Feminist or Female Misogynist?

Feminism is defined by the Oxford dictionary as: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”  Wikipedia adds: “Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment.”

I see the word “equal” or some derivation of that word in both definitions. Perhaps we should examine that word: ” (1.1) having the same status, rights, or opportunities. (1.2) Uniform in application or effect; without discrimination on any grounds (1.3) Evenly or fairly balanced” – Oxford Dictionaries.

So from the definition, one would think that if there exist inequalities that favor women, feminists should seek to reduce that favoritism, no? Inequalities such as: making up the majority of college graduates, making up the vast minority of workplace deaths, making up the minority of the homeless, or receiving less harsh criminal sentences for the same crimes would (one might think) also be on the agenda of the dictionary feminist.

There is one well known and outspoken feminist that I know of who does speak out about these inequities, Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers. Calling herself an “Equity Feminist” to differentiate her vision of feminism from the mainstream version (a distinction which should not have to be made if the dictionary definition was followed by those “mainstream feminists”), she frequently speaks out on some of the inequities I mentioned above. According to the dictionary definition so frequently pointed to by the mainstream feminists, Dr. Sommers should be a venerated leader of the movement, right?

So how is Dr. Sommers viewed by those who speak for feminism?

MH

Anti-feminist?? Surely that must be an aberrant view. Perhaps PZ Myers (a well known advocate of feminism) holds Dr. Sommers in higher regard. Here’s PZ:  “First, that’s straight from Christina Hoff Sommers, the one ‘feminist’ (she’s more of an anti-feminist) writer the misogynists love to quote.

Wow, that’s another claim of anti-feminism. Perhaps Melody and PZ aren’t aware of the definition of feminism. Let’s see PZ’s definition of feminism: “My definition of a feminist is someone who recognizes the inequities towards women of the present system, and argues for changing the status quo.”  Hmm, so inequities only seem to count when they are not in the favor of women. Inequities that favor women are just fine. That seems to go against the Oxford definition.

Let’s do a Google search for Dr. Sommers and “anti-feminist“. I get over 67,000 results. Surely that can’t be right?

I know quite a few women who call themselves feminists that actually believe in the principles of equality articulated in the dictionary definition. Unsurprisingly, many of these women are ostracized by the Melody Hensley’s and PZ Myers’ of the world. In fact, there are quite a number of them on the Atheism Plus Blockbot. To my mind, blocking women who follow the dictionary definition of feminism is odd behavior from “feminists”.

If you identify as a feminist and you speak out about inequalities regardless of the gender affected, you have my respect. If you are one of the ones who block and call “anti-feminist” those who see inequities that affect both genders, you have my contempt.

I prefer to call myself an egalitarian. There’ are a lot fewer claims of being “anti-egalitarian”.

Get some time.

Why Atheists Should Worship Jesus

I know what you’re going to say, but hear me out. You’re going to say, “But we don’t believe in deities and Jesus is claimed to be one!”. Hold your horses (or your asses to wax Biblical). Atheists can get a lot of benefits by worshiping Jesus.

First of all, if you live in a predominantly Christian region of the globe, you will fit in better in your local community. You will meet a lot of new people at church, some of whom are the movers and shakers in the community. You will also get the benefit of weekly socialization and fellowship with other people.

Another benefit is that you won’t have to constantly be vigilant about Christian groups getting governmental support for their projects and memorials. You won’t have to monitor school boards that attempt to have Intelligent Design taught in biology classes. Think how much easier your life will be!

Your on-line life will be much easier as well. No more long discussions with theists about evidence and the burden of proof. No more arguments.You can just sail through your social media time with cat photos and funny Vine’s. Won’t that be nice!

So, in summary: blending in, making new contacts, and a less stressful life are some of the benefits for worshiping Jesus in majority Christian regions. Those of you atheists in Islamic regions might want to consider Allah instead.

****************************************************************************

 

This is what you sound like when you post blogs proclaiming that “Atheists Should...”.

Atheists should: not believe in deities. Period. Full stop.

 

Get some time.

 

#GamerGate – It’s Not About Misogyny

We’ve all heard the rhetoric. Seemingly, any criticism of ideological “truths”,  is rebutted with claims of hatred or persecution. We’ve seen it with the Christian claims of persecution whenever a teacher violates the law by leading prayer or a 10 commandments memorial on government property is opposed. We see it in social issues, employed by the group which has come to be known as “Social Justice Warriors”.

