaps a truly peaceful religion is obviously peaceful and doesn't raise a lot of red flags, so adherents don't need to go out of their way to say how peaceful they are. Violent religions, though, have a PR problem with outsiders so adherents need to go out of their way to explain how peaceful their beliefs actually are.

Christians can be especially critical of how Muslims keep insisting that Islam is a "religion of peace" despite the extensive world-wide violence being committed by Muslims in the name of Islam. Such Christians seem to want to insist that theirs is the real "religion of peace" because Jesus is the "prince of peace." Historically, though, Christians don't really have much advantage over others — Christians have had little trouble engaging in religious war against others.

The quote above, "Kill them all; for God knows His own" is usually rephrased as "Kill them all, God will sort them out." It was attributed by Caesar of Heisterbach, a papal representative, to Arnaud-Amaury, Abbot of Citeaux and military leader of the Cathar Crusade, during the abbot's sack of Beziers in southern France. Around 10,000 residents were massacred because the city had been officially allied with the Cathars, a Christian heresy. This means that this infamous statement was made by a Christian leader in the process of slaughtering Christians whose beliefs differed from the officially-approved beliefs.

of 18

Word of God: Funny How Humans are Always Doing the Talking

The "word of God" is an important and often-used concept with apologists. They have texts they claim contain the words of their god and they justify their ideas by insisting that they ultimately come from the words of their god. For some reason, though, we don't encounter any gods actually doing any writing or talking. It's always humans doing the writing and talking. Are they ventriloquists dummies? Is it just coincidence that their god wants and believes what they want and believe?

I doubt I could find another human being who believed all the same things I do. Perhaps there are a couple out of the billions on the planet, but it doesn't seem likely. The same is true for the rest of humanity — whatever they believe, they'd have trouble finding someone else who agreed with them on everything. Humans, though, are more like each other than they would be like any god. Granted, I'm pretty great, but even I'd be hard-pressed to describe myself as "god like."

So just how likely is it that someone will share all the same beliefs, attitudes, and prejudices as a god? Any god? I think I'd find a person claiming to present the words of a god to be a bit more credible if they admitted that their god wanted things which they themselves didn't want, but were reluctantly going along with on the assumption that this god knows better. There are obviously problems with such a position, but at least they wouldn't be giving the impression that they are simply using "god" as an absent authority figure to justify their beliefs without having to actually argue for them.

Wherever we look, people claiming to have the "Word of God" keep presenting words that reflect their own cultural, political, and social prejudices. A different "Word of God" for every cultural, political, and social context. What are the chances that this isn't just lots of different people who have beliefs that they can't or won't be able to support, but hope to give exaggerated authority to by attributing it all to a deity who isn't around to confirm or deny the allegations?

If a god did exist, it surely would have hired a better PR firm by this point.

of 18

Opiate of the Masses: First Taste is Free, Then You Have to Pay

When Karl Marx described religion as the "opiate of the masses," he was being far more sympathetic to religion than most realize. Marx didn't object to using opiates to relieve the pain of injury, he objected to relying solely on opiates in place of fixing the injury. According to Marx, religion blinds us to problems in society by giving us something pleasing to focus on. More negative and less sympathetic interpretations of this idea can still offer legitimate insight on religion, though.

For example, while using painkillers to deal with a physical injury makes sense, using an opiate to deal with emotional, psychological, or social problems doesn't typically make a lot of sense — but that's precisely what a lot of people are doing when they abuse addictive drugs. Religion is arguably closer to this latter form of drug use than it is to the former because the problems in society which religion masks have a lot to do with our emotional and psychological relationships.

Religion is also often "sold" by apologists for just such uses: they proclaim that if you are experiencing psychological or emotional difficulties, then what you really need to do is accept their "faith" in God. It's also common for Christian apologists to make a big deal about how Jesus is offering us a "free gift" of salvation, but if you look at the package more closely you'll find that "free" isn't really so "free" after all. You may not need to pay money, but you are expected to believe what Christian authorities tell you about how you must behave, what you are allowed to believe, how you should vote, and so forth. Drug dealers' offer of a "free" first sample doesn't end up being so free, either.

