Friday, March 30, 2012

The JetBlue pilot and a reason why I am an outspoken atheist

   People often spread these silly notions that we should just let people believe what they want to believe. (Alternatively: Live and let live.) It turns out this JetBlue incident may be an example of why those people are wrong. Here are videos from ABC's Good Morning America. Below the videos and the fold are my comments.

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   In the first video, it is revealed that this pilot started "delivering 'a sermon' about 'sins in Las Vegas.'" Later he talked about "150 souls on board." Early on, he is reported to have mumbled something about "being evaluated by someone." At this point, I have a suspicion as to who he thought was evaluating him. JESUS CHRIST! This first video also reports that friends said he "showed no signs of mental illness." This is where we begin to get into the problem of not only allowing people to believe what they want to believe, but making it socially acceptable to believe in fantasy. Perhaps he had been showing signs of mental illness, but no one noticed. This is, of course, all speculation at this point, but I'm really curious to know more about his church involvement. Was he, for example, speaking about Jesus more in the weeks leading up to this? If so, that could have been a bad sign. However, our culture would not recognize such a sign because that is actually viewed as a positive thing. He would have been viewed as a "good Christian" or a "strong man of faith" if this were the case. And those views are often regarded as positives instead of the negatives they should be.

   This gets us into the second video. In that video, it is discussed how what the pilot had may be an "accute psychotic break" where "you have a disconnect from reality" That emphasis is mine. I stress that because that is what Christian belief is (a disconnect from reality). Seriously, I will not go lightly on this. The Christian god concept, particularly that which is generally worshiped in church as opposed to that which is represented in the Bible, has some serious logical flaws that make it basically impossible for it to exist. I don't want to go into all the details here, but the biggest problem this god concept faces is the problem of evil, to which the free will defense seems to be the most popular. However, (1) many Christians don't appear to actually believe in free will and (2) why should they? The whole story about God coming down to earth in the form of a man named Jesus and performing miracles left and right is a violation of free will. By the way, if you want to claim that Christianity is not a disconnect from reality, don't you at least find it interesting that this pilot, if he indeed was having a psychotic break, was preaching during his break? (Yes, I realize that the idea he had a psychotic break is mostly speculation at this point. Entertain me.)

   Getting back to the point, this man has likely had a disconnect from reality for quite some time. Worse, it is a disconnect that is often respected. He could have been borderline psychotic for quite sometime, yet, since we have this society that thinks it should "respect the beliefs of others," there is no way to tell. On that point, I want to make it clear that I am not suggesting that all Christians are psychotic. That is far from it. Nor am I suggesting that atheists are not capable of having psychotic breakdowns or that this pilot would not have had a similar breakdown if he were not religious. (Though he probably would not have been so concerned with not going to Las Vegas for its relation to sin.) What I am suggesting is that early detection of such mental issues becomes more difficult in a society where some disconnects from reality are celebrated. Might this incident have been prevented if we lived in a society that instead celebrated the discovery of truth and religion? It is hard to know for sure without a time machine, yet I suspect it would help. This is one of many reasons why I have become an outspoken atheist.

UPDATE: I want to make it clear that I referred to the general Christian concept of a god above. Different denominations of Christianity can have different concepts of their god. And not all of these denominations will have a concept that is so flawed as to be absurd. That, though, does not mean that those concepts are acceptable to believe in. One should not believe without evidence. Though some of those Christians may think they have evidence, trusting in their priests or apologists that have told them such evidence exists. In which case, they don't have as strong of a disconnect with reality as those who believe in the contradictory concepts of a god. At the same time, I am still going to be outspoken against even those believers because I believe the world would be a better place the fewer false beliefs people hold.

   If this wasn't enough, JT Eberhard posted a story about a woman who slit her 5-year-old boy's throat. Apparently the woman believed her child was possessed with demons. JT's post is so good, I'm going to paste most of it here.

Beneath the immediate condemnation, there are some facts that will go missed in this story.  This mother was trying to save her son.  She loved her son and was trying to help.  The problem was not malicious intent, it was the belief in demons.  Thus is the corrupting power of bad ideas – they can make love and care irrelevant.

Other believers will say this woman was crazy, implying that she wasn’t a normal believer.  I find that odd.

“Even if you believe in that sort of thing, how can a 5-year-old be possessed or have something like that? It’s inconceivable in my mind,” said Greg Riley, a Magnolia resident.

How can a man rise from the dead?  How can a man walk on water?  Plenty of people who find those things as believable as headaches will say this woman must’ve been out of her mind for believing in demons.

And god may be righteous in ordering Jephtha or Abraham to kill their children, but this woman is just batty.

The crime of dedicated unreason resides on the shoulders of every faithful person whether moderate or fundamentalist.  Irrationality is the problem, and 0ther believers are not rescued by condemning this woman for not being irrational like them.  Other beliefs about god are no more likely to be true than this woman’s belief in demons, and it’s high time that believers are confronted directly with how worrisome it is to endorse any brand of dedicated unreason (i.e. faith).

There are consequences when populations feel comfortable believing absurd things.  The crime of religion is telling people that abandoning reason is acceptable, even necessary if you want to avoid the fires of hell.  This is a crime for which religion should be held accountable.

   So, to the next person who wants to suggest we just let people believe what they want to believe, I have just two words for you. FUCK. YOU.

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