Using a co-opted version of Marx’s standpoint theory (where the only people with a correct view of society are those deemed “marginalized”) any defense of their criticisms is deemed “part of the problem”.  I’m sure you have seen the comments saying things like, “All these comments against feminism is why we need more feminism”. These folks are not your coffee shop feminists who truly believe in equality. These ideologues hold radicalized beliefs which are sacrosanct. Standpoint theory, Patriarchy theory (kyriarchy is patriarchy in new clothes), and the belief that gender differences are all socially constructed are at the core of this ideology and they are unquestionable.

As a skeptic, I don’t believe any ideas should be free from critique or inquiry.

When the claim is made that SJW critiques are being opposed simply out of misogyny (or other form of hatred), that claim is truly believed by the one making it. In an act of doublethink that would make Orwell cringe, they believe they are oppressed when nearly every major media outlet presents the story from their (biased) perspective.

In relation to #GamerGate, they believe they are oppressed when nearly all of the gaming media couch the issue in terms like “misogyny” and “neckbeard”. When 10 articles are released by different gaming media sites within a 48 hour period, all of which declare “gamers” are finished, perhaps they have more power than they claim. When an obviously biased critique of “tropes vs women” garners Ambassador Awards and consulting positions for its creator, perhaps they are not so powerless.

As a gamer (or just as a person who plays video games), I don’t care about the race, sex, sexual orientation, or identity of the people who make games. I care about the games themselves. If a game is fun and engaging, it doesn’t matter to me what demographic its creator is a member of.

Like most people, I believe in fairness and equal treatment. Ironically that’s the very thing being being claimed as goals by the SJW’s, all while getting preferential articles in the media, preferential judging in contests, and preferential treatment on Steam. How fair and equitable is the cronyism to the developers who aren’t in the “clique”?

GamerGate is not about misogyny, it’s about fairness and equitable treatment for all gamers and developers.

 

 

GamerGate – The Next Phase of Social Engineering

If you play video games as a recreation, chances are you’ve heard of GamerGate. The latest kerfuffle in a string of such dramas that seemingly follow a set script. Community X is largely made of of males due to it once being seen as nerdy or uncool. Community X grows in popularity. Social Justice Warriors invade Community X and demand it redecorate to their tastes. There is usually an innocuous trigger event that brings the slow invasion to everyone’s attention.

It has happened in the atheist/skeptic community with an event called ElevatorGate. It has happened in the comic/geek community (although I’m not aware of a ‘Gate’ event for that community as yet). Now it has occurred in the gaming community.

I’m not going to rehash the entire event sequence that encompasses what is now called GamerGate as many others have done a much better job of that than I could. The actual details of the spark that brought this all out in the open are irrelevant. The pattern is the key component that hasn’t gotten enough attention in my opinion.

What these agenda driven ideologues do, instead of creating games that do not contain the “problematic” content that they point out in existing games (and out-competing those existing games), is to infiltrate the community and claim discrimination when their ideas are not immediately seized upon by the giants in the industry. In what commercial industry do the newest people in the company make product decisions? Does Apple take product ideas from the new guy in the mail room?

Companies understand two things very well: profit and to a lesser extent, public relations. If a SJW were to create their own game which sold millions of copies, believe me the industry would take notice and start making changes in their games. There really is no barrier for PC game designers since the technology to create a game is readily available and in some cases free. So why doesn’t someone make a game with a social justice agenda and show the big companies the way into a new market? If the gaming community is so thirsty for these types of agenda driven games, why haven’t any been made by independent developers and become huge success stories?

The agenda driven ideologues don’t actually want to make games that tell stories of the marginalized. If they did, they could create their own. No, what they want is rapid (instant) power and status in the existing game development structure. They want power and influence over content and message because games are just another form of media to promulgate their agenda. The SJW method is an end run around merit or talent to get to the powerful positions in the industry.

The method is similar to that used in the atheist community. Criticize the existing structure from a biased perspective, block or disable dissenting opinions and discussion, wait for the inevitable trollish hatred and nasty comments, display the troll comments as proof of the initial problem, rinse and repeat. Click bait journalists eat this stuff up since it makes the page counter spin and they will publish the trolling as news, often completely overlooking the dozens or hundreds of reasoned rebuttals of the initial criticisms.

The SJW’s want power, control and the ability to spout their message without critique.

Infantalization of Science Denialism

Try a little thought experiment with me. Try to imagine that you don’t exist.

