What is Secular Privilege? Here are 10 Everyday Examples

When trying to better understand what white privilege is supposed to be, I discovered a series of articles that help by providing concrete examples, such as What Is White Privilege? Here Are 9 Everyday Examples by Suzannah Weiss.   As I was reading through these, it occurred to me that the social justice movement has been suspiciously silent about a another form of privilege that may be just as extensive  – secular privilege.

Let me use the first seven examples of white privilege  from the Weiss article to show they could just as well represent examples of secular privilege (it would help to read that article before this one).   I’ll start by again quoting Weiss, with a few word changes, and quote her examples with the appropriate word changes.   I will then add three more examples of my own.

Let’s begin.

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Academia as Confirmation Bias

As you probably know, it is not uncommon for an atheist to cite some survey which shows  that atheism is positively correlated with a college education. This is supposed to support the subtle narrative that since intelligence and education are correlated with atheism, God does not exist. After all, if God did exist, wouldn’t highly intelligent and educated people be among the first to figure this out?

But why assume a true education has occurred simply because someone has had a college education?  Could it be possible that most of the “education” that occurs on a university campus is a carefully filtered distillation of reality such that it is more akin to indoctrination?  After all, if a form of secular, a-theistic indoctrination occurs on most campuses, of course such a positive correlation exists.  And given that professors and scientists require a college education to become professors and scientists, we would predict that compared to non-college educated people, more professors and scientists would be atheists.  This would then set up a positive feedback loop to perpetuate and expand the indoctrination, stealthily portrayed as “education” to the wider public.

So is this happening?  While I can’t say for sure, the hypothesis becomes more plausible when we note that indoctrination does occur in the universities.

Robert Boyer, a professor of English at Skidmore College, wrote an excellent essay for the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, The Academy’s Assault on Intellectual Diversity.”  While Boyer doesn’t address the issue of atheistic indoctrination, he does help illustrate that the university setting has become a culture of indoctrination.  Consider some excerpts:

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Getting Harder to Hide to Partisan Agendas Behind the “March for Science”

Poor Jerry Coyne.  The atheist activist is struggling mightily about the March for Science.  He wants to attend the march, although he doesn’t know what it is supposed to accomplish.  But he’s having a hard time closing his eyes to the fact that the March for Science is a March for Post-Modernism and Identity Politics.  As I pointed out back in early February, the March for Science is The Extreme Left’s Trojan Horse.  It’s a way for the post-modernist activists to a) cloak their agenda with the cultural authority of science while b) extending their tentacles into the scientific community itself.  It’s a double win for them.

Coyne’s struggles seem to revolve around two things.   First, there is a story by STAT News circulating around the internet that documents some of the infighting among the activists.  Predictably, it’s the social justice warriors asserting more control over the march that is causing the problems.  Interestingly enough, the March for Science FB page has completely ignored the STAT story.  Apparently, while the MfS organizers have pledged to strengthen the bonds of mutual respect and communication between scientists and the public while opposing any attempt to censor the sharing of data, the MfS people aren’t too keen on the public knowing the data about their internal infighting.

Secondly, Coyne’s upset about the new Anti-Harassment Policy for Online Platforms found on the MfS webpage.  Here’s part of it:

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Posted in activism, March for Science, post-modernism, Science, Social Justice, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Jordan Peterson – Beyond Marxism & Postmodernism

I really enjoyed this video.  If you are pressed for time, you can begin at about 6 min in.

Posted in Jordan Peterson, post-modernism, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Facts vs. Narrative

Never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.  At least as far as activists go, that is. A nice example of this is atheist activist Hemant Mehta.  He recently posted a blog entry entitled, A Pennsylvania Mother Assaulted Her Daughter For Not Regurgitating Bible Verses Correctly.  Mehta informs us, “This is your daily reminder that holy books can be a cause for abuse just as much as it can bring people comfort.”  In other words, the activists daily dose of confirmation bias and sloppy thinking.

He then quotes an excerpt from this disturbing story:

Shoffner became enraged and yelled at the victim, telling her “to get on her (expletive) knees,” police said.

The girl complied, and Shoffner began quoting Bible verses, expecting the victim to repeat the lines verbatim, according to police.

Shoffner asked her daughter, “What did God tell the man to do with his son?”

When the girl said she did not know, her mother said, “God told the man to kill his son.”

Instead, the victim said, “God said to forgive his son,” and Shoffner grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head into the wall, police said.

Each time the girl incorrectly recited a verse or gave her mother a wrong answer, Shoffner slammed her head into the wall, police said. Shoffner slammed her daughter’s head into the bathroom drywall at least five times, according to police. [emphasis added by Mehta so you don’t miss the narrative]

While you are supposed to get the impression that this is some hyper-fundamentalist Christian going way overboard on their religiosity training with this selective quote, check out what Mehta carefully omitted from the story:

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The Harris-Peterson Podcast

Sam Harris does a two hour podcast with Jordan Peterson after getting a flood of requests for such a show from his listeners.  In fact, Harris tells us

“I’d received more listener requests for him than for Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Edward Snowden—or, indeed, any other person on earth.”

