Friday, January 15, 2010


I'm not really a fan of the late night shows on the big networks. In high school I went through a phase where I watched Letterman pretty regularly and shortly after, a friend showed me how awesome Conan is. I've always hated Leno. I don't think he's funny at all. Pretty obnoxious actually. Now in my 27th year of life on the question of "who is the best out of Leno, Letterman, or Conan?" the answer is "Jon Stewart."

Conan deserves the Tonight Show because it was promised to him. I am a firm believer in people doing what they say they will do and this seems to be a pretty clear cut case of that being the problem. To my knowledge, Conan has upheld his end of the agreement, and Jay seems to be under the impression that he can make up the rules as he goes along. I'm sure it's complicated with money and ratings, but I'm not interested in hearing that argument. Conan did his part, now NBC needs to honor their commitments. I heard about Jimmy Kimmel (who's also better than Leno), taking Leno to task on his own show last night and I can't wait to see the footage. I've heard some people saying it was staged but I don't really think so. We'll see, I guess.

When I was in youth group at my church growing up, we had a saying that I'm sure is popular in churches all over the world, "You may be the only Jesus some people ever meet."

People sometimes ask me why I bother spending my time in religious discussions with people that show no sign whatsoever of even being able to see any perspective but their own, and I think of that saying, except now it's "I may be the only skeptic some people ever meet." The only critical examination their beliefs ever get, the only voice of reason, etc. Of course, it's discouraging how little difference these conversations ever seem to make but I was encouraged the other day by my friend and Quiet Company manager, Paul. I was telling him about some of the conversations I'd had recently and I said something like " doesn't matter what the evidence suggests, they've made up their mind to believe what they want in spite of it." And then Paul said "Yeah, but I would've said the same thing about you a couple of years ago."

So I believe that people can come around because I did, though sometimes I forget that I, too, was once "blind but now I see" as the song says.
I'm currently involved with such a discussion via Facebook with a girl I went to school with and it has been pretty irksome and discouraging at points. I think the most irksome thing was in her email that I received this morning that essentially said "I don't know if you've ever REALLY searched for god, because the bible says that if you do, you'll find him. So if you haven't found him, surely you haven't really searched for him." Circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works because circular reasoning works!

She obviously doesn't know me very well and never has so I tried to soothe my ire and countered with "I don't know if you've ever really looked critically for god because if you had, I believe you'd have found him somewhat less than present." Somewhat perfectly, as I type this, the shuffle on my Ipod randomly started playing "Godless" by The Dandy Warhols. Maybe that's an ironical sign from god that he does exists...? What does the bible say about god's appreciation for irony?


  1. I know you've read Ishmael and Story of B and (I think you said also) My Ishmael, but have you read providence? Because he sums it up in Providence better than I ever could,

    "According to the fundamental notions of the Church, forbidding and permitting is what it's all about ... and this isn't just a little part. ... What kind of God is it who worries more about rules than about people? I didn't doubt that this God existed, I simply doubted that he deserved my allegiance. ... I didn't say "there is no God." What I said was, "If there is a God and he's the way the Christians say he is, then I renounce him. I despise him and will have nothing to do with him." (From Providence by Daniel Quinn, pages 95-97)

    That's exactly where I started off in my path away from faith, but I got there by the time I was 12.

    My current philosophy is that the existence of God is unprovable and therefore should be treated as any other Mythology. Arguments for God usually claim that there's a caveat about how God can't prove himself because if there was proof then faith would be useless. I think it's pretty useless anyway. I have no reason to believe in or against God because either way I get nothign out of it emotionally. Some people do, and I have no problem with them taking what they can out of religion.

    As for myself, I've never seen (christian) God as anything but a jerk who encourages people to be really terrible to one another. Even some of the more productive things in the new testament attributed to Jesus- the ones about being generous and valuing life above wealth... those are the values his people most often ignore... so what use is it?

  2. I have read the 3 Ishmael books but not "Providence." I will have to check it out, though. I'm reading too many books at one time right now, but that will surely be on my to do list.
    I didn't think that you liked Quinn, did you change your mind?

  3. Here's the Youtube clip of Kimmel on Leno last night. Pretty awesome.

  4. I didn't like Story of B. It was what I got in my hands first but it was not the best to start out with.

    I've gone back and read those 4 now, just finished Providence this week. The thing about providence is that he wrote it as an autobiography before he wrote Story of B, and all teh best stuff from Story of B is in Providence, and is written better and more convinvingly.

    There's a lot I like about Ishmael and My Ishmael, even the things I disagree with I like because they really challange me and make me think. His arguments about everything are very compelling, I just have a slightly different take on many things.

    In other words, I gave him more than one chance. :) And it was well deserved.

  5. That's awesome. I totally agree about Story of B. Easily my least favorite. I hated how the story and the lectures were split up, it made for a tiresome read to me.

    And we'd totally love any baby clothes you want to throw our way.

  6. " doesn't matter what the evidence suggests, they've made up their mind to believe what they want in spite of it."
    This is more or less what theists say about atheists too. Actually, this is what all people committed to a belief say about holders of its opposite.

    At the risk of provoking another discussion, what do you see is a positive argument/evidence for Naturalism? Or do all your arguments for Naturalism really amount to arguments against theism?

    Unless you ask me a question directly, I won't respond. I'm really not trying to get you sucked into yet another discussion, I've just curious what you have to say.

  7. I can see why he did Story of B the way he did, especially after reading Providence. He wanted to write a narrative work, but he also wanted to write dense passages of argument. While simply inserting the passages from the end into their places into the story would have made the initial reading easier, subsequent readings are much easier to read in this format. This helps to alleviate the frustrations I have in Ishmael and My Ishmael, searching through chapters going "now where is it that he talks about eduction I want to quote him..."

    So, having read his other works I can understand why he organized the book that way... but I still don't like it, and it nearly turned me off of his writing as a whole. Also, Story of B is one of the more obnoxiously written books in terms of the characters being pretty irritating. Ishmael was a lot better about that, and the girl in My Ishmael was downright endearing.

    What size is your little one wearing? I don't want to send stuff your way that's too small for you, too. :) Just gimme a size range and I'll bring a box with me to the next show I make it to.

  8. I don't spend a lot of time thinking of arguments for Naturalism per se, but I'd imagine they would mostly consist of arguments against the supernatural. Naturalism seems to me to be based on observable and explainable phenomena. I've never seen anything where only a supernatural explanation was possible so until that happens, I imagine I will remain in disbelief.