Some of you may picture an entirely black field of nothing (like I do initially). This inky blackness is actually something though. Perhaps you imagine the rest of the world going about their business. Still something. It’s very difficult to get a deep “feel” for what non-existence will be “like”. Intellectually we know that it won’t be “like” anything. That there will be no consciousness to experience the “nothing”. This realization is rather hollow, however, since most of us still can’t get an intuitive understanding of not existing.

This basic limitation of human brains is perhaps one of the reasons for positing an “eternal soul”.

I’m not the first to say this, but a thought occurred to me the other day while contemplating the opposition to evolutionary theory by so many fundamentalists (of several religions).

If evolution is true, I will cease to exist. If evolution is true, I’m not special merely for having been born.

The thought that struck me was not the above, but something a bit more sinister. If evolution is true then either God is directing it or it’s entirely natural. If God is directing evolution, who is to say that we humans are God’s end goal?

Here’s the kicker: If evolution is true, we humans are ultimately responsible for what we do. In the past this meant personal accountability to each other and society. Today, it means responsibility to our planetary ecosystem. There’s no “daddy” in the sky to rescue us from our own folly. In a word, if evolution is true and naturalistic, we humans are adults. We don’t have the luxury of saying, “Oops, we screwed up. Daddy bail us out.” We don’t get to ask for forgiveness and have it granted. This is why evolution and climate change are so opposed by the faithful.

Being planetary adults, like becoming adults in society, is frightening. Suddenly we are on our own to deal with reality without a parent to swoop in and pick up the pieces of our failures.

In this sense, religion infantilizes human societies. It says to humans, “Don’t worry. Daddy will be here to clean up your mess, should you falter”.

I for one would rather be an adult…and so should you.

 

On Dr. Tavris’ TAM Speech

Yesterday I was privileged to watch the Carol Tavris presentation from TAM 2014 entitled, “Who’s Lying, Who’s Self-Justifying? Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Allegations”. It was quite good and I recommend watching the presentation.

While I have a criticism of her talk (which I’ll get to later), it was outstanding to hear a sensible and scientifically sourced discussion of this highly emotional topic. Dr Tavris does this while still managing to be charismatic and humorous. She is, in my estimation, a top notch speaker.

Her challenge to those of us who are skeptically minded is basically to withhold judgement on claims of sexual misconduct (as we should for other claims) until sufficient evidence is available to make a determination. This principle is the backbone of skepticism and should be unremarkable. The fact that people associated with the atheist/skeptic community are failing to do this (and indeed finding the principal itself objectionable in sexual allegation cases) is odd, to say the least.

Dr. Tavris points out several factors which impede the process of withholding judgement in the early part of the presentation. Among these are prejudices, beliefs, experiences and politics. I would add one more: ideology. To my mind a skeptic who follows an ideology is only a partial skeptic. Ideologies begin with a premise(s) that is unavailable to further scrutiny and thus unassailable by further evidence. As Dr. Tavris points out, evidence dis-confirming a strongly held belief is rarely accepted by the believer. This self reinforcing aspect of ideologies makes them extremely resistant to evidential analysis.

Dr. Tavris also points out the extreme variability of studies on rates of rape/sexual assault. She does this with a bit of subtlety and concludes that, as skeptics, we should not accept or dispute the results of these studies. We should therefore reserve our judgement of these “statistics” until the studies return consistent and reliable data. This will likely not occur until studies are created by unbiased (in either direction) investigators.

Another point she makes is the difficulty in making policy to protect both potential victims and the innocent accused. Citing a California bill as one of the more ludicrous examples of ideology driven policy, Dr Tavris satirizes the implementation difficulties. Earlier in the presentation she mentions existing collegiate policy that seem to be gender directional. There are even civil liberties groups forming to moderate these existing policies for fairness to all parties.

As I stated earlier, I really have only one criticism of Dr. Tavris’ talk and it is this: at no point did she even consider the possibility of a male victim of sexual misconduct by a female. She repeatedly placed the males in the role of perpetrator only. It’s a small criticism, I admit and one I can live with in the light of her otherwise excellent talk.

Get some time.

.

Weaponized Rhetoric

So, as both of my readers will be aware, I am on vacation this week. I am checking in with the online atheosphere only irregularly. Still, a couple of interesting things have lit up my (attenuated) radar. Surprisingly, both of them involve Professor Richard Dawkins. Unsurprisingly, they also include the SJW squadron of the internet atheist barnstorming wing. I’ll write on the second interesting thing after I get back from vacation.

