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Some Need Clarifications and Annoucements.

January 20, 2010

A long time blog reader (Jerome)  has called me on something and I think he is right. That is, my general attitude towards this whole discussion, which has been pretty damn bad. I’ll admit, I have been in a horrible mood this past weekend. Believe it or not, it had very little to do with the PZ discussion which, before it happend, had been sort of an afterthought to my weekend. At the end of last week, I traveled to PA, back to C-Bus, late night on Friday with puking daughter, the PZ interview, and then another late night with puking son. Then, I had very sick wife and I caught the bug myself. Thankfully, no puking, but a horrible stomach ache for about tweleve hours.

 All that to say, I beg everyone’s forgiveness for my short, curt, half assed answers to many of the questions posed. All of you asked legit questions and should have been answered in a much better manner than my responses. Many of you felt that I was avoiding, and I honestly wasn’t. I just felt shitty and I didn’t feel like going indepth with many of your questions. It just took much energy that I didn’t have at the moment.

I still stand by my original position of full rights of civil union/marriage but not performing a ceremony myself. I just think my explanations were lame and incomplete.  Worse, they were self righteous and full of pride, the dragons of my soul. For this, I ask your forgiveness.

Which bring me to my second point. For those of you who have been around a long time, you know I have contracted with a major agent to write about my time hanging around with atheists. For those of you who haven’t been around, this is not a “let’s bash atheist” book”, but rather an attempt (among other things) to stop Christians from bashing atheists. Even more, that atheists have legit questions about God and Christianity that ought to be discussed, something many Christians aren’t willing to accept.  It’s a book that I hope will elevate the conversation between the two groups and I didn’t do a good job of representing this myself. ALthough, I’ll freely admit, after this weekend, I was attempted to throw the whole thing in the trash in disgust.

I have recovered my senses and my Irish temper has cooled. However, my agent has informed me that he would like the whole book done before he starts shopping it to publishers. Right now, I’m at 39,000 words and I need to get to around 70,000 to 75,000. So, basically, I need to get on the stick and write.

All that to say is I’m not sure how much I’m going to be able to respond to blog posts in the next few weeks. I’m going to be writing like a mad fiend to hopefully finish the rough draft of the book by the end of January.

I say this for those who have good questions and want them answered. This blog’s semi-popularity (or hatred of, depending on your point of view) has caught me by suprise. For some, a blog is their chief discussion point for these issues. It’s not for me. That happens at Ohio State with my student group and the Students for Free thought on campus. They are my first reponsiblity as for question answering. Everyone else is just going to have to wait. I realize this probably seems like avoidance or being slippery. I can’t change that possible perception, but it’s just the truth. Your questions are important to me. They are hard, but they are good. They deserve answers, I just don’t think I’ll be able to get to everyone’s questions at this point. When the book is finished, I should have more time.



31 Comments leave one →
  1. erp permalink
    January 20, 2010 10:31 pm

    I’m glad things are a bit better. Hope all goes well with the writing.

  2. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 20, 2010 10:58 pm

    Thanks Erp!

  3. Knockgoats permalink
    January 21, 2010 4:56 am

    I still stand by my original position of full rights of civil union/marriage but not performing a ceremony myself. I just think my explanations were lame and incomplete. Worse, they were self righteous and full of pride, the dragons of my soul. For this, I ask your forgiveness. – Jon

    You clearly still think that if you explain it right, your bigotry will be acceptable. It won’t.

  4. Richard Eis permalink
    January 21, 2010 6:40 am

    I can wait. I fear however that your explanation will leave us as disappointed as your gay friends were. I can hope only that you change your mind, rather than again asking for forgiveness.

  5. Knockgoats permalink
    January 21, 2010 7:18 am

    BTW, Jon, sorry you and your family have been ill. A couple of years ago, me and mine had what sounds like the same (norovirus), so I know how unpleasant it is to be clearing up vomit while feeling nauseous yourself.

  6. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 21, 2010 9:10 am

    THanks, Knockgoats, I do appreciate it. I hate throwing up myself. I think my wife has only heard me throw up once in eleven years of marriage.

  7. AdamK permalink
    January 21, 2010 9:54 am

    I’m sure we’re all quite sympathetic, but you know it’s your own fault for choosing a disease-spreading heterosexual lifestyle and involving innocent children in it.

  8. January 21, 2010 10:44 pm

    Cut yourself some slack; you had a rough time of it, and still made your best effort to respond gracefully under stress and pressure. And a troll too.

    I finally caught up with the comments on Pharyngula. Whether or not anyone agrees with your position on gay marriage is sort of irrelevant. It’s an opinion, and in your case it’s even a professional opinion. You reached out to do a good thing and should be commended, but there is just no pleasing some people.

