On the Cutting Room Floor

I have 25 unfinished posts sitting in my Drafts. Some of these have been there since late 2012. It’s time I bite the bullet and delete them. For posterity’s sake, I’ve decided to give some of them a moment in the spotlight. Below are excerpts from 9 posts that will never see the full light of day. They appear, roughly, in reverse chronological order.

1. From a post about taking an approach to the “big questions” similar to that of a crime scene investigator:

Let’s take “The First Big Question”: How did the universe come into being?

Answer: Nobody knows.

If this were a crime, the detective does not finger a perp. No one is arrested. The case goes cold unless and until further evidence suggests an explanation. In apologetics, God becomes the answer because God could create the universe.

How did a god become a suspect? How do we know there is a god to even suggest as a suspect? For this to truly work as evidence for God’s existence, one has to assume God exists and take the lack of evidence for any answer to be evidence for God being the answer.

2. From a post about my very pedantic dislike for the term “authentic self”:

Let me try and flesh out what I mean by example. Imagine you have a group of friends that are jazz aficionados. You, on the other hand, are ambivalent to jazz at best. However, to maintain your connection to the group, you put on the appearance of passion for jazz. This appearance of jazz fandom does not accurately reflect your actual feelings for jazz. Within the concept, being your “authentic self” would mean outwardly acknowledging your ambivalence to jazz. This more accurately reflects who you “really” are.

My quibble is that this suggests the capacity for dishonesty and misrepresentation is not an actual part of who you are. But, surely, this is false. If we are going to talk about someone, authentically, it seems to me this should encompass the complete person, positive and negative. A person telling a lie is not being inauthentic to that individual’s self because a part of the scope of that individual is the capacity to lie. A better way to phrase the concept underlying “authentic self” is to say “honest self” or “ideal self”.

3. From a post titled “On Successful Marriages”:

Bob Seidensticker has recently put up a post entitled “How Christianity Infantilizes Adults.” Though Seidentsticker’s point is a little different then mine, I bring it up because the basic refrain is one I’ve heard a number of times throughout the atheist community (to be fair, if you read back through my posts, I may have said it). It takes little effort to realize that this generalization is not universal. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was driven and inspired by his Christianity, and one could hardly call him infantilized.

4. From a post about comparing ideals and realities of masculinity:

For example, here’s a list from askmen.com of the top 10 ways to be a real man:

10. Have a sophisticated vocabulary
9. Be caught up on current events in the news
8. Don’t overshare: don’t gossip, blab, or brag
7. Stay fit
6. Always insist on paying. Split the bill if she insists on paying.
5. Don’t fixate or worry about your significant other’s past relationships
4. Express your feelings in writing (e.g., heartfelt words in anniversary card or a text to say you miss her)
3. Drink hard liquor because whiskey is manlier than a Sex on the Beach
2. Have a firm handshake
1. When talking with someone, look them in the eye

Items 5,7,8,9, and 10 (half the list) are items I suspect are in most people’s “real woman” list. Item’s 1,2,4, and 6 may not appear on all “real woman” lists, but they will be regulars. Item 3 is basically a tautology (real men drink hard liquor because hard liquor is manlier).

So, out of 9 actual items, all 9 could be suggestions on how women should act. In other words, a “real man” is indistinguishable from a woman. Of course, it’s not quite that simple, but masculinity isn’t going to be found in a nice, pithy list. Likewise, any lists that are created are probably not exclusively masculine.

5. From a post about views on moral outrage and use of the word ‘bigot’:

There has been a recent back and forth between Wes Alwan and Ta-Nehisi Coates regarding the proper application of the term ‘bigot.’ The conversation also involves a couple posts by Andrew Sullivan. The focus of the conversation surrounds the recently released footage of Alec Baldwin using a homophobic slur while yelling at a photographer. Since I am most interested in a small portion of the conversation, I won’t link to all of the relevant posts here. The full conversation can be found in my ‘Other Thoughts’ section at the end.