The first and probably less important of the two is the reaction to a series of tweets by Prof. Dawkins. Mr. Fogg shows off his mastery of one of the rhetorical devices that I see far too much of. The device involves restating one’s interlocutor’s statement. While there is nothing wrong with restating interrogatively for clarity (or for lighthearted humor) the use here is not for clarification, but to imbue the statement with originally nonexistent malice. One could easily find countless examples of this device by simply perusing the Block Bot administrators’ timelines.

Take a look at Dr. Dawkins’ explicit caution: “If you think that’s an endorsement of [X], go away and learn how to think.” This is unambiguous. It very clearly says I do not endorse [X].

Now the device. After some discussion (albeit not with Dawkins) the restatement is issued: “Another way of reading  (italics mine) his comments, logically…’[X]? Not so bad.’” Of course one can read something in any way one likes. The principle of charity is not really a hard and fast rule on Twitter. That’s not the weaponized rhetorical device. That’s merely an offhand observation on my part.

The device, complete with what one must assume are “scare quotes” rather than ordinary quotation marks, is precisely NOT what the professor has explicitly stated. Now perhaps with charity one can presume that Mr. Fogg has simply misunderstood the remark, forgotten the explicit warning, or has had poor logic instruction. The problem there is that the discussion with a third party specifically clarifies that caution. This is a weaponized restatement (WR).

Fogg manages, artfully in my opinion, to combine his WR with the second type of weaponized rhetorical device I want to highlight. Did you see it? It was carefully inserted into the same tweet I quoted above. Need a hint? It’s an equivocation.

Weaponized equivocation is using a word or phrase in such a way that the more common use of the word or phrase is implied when a more arcane use can be claimed as the intent. In Fogg’s tweet it is the phrase “Not so bad” which in common parlance implies something rather trivial.

“Heard you had to get an injection from the doctor, how was it?”

“Not so bad.”

In this case the phrase in question is not explicitly defined and clearly has no negative connotations on its own. Not the case with other forms of this device seem frequently in online discourse. One example of this equivocation is in the (over) use of the word misogyny. Clearly, this word has very pronounced negative connotations but can be found to be used as a replacement (equivocation) word for: criticized, disagreed, or mocked (among others including the nebulous “get shit thrown at them” see link above). That is, the substitution seems to be made when certain female internet personalities are treated to actions more clearly described by the latter group of words than the equivocator word.

Other common equivocation words are : harass, sexual harassment,  death threat, rape threat, and MRA.

When “sexual harassment” is substituted for an action like refilling someone’s wine glass, it’s easy to see the equivocation. Most other forms/incidents of the weaponized equivocation (WE) are not as easy to spot or as egregious as the wine glass one.

That’s not to say that they’re “Not too bad.

 

 

 

A-Bugatti-ist

Weirdly enough, this continues to be a point of confusion (or deliberate obfuscation) by theists.

Let’s say that you and I just met. You introduce yourself and tell me, ” You know, I have a really awesome car. It’s a Bugatti Veyron.”

I say, ” Cool, can I go for a ride in it?”

You say, “No, I don’t give rides.”

I say, “Okay, well, do you have a picture of it? Maybe one with you standing near it?”

You say, “No, but I have the brochure photo from the internet. See, that’s my car.”

At this point I’m starting to have doubts that you really own this fantastically expensive car. Perhaps I even disbelieve that you own one. The possibility still exists that you might own the car you claim to own, but are just eccentric about showing it to anyone. Notice that at this point I don’t necessarily believe that you  do not own a Bugatti. I lack a belief in your Bugatti ownership.

At this point in our relationship I’ve become am a-Bugatti-ist with respect to your ownership of one. I don’t believe you own one (lacking a belief), but I also don’t believe that you definitely don’t own one.

As time passes and every time I ask you for some type of evidence of your Bugatti, you get more and more dismissive and obstinate about the subject. At one point you even say, ” You can’t prove I don’t own a Bugatti!”.

I now may feel I have reason enough to actively believe (take a position of belief) that you, in fact do not own the vehicle. I have no direct evidence that you don’t own the car, but still take a position of belief that you don’t. I’m now a strong a-Bugatti-ist. I have a belief with respect to your vehicle ownership. It is a negative belief.

See the difference?

 

Get some time.

 

 

There’s Never a True Scotsman (and why they’re not needed)

A recent discussion over a parody video has become my muse for this post.

