Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two Things

Firstly, I wanted to share Qualiasoup's newest video, entitled "The Burden of Proof."  It's just as awesome as the rest of his series and I highly recommend it.

Secondly, I wanted to offer a suggestion for another A&P style class.  Something like an anti-apologetics class, or a biblical criticism class would be awesome.  Something so openly critical to Christianity might not fly, and it's really not Dr. Oliver's style anyway, but what a wild ride it would be.  You know, something like where you trot out every silly argument made by apologists and then shoot it down with all the standard rebuttals.  It would be heavy on the New Atheists writings, of course.  Just a thought.

Anyway, here's the video:


  1. Good video! But the absence of punctuation in Hemant's post ("Who has the burden of proof") implies an Abbott & Costello confusion: "Who? What? I Don't Know, I'm asking you..." But I'm just being silly, I know who's Who.

    You're right, anti-apologetics isn't quite my style. I could stretch for it, though. Possibly a co-taught class with our new Religious Studies specialist: she'd propose, I'd (we'd) try to dispose... then she'd probably say why the disposition was irrelevant, and I'd (we'd) counter? I'll ask her. Good suggestion!

  2. A quick & interesting reply from Professor Gray-Hildenbrand, responding to David's suggestion for an Atheism & Apologetics course, and to mine that it might be approached collaboratively. She's taking "apologetics" in a broadly-cultural & legal sense here, not in terms of doctrine or scripture. That might actually be a more interesting approach.

    "This all sounds fabulous!!!! I cannot wait to hear more about this course, and I am always up for collaboration!

    I hope this student ends up in my classes :)

    I am not a biblical scholar, but I am extremely interested in legal and political conflicts between atheist groups and religious groups in the United States. In my classes and my work I focus on the nonreligious and religious worldviews that inform the sides of the debates, legal precedent, and historical context. So, we may be approaching the material differently, which, I think, would make for a really rich and engaging course.

    It is a little crazy that you sent this email today. I am giving a talk in a few hours on a recent controversy. I am not sure you have heard about it. The Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers has filed suit demanding the removal of two crosses erected on a mountainside at Camp Pendleton in San Diego.


  3. Argh, I'm never going to get out of school if all these compelling courses keep popping up ;-)

  4. Man, I'm leaving too early, that sounds awesome.

    1. Also, adding to this comment because I just read the article about the controversy in Camp Pendleton. Camp Pendleton (on the far far northern end, in Camp San Mateo) was where I was stationed during my years with the Marine Corps infantry. I have actually been to these crosses, hiked past them many times, and chatted with Marines about them.

      Speaking from this personal experience, I can say anecdotally that if anyone in my unit considered it a religious/christian site, they never once mentioned it. And I don't think, when it comes to the losses we took during deployment, any of them (openly at least) cared not even the littlest damn bit what religion you were, as long as you were respectful.

    2. That is encouraging, for sure. But I suspect the reason that no one commented on the crosses is because the overwhelming majority of those people are Christian. Belief is ubiquitous, almost as thick as the air we breathe. Why would anyone comment on something that they implicitly approved of, something that was as common to them as their own reflection in the mirror? The fact that there is an outcry now that somebody *has* spoken out proves that the reason those crosses are there is explicitly religious. The cross is a religious symbol, displayed for a religious purpose, placed there by people who approve of using the cross to convey the primacy of a specific religious practice.

  5. Jamie, I'd love to hear more of your experience & reflections on being a nontheist Muslim/Marine, if you ever feel inclined to expand on this... and on the general peculiarity of your situation. There can't be many like you, or in fact anyone in a position to tell your particular story. Anyway, thanks for all your positive contributions to our course. Listening to you throughout the semester has definitely raised my consciousness. How are we going to replace you in 2014? (Consider that your standing invitation to come back and visit the class.)

    1. Unfortunately Professor, I'm not in a position to tell that story either. During my time in the Marine Corps, I was nominally Christian. Which is to say, I reported as Christian, but I didn't pray, attend any services, or ever give God any thought at all.

      Of course, growing up, I had often heard it said that you can't really be Christian (in the conservative fundamentalist sense, which is how I was raised) in the armed services, and that rings true of my experience. In general, the Marine Infantry are a rowdy bunch full of contradictions. But when it came to religion, your religion was the Corps. I'm sure it varies from chaplain to chaplain, but while our chaplain was openly and stridently protestant Christian he seemed equally happy to administer a Catholic Ash Wednesday service or a Jewish pass-over as he was anything else. And Marines generally either didn't participate in any religious services/offerings at all, or participated in them all. Sometimes as a handy way to get out of grueling work (if only for an hour or two), or sometimes as a way to grasp at any sense of real rest and relief in the midst of a dirty job.

      In boot camp, they offered services for practically every single religion you could imagine locating in America (even a Wiccan/Pagan weekly ritual, complete with knives and candles, as well as what I vaguely understood to be some sort of atheist 'feel-good' thinking/conversation hour) and basically every single person went to /something/.

      And that really sums it up, in my personal experience over four years in the Infantry, the Marine Corps was overwhelmingly and quite obviously Christian, but scrupulously honored any and all faiths imaginable (and no faiths) with the "don't give a shit" attitude of people for whom there are only two inviolate laws: The Mission must succeed, and the Troops must be Cared for. The most common reminder you got over and over again on any subject was: Mission accomplishment first, Troop Welfare second, nothing else really matters.

  6. I am all-in for the Atheism and Apologetics class!

    With the exponential rise of non-belief, Professor Gray-Hildenbrand's cultural/legal approach would be interesting. Crosses on public property and school prayer lawsuits are in the news every day--and the secularists are winning. Christian privilege and religious bullying is being challenged at every turn.

    That being said, I think David's idea about debunking all the current religious arguments would be fun. Bible contradictions...get out of town.