When a drug is physically addictive, it creates a craving that only the drug itself can best relieve, thus providing both a problem and its own cure. Religions often do something very similar by first proclaiming that we all have some sort of "problem" which only that religion can cure; once part of the religion, though, you may find that the religion's rules ensure that you never actually stop experiencing that problem, thus ensuring that you always need that religion — and thus also ensuring the continued power of religious authority figures, institutions, and traditions. This means that adherents keep paying and paying and paying all their lives while the dealers at the top reap all the rewards.

of 18

If Jesus Rises from His Tomb & Sees His Shadow, We Get Six More Weeks of Winter

There's an old joke about kids confusing the nature of Easter and Groundhog's Day, but these two holidays have far more in common than most probably realize. Easter may be Christianity's oldest holiday, but not much of the popular celebrations have anything to do with Christianity and most of the Christian aspects can be traced to more ancient pagan celebrations. Groundhog's Day, occurring a couple of months earlier is related to some of the same pagan cycles of life, death, and rebirth.

In northern climates, Easter comes around the time when winter is disappearing and it's time to plant new crops. This has linked Easter celebrations in northern Christian cultures with pagan rituals dealing with spring planting. We must remember, though that Easter comes from a Mediterranean culture where the vernal equinox is a time when the summer crops begin to sprout. This is why it has also always been a celebration of new life and a triumph of life over death.

Groundhog's Day has elements that also come from both northern and Mediterranean cultures, giving it a mixture that it similar to what we find in Easter. Romans celebrated around this time festivals of purification and fertility; northern pagans celebrated the day as a time when divination was easier. After Christians appropriated February 2nd, they made it a day of purification and cleansing that followed pagan traditions in Rome. Northern Christians also retained the idea that divination was easier on this day and that's the source of the belief that the groundhog can predict for us the future weather.

So both Groundhog's Day and Easter contain elements of shedding winter in anticipation of spring, warmer weather, and a rebirth of life. Both are thought to provide glimpses of the future, and especially a future of hope for life and prosperity. Both represent significant shifts in the yearly cycle, dates commemorated to remind us what we have come out of (winter, cold, sin) and what we are moving forward to (new crops, new life, Kingdom of God). They aren't the same holiday by any stretch of the imagination, of course, but I don't think that most Christians want to think of the extent to which even their most religious holidays remain deeply connected with ancient pagan celebrations.

of 18

Territoriality: Peeing on It Doesn't Make it Yours

Christians have claimed that Christmas, marriage, morality, and more are theirs to define and control. What unites these issues is an effort by conservative Christians to claim ownership over cultural or political institutions which should be open equally to all citizens. They don't want to be mere contributors to a larger whole, they want to be owners with a right to exclude others. This is basically and expression of tribalism and attempt to exercise territoriality, not unlike what dogs do.

Property represents power, so the distribution of property in society determines the distribution of power in that society. When property is held by only a few, then power is also exercised by a few and this is antidemocratic no matter what the formal structure of the political system is. When the ownership of property is widespread, power is also spread throughout society. This is not just true about physical property like real estate, but also political and cultural institutions "property" is most fundamentally about being having the authority to control a thing and exclude others from using that thing.

When more people are admitted as equals to institutions like marriage (or, to put it another way, when more people are allowed to claim "marriage" as their own), then cultural and political power is distributed more broadly through society. When institutions like marriage are limited to a privileged group, then that cultural and political power is restricted to them and concentrated in their hands as well. That's the point of concentrating property and wealth into fewer hands: limit the power to as few people as possible in order create a more strictly defined social hierarchy where a few can make decisions for many.

It is not legitimate for Christians to try to stake out something like Christmas for themselves alone, it is not legitimate for conservative religious believers to stake out marriage as something which they have the sole authority to define, and it's not legitimate for religious theists to stake out a political party for their own personal use. Believers who try to appropriate cultural and political institutions for themselves are acting like a puppy marking the corners of its new yard: they are engaging in territoriality by excluding "undesirables" and even defining themselves by the fact that those "undesirables" are not included.

In the end, though, all they end up really doing is peeing all over everything.

of 18

Commies: Hiding Under Our Beds and In Our Closets Since 1917

The extreme hostility towards atheists in America can be traced in part to two related factors: America's view of itself as a religious nation entrusted with a special mission from God and America's fight against communism in the Cold War. These two combined to portray atheists as a godless enemy, a fifth column either for Satan or for totalitarian communism. This remains true even today when there is no "commie menace" pointing nuclear weapons at America. A good enemy is hard to give up.