The parody was Thunderf00t’s aping of Anita Sarkeesian with the genders reversed. Something even “da f00t” called, “just for fun”. I won’t debate the merits of the video here, except to say that I thought it was over the top (as a parody should be) and mildly amusing. The issue arose when I saw some one criticizing the video based on the title and without having watched it!

Of course, since Anita was the person being parodied, the subject material being parodied was feminism. The conversation evolved along a predictable path. A path that anyone who has ever tried to question, dispute, or argue against any specific part of the ideology will find comfortably familiar.

Feminism, it will be/was stated, is nothing more and nothing less that the movement for equal treatment of men and women.

Please disregard the fact that perfectly equal treatment of all members of a sexually dimorphic species is a practical impossibility. Why? Because biologically, women and men are inherently unequal.

Before you get your pitchforks and torches out, let me explain. I’m not saying either sex is inherently better or worse than the other. I’m simply saying that… I can’t give birth. No matter how hard I try to get myself pregnant and birth a baby, it’s not going to happen. This one inescapable fact of biology means that exactly equal treatment cannot occur. I have no right to terminate a pregnancy while any woman does. The consequences of that one fact are sweeping in family law, medicine, and other aspects of modern human life. There are other differences between men and women (when looked at in aggregate) that I’m going to ignore for brevity.

The pursuit of complete and total equality therefore, is NOT what feminism is striving for. If that were the case either men could demand abortions too or no one could. The heat death of the universe will likely occur before feminists allow the former to be enacted, so the only other way to achieve  complete equality is to remove all options once a pregnancy occurs. Another way of saying that is that women would have the same rights after a pregnancy occurs as a man: none (“he should have kept his pants on” and “he made his choice when he decided to have sex”).

Feminism seeks for women all the rights that men have ( I would argue this is already achieved) plus additional rights. I have asked many times in my discussions with feminists for the specification of just one right that men have in western societies, that women do not. I have yet to get that question answered. (feel free to propose one in comments)

Whenever feminists disagree over any minor thing it is/will be presented as proof of diversity of thought.

In the next phase of the discussion, issue was taken with Thunderf00t’s use of the word “feminism” in his video title. I opined that the term was fair game since Anita’s YouTube channel name (and website) are titled “Feminist Frequency“. This line of thinking was, of course, rejected.

An analogy to Deepak Chopra was drawn, with Chopra standing in for Anita. The analogy went something like this: Anita calling her channel “Feminist Frequency” was like Chopra calling himself a physicist. This analogy came from  one of my interlocutors. I responded with something along the lines that Deepak is widely called out by real physicists on his woo. Who calls out Anita and who are the “real feminists”? A link was provided to a Storify, ostensibly to show her being “called out” by other feminists. The part I missed at the time was that Anita was not being called out on the major theme, evidence, or conclusions of her video, but for the use of an impolitic phrase. The main thrust of her video was lauded!

No one person, or even one organization, speaks for all of feminism.

I asked this question directly. Who speaks for feminism? The answer was refreshingly honest: “no one”. The very fact that there’s no set established orthodoxy was bemoaned as a problem. I think it’s actually more of a strength than a weakness. If no one is accountable for keeping the theories and beliefs of the ideology collated and available for examination, then no one is ever a “true feminist”. It can be claimed that “That’s not my feminism”, or as many will have heard, “Not all feminists are like that”.

The very nebulous nature of the ideology works in the favor of it’s proponents. Any core belief, things being taught in university courses, or pronouncements of “feminist scholars” can be disavowed in public discussions while simultaneously be used by the political movers and shakers to effect public policy. In a word, it is a brilliant strategy.

To be fair, I make this criticism of the MRM as well. Rather, I would if the MRM had any influence on public policy makers. The fact that just holding a conference to talk about men’s issues arouses so much vitriolic antipathy in mainstream media and among feminists (but not True Feminists®, mind you) certainly gives clues to the observant about where the political and social power lies.

 Feminism uses inherent human biases to gain political power.

When I tell people that humans are biased in favor of women, I often get viscerally negative reactions. “Just look around and see almost exclusively men in ‘positions of power’”, they say. (Strangely enough, I also hear the “just look around” phrase  from creationists). There are studies, however that demonstrate the deference afforded to women by both males and females. My claim is that this bias means that when women complain about something, both men and women are motivated to “correct” the problem being complained about.

This basal psychological bias is used by feminism (the ideology of equality for women) to keep agitating for more and more concessions from government and corporate entities. Thus far this bias has resulted in some unequal allocation of resources weighted in favor of women.