Though I ostensibly agree with Alwan on his point, I do not think it is clear that he is properly applying the ethical notions underpinning his point as it relates to his response to Coates. That makes sense, right? In other words, Alwan needs to apply his critique of Coates to his critique of Coates. I’ll try to make this clear later.

6. From a post sharing a link to Matthew Ferguson’s blog Celsus and discussing a couple posts:

The second post details why he is not convinced by apologetics. In the post, Ferguson outlines what he sees as three trends in apologetics and explains why they don’t sway him. The section that really struck me was the third section: the god of the unwarranted premise. I’ve always called them “god as that which can do what I need it to do” arguments.

Ferguson explains them as:

X cannot exist unless Y exists.
X exists.
Therefore, Y exists.

X is replaced with whatever you want and Y is replaced with God. So, for example:

Absolute truth cannot exist unless God exists.
Absolute truth exists.
Therefore, God exists.

Ferguson’s basic point is that, in the end, this is all just assertion. It’s not like anyone has actually demonstrated any of this. Yes, people provide extensive argumentation to back up the assertion. However, it all still rests on mere assertion. 

This was refreshing to read. For example, the first time I heard the cosmological argument, where it was asserted that God was needed to get things going, my honest thought was, “How the fuck do you know that?”

7. From a post about always using child rape or the Holocaust as examples of obviously objective morals:

And let me be clear, I am not making an overarching critique of objective morality. Nor am I suggesting that such an argument be viewed as a bad argument for objective morality. It is, however, a common argument for objective morality. I’m just pointing out that it ironically appeals to our subjective intuitions.

8. Some selections from a post on a men’s rights movement poster on unchecked female privilege:

Circumcision is illegal: It seems this is God’s fault. Take it up with Him.

Draft immunity: Again, a relic of patriarchal gender roles. Society deems your gender too weak to handle combat, and your exclusion should be considered a privilege. Sound logic, that.

More scholarships available: Women have the privilege of suffering from discrimination. It is a privilege because, once society sees the error of its way, it will make attempts to rectify those errors. Again, rock solid logic.

Hypergamy: I had to look this up. It is marrying up in status. So, women have the privilege of starting from such a low status that they are able to marry up. Brilliant. Also, I think this is refuted a by a “privilege” a little further down the list.

Reproductive rights: Men have them, too. That’s why the court makes you pay child support.

White House Women and Girls Council: Let me make an offer: once we have a streak of 44 consecutive female presidents, the White House Council on Women and Girls can be deemed “unchecked female privilege”. Deal?

Pop quiz (and no cheating): Who chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls?

9. From a post about modesty and swimwear:

Because of this, a woman dressing modestly to avoid being tempting to a guy misses the point, entirely. We don’t get rid of chocolate cake to eliminate the temptations and lusts we have for the calorie-filled tastiness it represents. Instead, we develop a mature way of managing our habits of eating chocolate cake. The same needs to be the case for lust, affection, sex, companionship, romance, etc. Instead of having one party hide themselves away, we should foster in all people a healthy self-understanding of our desires.

To this point, I’ve allowed the chocolate cake analogy to hold, but it has one very significant flaw: a piece of chocolate cake being lusted after is very different than a woman being lusted after.

Consider the chocolate cake. We have a desire to live a healthy life, but chocolate cake works against this because it is calorie-filled yet tasty. We have a number of options here. We can never make chocolate cake. We can allow it to be made but avoid eating it. We can find lower-calorie methods of making chocolate cake that keep some of its tastiness.

But remember, by analogy, the chocolate cake is women. The first two options (killing all women and complete celibacy), I assume, are off the table. So, this leaves the low-calorie option, namely, modesty. But a woman isn’t a piece of chocolate cake! It’s fine to make a low-calorie chocolate cake, but why should a woman be denied a fullness of self? Why can’t she be “high in calories?” Why must she hide herself?





  1. N. E. White · September 11, 2014

    I like the last point. Indeed, I am not chocolate cake.

    • thecaveatlector · September 11, 2014

      Any time someone is accused of being immodest, the proper response is to politely remind the accuser, “I am not chocolate cake.”

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