During the earliest years of the Cold War, there were few overtly religious arguments against communism. Not until the early 1950s did religious and political leaders realized how religious opposition to communism might become a stronger than political opposition. Arguing that communists as evil because of being godless, though, required transforming anti-communism into anti-godlessness, and this meant turning America even more against atheists, agnostics, liberal believers, and skeptics of various sorts. Religious doubters were transformed into not just an enemy of religious institutions, but of political institutions as well.

It's curious that Christians would insist that their religion is connected to capitalism. No longer are faith in Jesus and God sufficient to be a "good Christian"; now, one must also have faith in market capitalism and small government. Since so many of these Christians assume that anyone who disagrees with them on any one point must disagree with them in everything, it isn't surprising that some assume that an atheist or humanist must be a communist. This isn't helped by the fact that 20th-century communist governments been almost entirely atheistic in nature

This Cold War legacy continues to affect atheists in America today. It's not hard to still find Christians attacking atheism as essentially socialist or communist in nature, arguing that atheism should be rejected because socialism and communism are evil. One would almost think that the Cold War hadn't ended with an American victory and collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, though, anti-atheist bigots also have a need to associate atheists with whatever threat they see as the most serious one facing them. Instead of tarring atheists with the "commie" label, it's getting more common to see Christians claim that atheists are in league with Muslim extremists attacking the West. Muslims hiding under the bed doesn't make for as enduring an image as Communists hiding under the bed, though.

of 18

Teach the Controversy: Teach Kids All the Theories about Sex!

The complaints and arguments raised by conservative Christians about teaching evolution in public schools are uniformly false when applied to teaching evolution, but they are remarkably true when applied to sex education — or at least the abstinence-only education programs championed by... you guessed it, conservative Christians. Is it a sign of projection that they are guilty of doing to sex education what they claim about science education or just a sign of a lack of self-awareness?

Since teaching creationism directly is a lost cause, many conservative evangelicals have adopted a different tactic: "Teach the Controversy." According to this principle, students in public schools should not be taught evolution as "dogma" and should instead learn all of the scientific controversies and problems surrounding evolutionary theory. The fact that there is no "controversy" in the scientific community and that the only "controversy" is a product of creationists themselves doesn't matter.

Then, these same religious conservatives turn around and insist that abstinence-only education becomes "dogma" in sex-education classes. They don't merely want abstinence to be discussed and encouraged, they want it to be the only topic. Discussion about contraceptives or abortion is forbidden. They would be horrified if anyone tried to discuss "alternative" sexual orientations (homosexuality, bisexuality), practices (sex toys, S&M), or lifestyles (swinging, transvestism). They certainly don't teach alternative sex "theories" like the stork.

So "controversy" is relevant when it might be used as a wedge to introduce their own religious dogmas into public schools against science. Controversy is not relevant if it might lead to the introduction of anything which might challenge their religious dogmas where they have already gained a firm foothold and have driven out rivals. The deciding factor is therefore whether or not it furthers their interest in having secular public schools teach sectarian religious dogmas.

Perhaps the next time you encounter someone whining about "teaching the controversy" with respect to evolution, poke them a bit by agreeing if they will agree to "teach the controversy" (and variety) with respect to sexual orientation, sexual practices, and sexual lifestyles. Will they agree to broader and more explicit sex education for the sake of introducing a modified form of creationism in science classes? I doubt it, but won't it be fun to watch them sputter?

of 18

Christians: We Aren't Perfect, We're Just Better than You

Have you ever seen Christian bumper stickers that says something like "not perfect, just saved"? I suppose the owner imagines that this is an expression of humility for admitting that one isn't perfect, but the attempted humility fails because of the smug expression of superiority: "even if I'm not perfect, I'm still going to spend eternity in paradise while the rest of you losers will suffer an eternity of torment. So there!" Yet, it's atheists who are accused of being arrogant.

Some religious theists like to complain that atheists are increasingly arrogant towards religion and theism, but there is little conscious recognition of how arrogant religious theists themselves can be. This arrogance seems to stem from the belief that one is not only in possession of the Truth, but of a divinely provided Truth — these religious theists know the Truth and are convinced that part of their job is to help poor, deluded atheists find God's love for them.