In the US, a wonderful amendment known as ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) was opposed so strongly by conservative women such as Phyllis Schlafly that the amendment was narrowly defeated. Why was the amendment defeated? In my opinion, it was because society no longer had a clear idea that the ERA was what women wanted.

Mrs Schlafly began her opposition after 28 states had already ratified it. She and her group successfully managed to block the ERA. Ironically, I believe this event was the best thing that could have happened to political feminism, even though NOW and other feminist groups were opposing Mrs Schlafly at the time. In my reading of history, this event (the blockage of the ERA) was the beginning of feminism’s departure from “Equal rights for women full stop”. Had the ERA passed, I believe feminism would have begun to slowly fade into the background, losing political and scholarly power since their goal would have been achieved.

Presently, even though I can’t think of a single right men have that women don’t, feminism is in full throat. The reason is that it isn’t about equal rights any longer. It has no stated goal (other than the nebulous “free democracy from patriarchy“). It has no end point where feminists can say, “Whew, we’ve done it. Mission accomplished”. This lack of a “finish line” coupled with the innate biases for women, means that advocacy can continue indefinitely. Power will be exerted and monies will be collected far into the foreseeable future.

Although I have no power (and very little readership) I’m asking feminists to get the major players in feminism to agree to and publish a set of specific conditions that would meet all its goals. I’m asking for a finish line scenario, if you will. I won’t get one, but I think it’s important to ask.

In the interests of fairness, I’m also asking for any members of the MRM to provide the same type of “finish line” results that would allow the dissolution of the MRM.

Get some time.

 

 

Wilful Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of disbelief is a phenomenon whereby people accept fantastic premises for the duration of a story. The story can be oral, written, or film, but the process by which humans suspend their disbelief is similar in each media. The suspension is entered into somewhat voluntarily at first, but can be broken by inconsistent rules of the story universe, characters behaving in unbelievable ways within that universe, or in the case of film by poor effects. Thus, good authors and film makers are the ones who can write or direct consistent behaviors and events even if those events or behaviors would not be believed if you saw the story in (say) a tabloid.

Humans begin practicing this suspension of disbelief at an early age. Some of the first stories we’re told or read to as children are the so called “fairy tales“. Cinderella, The Elves and the Shoemaker, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rumpelstiltskin are some of the fairy tales I remember from early childhood. I’m sure you remember such tales and others from yours. These types of children’s stories have been around for a very long time. Aesop wrote fables in the 6th century BC. Many of these tales had completely unbelievable events or characters in them. These types of stories are good for helping to develop young imaginations, instilling moral values, and establishing a culture.

In addition to the classics, modern children are exposed to many other forms of stories giving them ample practice in suspending disbelief. One of the earliest favorite books I remember from my childhood was “Danny and the Dinosaur“, a tale of a schoolboy meeting (and riding) a living dinosaur. There are the Clifford books, the Berenstain Bears, Disney films, Pixar films, and a glut of television cartoons available now. (I had to wait for Saturday morning for cartoons, back in the day.)

Now all of these instances of suspension of disbelief are fine in that no one is continually telling children that they are actually true. No one insisted that Danny was a real boy who actually rode a dinosaur to school one day. No one kept telling me that the three little pigs actually built houses from various materials. I knew (or later learned) that these stories were just that, imaginative fantasy.

Where the problem comes in, is with religious tales. Stories of equally improbable or impossible events that children are brought up hearing over and over by adults who insist that these fantastic tales are actually true. These stories are introduced at a time when children are still using magical thinking. From wikipedia’s article: “Magical thinking is most dominantly present in children between age 2 to 7 years old.” This is precisely the time that religious children are being taught the Biblical stories (or a sanitized version of them) as literal truth. These stories are doctrinal rather than fanciful and therefore become a form of indoctrination.

As an indoctrination survivor ( excuse the SJW terminology), I know the effort required to break through the suspension of disbelief which was installed as a feature in my thinking. Even after realizing that my previous beliefs had insufficient rational basis to retain, the specter of that early programming lingers on. It would be better if adults waited until children reach the age where they can grasp these complex issues and can reason critically, before introducing religious concepts to them.

Now, I’m not saying there should be laws that prevent religious upbringing of children (although there is some merit to the idea). I’m asking you theist, to minimize the amount of doctrine taught to a child until their minds are more capable of examining the concepts involved. Delay the religious instruction until children are no longer using magical thinking. Instill critical thinking skills and healthy skepticism in your kids. These skills and attitudes will serve them far better in life than the imagery of the talking snake in the garden.