    Speaking of good things, can we have an update on the fundraising? If you wrote anything about that, I missed it.

  9. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 21, 2010 11:08 pm

    oh! The fundraising drive went well. We got what we needed (1400), so we are in great shape!

    Thanks Tomato. I really appreciate it.

  10. erp permalink
    January 21, 2010 11:29 pm

    Ah good to see what was needed was raised.

    As far as marriage, some churches and their members are changing, but, a big step is when they no longer stand in the way of civil marriage and the marriages by other denominations and religions and I am willing to be thankful for that. I think one thing that denominations are finding is that the theology of marriage is changing. In days past the relationship of God to Israel or Jesus to the Church was seen as a marriage where God/Jesus was the husband and lord and Israel/Church was the wife and obedient (love, honor, and obey). Now with marriage often being seen as between equals, how does that change Christianity?

  11. Knockgoats permalink
    January 22, 2010 4:57 am

    If you are referring to me, Tomato Addict, I am no troll, as Jon has agreed: a troll comes uninvited, and makes no coherent arguments. I was invited, and have made detailed and well-documented arguments.

  12. Jerome permalink
    January 22, 2010 10:51 am

    I’m glad that you are feeling better, Jonathan.

    I still think that examining the issue from all angles, especially from those who are directly affected by it, would be an enlightening experience, but I understand being busy, as I disappeared after that comment buried in work myself for a couple of days.

    As you know, since there’s no evidence for an afterlife, seeing people be adversely affected in this life, that barring brain-in-a-vat arguments we know for sure that we have, is what I and many (most?) other atheists find particularly repugnant about the position against gay marriage and equality. I wouldn’t put forward that it wasn’t your absolute right not to perform the ceremonies yourself, as was covered by Knockgoats and others previously, but it is the very position itself which, while perhaps fitting in with an apparently selective theology, is what causes the problem itself. And the testimony in this case previously mentioned, from several members directly affected by it, illustrating the very difference between civil unions/DP and actual marriage, drives right to the heart of the issue.

    Cheers, I hope you and your family stay well.

    P.S. Is the blogtv video going to be posted somewhere? Or has it, and I just missed it?

  13. thomas2026 permalink*
    January 22, 2010 10:56 am

    Ah, the blogtv thing. Honestly, I don’t think so. Ashley, the queen of the atheists here at Ohio State, would probably know more. She had all the equipment for the show and I’m not sure she recorded it. I just showed up. 🙂 If it gets posted, I’ll obviously link to it. But, you could also keep watch on Ashley’s V-blog.

  14. January 22, 2010 1:00 pm

    I haven’t been reading all the comments on this “debate” – so I’m not sure if this position has been expressed a hundred times already but:

    I support completely equal rights for gay people under the law, but I certainly don’t think that anyone should have to agree with it personally. Honestly, I do not care about anyone believing anything is wrong… homosexuality, drinking alcohol, eating shellfish… whatever. I only have a problem if they try to make it the LAW. There are plenty of things which I disagree with which I don’t think should be illegal.

    So I see no serious moral problem with Jonathan’s position, and I can imagine that it’s possible to disapprove of someone’s lifestyle without HATING them. I don’t see any reason to disapprove of a homosexual lifestyle, but shouldn’t equal rights be the priority here, not policing others’ feelings on the matter? But perhaps I’m being pragmatic and unrealistic at the same time, because most people probably vote based on how they FEEL about something…

  15. AdamK permalink
    January 22, 2010 4:28 pm

    A person’s sexuality isn’t a “lifestyle.” What a perfectly crappy word, and misused to boot.

    The issue isn’t necessarily a “moral problem with Jonathan’s position,” unless you think that discriminating against a group of people for no damn reason is immoral. Jon’s free to dislike anybody he wants; but to then claim he “loves” them is doublespeak.

    Not that it would be the first time christians have misappropriated the word “love” and redefined it to flatter and excuse themselves.

  16. Knockgoats permalink
    January 22, 2010 6:00 pm


    Well after all, they claim their god loves us – but that if we don’t love him back, he’ll torture us forever. An abusive parent if ever there was one!

  17. January 22, 2010 6:48 pm

    Sorry AdamK, for using that “lifestyle” word, but I was in fact trying to use it correctly. I did not intend to use it to mean sexuality. As we know, there are plenty of homosexual people living a heterosexual lifestyle. Jonathan explicitly stated that he does NOT disapprove of someone’s sexuality. In fact, he hasn’t really said anything on whether or not he disapproves of a homosexual lifestyle (by which I mean actively participating in homosexual relationships) – I’ll try not to put words in his mouth, but his point seemed only to apply to the Christian definition of a “marriage.”

