Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Geek Proves Atheist Wrong

This afternoon, I received an email from Jeffrey Czerniak. I promptly wrote him a reply. Both emails are reprinted below. First Jeffrey's email in blockquotes and italics, then my reply in just blockquotes (to help differentiate between emails). If you haven't already read my previous blog entry, Museum of Geeks, I suggest you do so before reading this post or either email.

Well, let me start out by saying that I really like your blog, and I didn't mean to make it sound like I don't. I linked to you back when you were just starting out (see http://geekable.com/blog/2005/04/26/charge.html), and I read your first couple of entries with great interest. I liked the way you framed belief in the afterlife as a devaluation of earthly life.

Thus, I was saddened to see that you make me sound like a douche on your website. "Museum of Idiots" is the title of a They Might Be Giants song, and it was meant to refer to idiots like Rudolph. I did not read the entry I linked to, but it was because I was laughing so hard at the title, I didn't think the article could top it in terms of entertainment value.

So yeah, I like your blog, my post was not meant to be taken ironically (for once), and I hope you can at least post this email so I can have my say.

P.S. I've detailed my rationale before for not having comments on Geekable.com. In short, I hope that people will comment on my blogposts; I just don't want to pay the bandwidth charges to host their opinions. That's why I have trackbacks, so that people can write their own blogposts and link back to mine.

P.P.S. Another reason I don't have comments is that I don't want to be sued. See the following websites for a disturbing trend:



Now for my reply:

Hey Jeffrey!

Thank you for replying to me so quickly. Let me give you a little bit of a story. I’ll try to make it quick.

I found your blog linked to mine through technocrati. When I first read your post, it seemed crystal clear to me that you were making fun of my blog. I also acquired the immediate *hunch* that you didn’t actually READ my blog. I was going to ignore your post but then I got an idea that I could use it on my blog to make a point about evidence and conclusions by 1) questioning whether you made a judgment on my blog by only reading the title, and 2) if I got a reply from you, I thought I could use it as "evidence" that would either confirm or correct my guesses about your post.

Well, halfway through composing my blog post, I started to second-guess my first analysis of your post. I re-read your post and thought that maybe you weren’t making fun of me but were complimenting me. After all, you DO have Jesus' General linked from your blog page :) But the title of your blog post "Museum of Idiots" made me think that there was like a 75-80% chance you were insulting my blog. I thought you might have been a religious liberal and didn’t take kindly to my blog content, politics aside. I figured that a compliment was a long shot (I did had a "They Might Be Giants" CD in the past, I never looked at the case and am unfamiliar with actual song titles; I only know the songs by their number on the CD so I didn’t get understand your post title). So halfway through writing the blog entry I decided to admit that I wasn't sure and I wanted to suspend judgment until I got more evidence. I also decided to email you and see what you had to say. Now that I re-read my blog post, I realize there is an implied tone to the blog entry even though I thought I was suspending judgment and creating a good scenario/lesson about evidence.

I am going to make a new post tonight. I’m gonna post your email and say that I jumped a bit to conclusions, despite my proclamation of "reserving judgment." I am then of course going to make a point about evidence and perception and everything.

By the way, my comment about blogs not having comments was actually NOT directed at you (strange as it may seem) but was more directed at Paul Manata, Hashishan Prophet, and others who have wacky religious blogs that don’t allow comments. After recent posts by Manata regarding evolution and atheist philosopher Michael Martin, I got real steamed that he didn’t have comments on his blog anymore (and deleted the comments I had previously posted).

Sorry for making you sound like a douche. I do hope that you understand that the post you made was a little vague as to whether you were making a compliment or an insult, and that I did ponder at some length as to its true intentions. Expect a new post on my blog about this within a couple hours. Feel free to post on my comments as well and tell me what you think, even if it’s about your dissatisfaction with my post. The only comments I delete are spam :)

Aaron Kinney

I said it in my email and I'll say it again now. Jeffrey, I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions, which I did do to a large degree, even though I claimed that I would reserve judgment until I got more evidence. It is quite obvious in the tone of my previous post that I was leaning towards the wrong conclusion, that I treated Jeffrey harshly, and that I did it based on insufficient evidence.

Look at that, everyone. Even atheists that claim to be rational and impartial can come to incorrect conclusions. I am definitely no exception. Since man has been able to think, he has thought wrong about things. We used to think the Earth was flat. We used to think that everything in the universe revolved around our planet. We used to think that women determined the gender of offspring. And unfortunately, most of us still think that an immaterial afterlife, usually governed by an immaterial God, exists! These afterlife and God beliefs come from a time when we believed all these silly things about astronomy and offspring.

It's time for theists, pro-afterlifers, and other superstitious people to accept the evidence and admit that they are wrong. The only way anyone can improve their knowledge about anything is to admit that evidence trumps faith or preconception, even if it’s their own faith or preconception. Some of us are able to swallow our pride, admit that we thought wrong, and learn from our mistakes. I was able to back when I lost my faith, and I'm able to now when Jeffrey shows me that I had the wrong idea about him.

If God or Jesus or Ganesh or some other deity reveals itself to me, I will again admit I was wrong. But there's the rub: I'm asking for evidence, and it's all about faith to them.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Aaron Kinney said...

Two minutes after I post my blog entry, I get spammed. Jesus! Do I have to put a word verification feature in here? I really dont want to...

MJ said...

I put word verification in, but I'm considering taking it out... considering...

Anyway, interesting blog, Aaron. I don't encounter too many "activist" atheists. I mean, I'm an atheist but I don't even frame it like that. I just purpose to be "not religious." But I'm cool with people who are religious -- that, I think, is the biggest difference between our approaches. If others want to devalue their lives in favor of an afterlife (I do agree with you on that point, 99% wholeheartedly), as long as they aren't stepping on my toes than it's fine.

I just have a problem with certain religious political leaders devaluing atheists as first-class American citizens (ahem, Jr). yyuuuuck! If I were an activist then it would be against stuff like that, not other religious people who just do their thing and leave it at that.

Have a great day!

DUB said...

I still stand by my definition of "geek."

This of course doesn't imply that I dislike said geek's site.

Just shift the weight of "doucheness" onto me, for my harsh critique of geeks.

Aaron Kinney said...

We were all a bit harsh Dub. Which is fine. The important part about about incorrect preconceptions is to admit when you had them, and then learn from it. Thats what atheists have done, thats what scientists do, and thats what religious nutjobs NEED to start doing.