Granted, everyone can be like this when they think they are right — even atheists — but there is a difference between simply thinking that you're right while others are mistaken and thinking that you possess an unmistakable, divinely provided truth such that others are willfully disobedient, in denial, or in league with Satan. Even the most arrogant possessor of a mundane truth about the natural world pales in comparison to a self-righteous religious believer convinced that they not only know the Will of God but that everyone else would as well if they were only equally good and righteous.

In the process of such thinking, religious theists develop a tendency to make all sorts of arrogant assumptions about atheists, what atheists think, why they are atheists, and how best to approach atheists. Instead of asking questions and considering that they have good reasons for disbelieving in gods, atheists are treated as objects for evangelization whose own perspectives are unworthy of being heard.

Some believers don't seem to give any thought to the concerns of others:; their way is The Only Way, and even people who do not accept it are necessarily ruled by it, whether they like it or not. If they don't think that they are, then it is simply because they fail to acknowledge the existence or the sovereignty of the One True God. It's amazing that religious theists can accuse atheists of being "arrogant" even while having tolerated far more extreme arrogance in their own ranks for decades — if not millennia.

of 18

Submission: The Husband is the Head of the Wife & That's the Way it is, Period

Must good Christian women be submissive to their husbands' leadership? Many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians certainly seem to think so. Christianity has not been very supportive of women's equality, historically speaking. Much of the time women have been denigrated and forced into a second-class status. This was true right from the earliest years of Christianity and has continued down through today with it being enshrined as a principle for the Southern Baptist Convention.

Demands that women "submit" to their husbands isn't just about men and women, though. Religious conservatives argue that the family, as the smallest social unit, is the foundation for society generally and their desire that women submit to men is representative of a broader agenda to get people to submit to higher authorities generally. Efforts to keep women "in their place" are thus merely part of a larger desire to keep everyone "in their place" through stricter power relationships.

Conservative evangelical Christians believe there exists a strict hierarchy between God and humans which must be replicated in the social and political spheres. Children must obey parents; wives must obey husbands; Christians must obey ministers; citizens must obey leaders. Men, of course, are in charge of it all and the Christian Right gets traction for these views by appealing to men's desire to have more power and control over what's happening in their lives. The Christian Right tells men that they must be in charge of their family, of their church, and of society in general.

The Christian Right is thus closely connected with conservative political forces which promote "masculine" politics (and war) over "feminine" submission, defeatism, and compromise. Many conservative evangelicals believe that problems in society stem from the chaos of too much freedom, too much license, and weakened expectations about one's social role. Women who voluntarily enter or remain in extremely patriarchal religious communities cite as one of their primary reasons the fact that their social and familial roles are clearly laid out, as are their expectations of husbands, children, and neighbors. Clarity of purpose, place, and direction mean a lot to some people.

of 18

Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Let He Who Can Accept This, Accept It

If it's not bizarre enough that traditional, religious patriarchy reduces to little more than "God gave me a penis, so God wants me in charge," there have been some who have argued that in order to find more favor with God, it's necessary to cut off some of those dangling bits. A eunuch still has their penis and thus retains their sign of divine favor, but castration removes the bits which make the penis more useful. So God prefers the penis, but God likes a useless penis even more.

Christianity was certainly not the first religion to create a place for castration. There is archaeological evidence pointing to religious castration going back as far as the 8th millennium BCE in Anatolia. The frequency of castration in early Christianity is disputed, but some early church leaders like Origen did treat it favorably because they believed that the above statement, attributed to Jesus in Matthew 19:12, meant that people who could accept castration should do so for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christian castration was a curious development because as old as religious castration may be, there was little or no precedence for it in Judaism. It was, instead, an inheritance from Roman religion and pagan antiquity, thus preserving in Christianity ancient, negative attitudes towards sex which were not so extreme in ancient Judaism. Making the penis a sign of superiority and leadership helped enshrine misogyny in Christianity; preferring an unused or useless penis helped enshrine fear and hatred of sex in Christianity.

The two are not unrelated because traditional Christian misogyny and patriarchy have been tightly bound to efforts to control the reproductive powers of women. Theologians have tried to portray men as the "active" agent in reproduction and women as the "passive" agent, but nothing could hide the fact that the male role in biological reproduction is short while the female role is much longer and thus much more active. Isn't curious that promoting castration means promoting the removal of bits which make the penis useful for reproduction and which produce male hormones, such that a eunuch is in some ways closer to a woman than to a man?