    Now, I would agree that asking someone who is homosexual (their sexuality from birth) to NOT engage in a homosexual “lifestyle” is completely unreasonable. I don’t think they can be separated that way, which is probably your argument.

  18. Knockgoats permalink
    January 23, 2010 7:20 am


    Jonathan explicitly stated that he does NOT disapprove of someone’s sexuality.

    Where? He has said gays are “wrong in regard to sexual orientation”. If that wasn’t intended to express disapproval of their sexuality, what was it supposed to mean?

  19. AdamK permalink
    January 23, 2010 9:30 am

    MP — Who brought up “homosexual people living a heterosexual lifestyle”? I didn’t see this discussed anywhere in these comments, but perhaps I missed it.

    Does anybody believe it’s a good idea? I believe the term for it is “lying”. I don’t think that’s one of those wonderful christian values, but perhaps I’m out of the loop.

    Usually christians advocate gay people living celebate, lonely lives of quiet shame, in keeping with the cruel christian hostility toward sex. They provide no appoved alternative, at least. (Except for the really psychotic christians who advocate psychological torture to “change” gay people. I haven’t seen anyone around here go to that extreme.)

    Jon has been very, very careful to avoid saying what he thinks gay people should do, only that he wouldn’t marry them if he had a church. He said something very slippery about how people are capable of choice, but avoided saying what he thinks that choice should be. Perhaps he’ll get around to it some day, just as soon as he’s done writing his books and raising his children.

    But I don’t think he’ll advocate “homosexual people living a heterosexual lifestyle.”

    I still think “lifestyle” is an ugly word that is used to trivialize something profoundly important about a person. Who one falls in love with is a little more important than whether one bikes to work, eats meat, or prefers california shades to venetian blinds.

  20. AdamK permalink
    January 23, 2010 11:46 am


    Some of them appear to claim that he won’t torture us forever — that’s just a metaphor, dontcha know — but rather snuff us out entirely. Being merciful and all. It’s hard to pin it down, since they all seem to believe different things.

  21. Knockgoats permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:17 pm


    Yes, I know, but the language of the NT seems pretty clear: “everlasting fire” gets a mention. It’s certainly what most Christians have historically believed – that some of them now balk at it just shows, I think:
    1) That despite their claims, they do not take their morality from the Bible.
    2) That many Christians are much better than their religion.

  22. Knockgoats permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:17 pm

    Ach – didn’t mean to talk to myself there – I was addressing AdamK.

  23. AdamK permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:43 pm

    That you address me with your own honorable name is nothing if not a compliment, good fellow.

  24. AdamK permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:47 pm

    Maybe the fire is everlasting because it keeps getting fueled with the combusible souls of brand new atheists, homosexuals, negro savages, wanton women, infidel Musselmen, and the like, but each individual faggot is consumed entirely.

  25. AdamK permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:49 pm

    Oh, and Papists. Nothing gets hell’s hearth warmed up on a cold winter morning better than a few well-dried Papist souls.

  26. AdamK permalink
    January 23, 2010 12:51 pm

    And Jews. And witches. And people who don’t tithe properly. And foreigners. And those who cut you off in traffic. And fornicators. No wonder it’s everlasting.

  27. Knockgoats permalink
    January 23, 2010 1:09 pm

    I thought hellfire was magical – it burns (hence, gives off heat) but does not consume its fuel. If only we could get hold of some! There’s the problems of climate change and peak oil solved!

  28. Richard Eis permalink
    January 23, 2010 3:36 pm

    but each individual faggot is consumed entirely.

    This collection of sticks thinks that was very droll.

    And Jews. And witches. And people who don’t tithe properly. And foreigners. And those who cut you off in traffic. And fornicators. No wonder it’s everlasting.

    Hellfire (I have noticed) is for every person that the person talking about hellfire doesn’t like. I also notice (apart from when they are being faux humble) that the fire and brimstone christian never thinks “they” will end up there.

    A magically metaphorical place indeed.

  29. AdamK permalink
    January 23, 2010 4:38 pm

    I thought hellfire was magical – it burns (hence, gives off heat) but does not consume its fuel.

    I don’t think the dude with the Burning Bush would appreciate you calling it “hellfire.” Or maybe that was Satan after all.

  30. sidhra كلبة permalink
    January 24, 2010 1:00 am

    I don’t think the dude with the Burning Bush would appreciate you calling it “hellfire.” Or maybe that was Satan after all.

    No, that was some guy from Nigeria.

  31. January 31, 2010 12:45 pm

    I guess I shouldn’t have stumbled into this without catching up on the whole discussion up to this point.

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