Monday, June 26, 2006

Sidebar update, Raving Atheist

Okay, I've updated my sidebar, adding more recent posts, some old ones that should've been there all along, and making a new category for apologetics. I've also added an "apologetics and history" section, and rearranged my blog roll.

A word on the blog roll. My smaller section, which doesn't have a drop-down, represents blogs I try to read regularly. The larger pop-down section consists of 50-60 blogs that I think are decent blogs but which I don't have so much time to read. The first list changes, but once a blog is on, my tendency is to keep it at the very least on the second list.

I have, however, removed the Raving Atheist due to some recent events. I first became aware of the controversy through Daylight Atheism. First, some background.

As Daniel Morgan pointed out to me, I've come to his defense before. Also, when PZ Myers went after him for his opposition to abortion, I was silently thinking "Hey, a big tent is good," even if I thought RA's "life begins at conception" stance was irrational.

It started with Franc Tremblay posting a somewhat off e-mail from RA to the Atheist Mommy (not The Atheist Mama), but which she seemed to take in good stride, judging from the full conversation posted by RA. The weirdest part, though, was he finished his response to Tremblay by saying that, on behalf of one of his friends at a crisis pregnancy center, he would "never write another bad word about Jesus or Christianity on The Raving Atheist."

This got PZ Myers predicting a conversion to Christianity and Pandagon recommending it "so we can be rid of you." This got Daylight Atheism on the case, blasting RA for his closing statement, and Brian Flemming said:
I have no idea what's going on with RA. But it's damn interesting.

It may be some kind of a stunt, but that's okay -- I'm a sucker for stunts. As are you, if you read this blog.
Basically, I agree with Daylight. Declaring a religion to be free from criticism is stupid. It's the kind of stupidity we expect from mainstream culture, but a guy who calls himself the "Raving Atheist" and regularly bashes the God Squad (or used to) should know better.

Wait... did I say the weirdest thing was the end of his response to Tremblay? Scratch that. The weirdest thing is Sunday's post, in which he took predictions of conversion as accusations of conversion and said he would neither confirm nor deny those accusations. The only explanation is that he's either converted or is on the brink of conversion. I briefly thought he might be trying to do something clever, but no, from reading his post he clearly isn't in the right frame of mind for cleverness.

Blogosphere, meet the world's newest, nastiest Christian fundamentalist.

Oh, and a side note. In his most recent post, he said the following:
I have noticed that with few exceptions the blogs and books that pursue the themes of this one care very little to discuss the truth of the premises that drive them, or even to identity the premises themselves. Few of my critics have set forth a systematic exposition of their own atheological views. Most neither know nor care about natural or revealed theology or the difference between them. Those who rant and rage against theocracy, of the problem of religion in society, rarely address the truth of religion itself.
RA, if you have really converted to Christianity, I would like to say that I would be happy to address "the truth of religion itself" in a formal online debate with yourself. Topic: "Resolved that God does not exist."


Daniel said...

I would say that you won't have the pleasure of a debate, just as a prediction.

I agree with you on the pro-life/anti-choice bit: so long as people have some rational arguments (like that abortion causes unnecessary pain to a conscious creature, which is analogous to animal rights laws, etc), I don't immediately shit on them when I find myself disagreeing with them [as, say, Francois is well-known to do].

But this recent debacle is, simply put, all fucked up. I can't tell what this guy is up to, or why. I really dont think he's an Xian. I think he's just going through some kind of a crisis or something. We'll wait it out and see...

Another good blog bites the dust. How sad!

Daniel said...

I read almost all of Tremblay's stuff, and I think he expends more energy into arguing for an objective morality and revealing the moral bankruptcy of religions than all of us combined. I find almost everything he says reasonable.

That said, I see that his "tit-for-tat" strategy, as much as he professes to adhere to it, doesn't quite explain what has happened between himself and RA. A while back, they flung some shit at each other, over Objectivism...and we find out that Tremblay denies being an Objectivist [also claims to be "the only intelligent person left on this fucking planet."]. This is, of course, quite strange on a number of levels, seeing that Tremblay has authored an entire website and seminars on the topic of Objectivism.

Now, am I claiming that Tremblay lied? No. People could indeed pay for and develop volumes of content on what academics call a "fringe philosophy/ worldview" without actually subscribing to it. Hell, we do it all the time with Christianity, right? ;)

Point is, Tremblay subscribes to this game theory style of reciprocity in his dealings with others. Problem is, he's shown that his definition of "tit" is a bit skewed. It seems that Francois takes dissent or disagreement [even of the indirect variety, as with EA] as a personal insult or attack. He thus "reciprocates" in kind, with his typical "tat" using words like "fucking idiot".

I guess in summary, I would just say that disagreement is good, dissent is grand, and thin-skinned Canadian Objectivists-in-denial don't always see it that way.

Francois Tremblay said...

Daniel Morgan : Very intelligent, arguing against someone's PRESENT ideology by showing web sites he made YEARS AGO. You win the gold palm for argumentation, buddy.

Here's a hint for you: I became a market anarchist about three months ago. Where do you find THAT in Objectivism?

Cassandra said...

Wow. I've spent quite a while today following links all over the "atheist internet" to get an idea of what's going on.
I have never really been a fan of RA simply because of his anti-choice stance. I thought he was a moron for that reason alone.

Daniel said...


I understand. We all change our way of thinking. I used to be a Christian, which is far worse than an Objectivist. I suppose that the denial of being an Objectivist, lacking a conditional "now" or "anymore" is what threw me.

I apologize. Perhaps, though, you would agree that it is a bit harsh to react personally to persons [I'm thinking of EA in particular] who say something impersonal that irritates you? That your definition of "tit" and "tat" are not well suited to one another at times?

Daniel said...

If I may ask--when exactly would you say you "stopped being an Objectivist"?

I just ask because I noted a post on GTA recently in which you quoted from a book on the logical structure of Objectivism.

Francois Tremblay said...

"If I may ask--when exactly would you say you "stopped being an Objectivist"?"

When I realized that the standard Objectivist theory of knowledge was nonsense.

"I just ask because I noted a post on GTA recently in which you quoted from a book on the logical structure of Objectivism."

It's the best book ever written on morality, so I can't not refer to it. Heck, I would refer to the Communist Manifesto if it had anything of worth in it (fortunately, it doesn't).