This is understandable.  Peterson has become something of a rock star because he is a very intelligent man who firmly stands his ground in his disputes with the PC police.  I would imagine that many of Sam’s listeners thought it would be great to hear Harris and Peterson tag team on this whole issue of political correctness, an issue that is always in the news.  Maybe the two them together, swapping war stories, will come up with some really stinging criticisms.

But what did they get?  Harris begins the talk by making it clear he is not all that interested in talking about the PC issues.  He claims they would be in agreement so there would not be much to say.  Are you kidding me? The thing that has people excited about Peterson makes Sam yawn?   I am under the impression that most of Harris’s podcasts that interview people involve lots and lots of agreements between Sam and his guest.  Why is this so different?  After letting Peterson do most of the talking in the first 10 minutes about the PC issues, Sam wants to talk about areas of disagreement.  And from there, they spend a whole hour and fifty minutes debating……….the meaning of truth from a pragmatist vs. realist perspective.


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Sam Harris acknowledges “a kind of miracle.”

In his discussion with Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris makes a very interesting point at 38:45:

There is just the fact that within the Darwinian conception of how we got here, there’s no reason to believe that our cognitive faculties have evolved to put us in error free contact with reality. That’s not how they evolved. We did not evolve to be perfect mathematicians, or perfect logical operators, or perfect conceivers of scientific reality at the very small subatomic level or the very large cosmic level or the very old cosmological level. We are designed, by the happenstance of evolution, to function within a very narrow band of light intensities and physical parameters. The things we are designed to do very well are to recognize the facial expressions of apes just like ourselves and to throw objects in parabolic arcs within 100 meters and all of that. The fact that we are able to succeed to the degree that we have been in creating a vision of scientific truth and structure of the cosmos at large, that radically exceeds those narrow parameters, that is a kind of miracle. It’s an amazing fact about us that seems not to be true, remotely true, of any other species we know about.

As an evolutionist, I could not agree more with everything Harris says.

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The Social Justice Movement and Christians: A Comparison

We have seen how SocJus, an secular religion, behaves when they become aware of dissenting views being expressed in their midst (here and here).  Let’s compare their behavior to how Christians have behaved in a similar setting.

The year is 2006.  Richard Dawkins had just published his book, The God Delusion and received all sorts of media attention as it became a best seller.  From the Christian perspective, the book is offensive.   Dawkins’ interpretation of God and scripture is, shall we say, not all that charitable.  What’s more, the title of the book itself labels Christians (and other theists) as mentally ill – suffering from a delusion.  And even worse, Dawkins has a chapter in the book arguing that it is better for a child to be sexually molested than raised as a Catholic.  He even approvingly quotes a friend in academia who argues that the one place free speech should be taken away is when it comes to parents teaching their children religion: “So we should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible, or that the planets rule their lives, than we should allow parents to knock their children’s teeth out or lock them in a dungeon.”

Dawkins went on a book tour, appearing before various audiences to read excerpts from The God Delusion.  One such place was Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, a Methodist-affiliated liberal arts college located in Lynchburg, VA.  And as most of you probably know, Lynchburg is home to Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and Liberty University.  In fact, it was reported that a busload of Liberty U. students went to Dawkins’ speech.

So the analogy between this speech and the Charles Murray speech and Jordan Peterson speech is strong.  In all cases, a controversial speaker came to a campus to give a talk that many people would find offensive (for their own particular reasons).  So how do the receptions and reactions compare?

Spoiler alert – there is a vast difference.  [Video’s of the talk, along with the following Q&A, are posted at the end of this blog entry.]

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Posted in activism, Christianity, Religion, Richard Dawkins, Social Justice | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Another day, another SocJus Ritual

It’s in a different country (Canada), at a different university (McMaster Univerisity), and involves a different speaker (psychologist Jordan Peterson).  Here is Peterson’s description from YouTube:

All this video from the “panel discussion” at McMaster University Friday March 17th 2017. Three other panel members dropped out because of controversy and harassment. Then the moderator also dropped out. Overcome The Gap (OTG), the McMaster club who hosted me went forward courageously with the talk, despite experiencing substantial pressure to cancel. They did their best to regulate the event, but the protestors entered the room before the event technically started.

The video opens with protestors chanting their various chants. Then, for about 45 minutes, I try to speak inside the venue. The fire marshalls have to close the talk because the protestors won’t leave, and are blocking the fire exits. So we go outside, where I spoke for about 40 more minutes, with a ring of students surrounding me, and the protestors at the periphery. This section begins with a short video of the protestors, switches to my talk, and ends with a long shot of the outside crowd (and some closing photos).

Despite the differences, note the striking similarities in this ritual compared to the one at Middlebury College.   Once again, dozens of very young devotees show up at a speech to “protest.”  They immediately disrupt it with chanting in unison.  Interestingly enough, this ritual adds percussion instruments.  Such instruments have a long history of being used in religious rituals.  As they shout their incantation-like chants, the purpose is to “shut down” the speech from the Evil One. It’s something akin to a secular exorcism.

What’s striking about the SocJus religion is their smug sense of moral superiority is so heightened that they feel some sort of Moral Obligation to impose their values on others through brute, collective action.  Clearly, many people in the audience were there to hear the talk, but the SocJus cultists were there to deny them that opportunity.  In their minds, their right to protest took precedence over the speaker’s right to speak and the audience’s right to hear the speech.

BTW, is anyone surprised that a student communist organization was part of the ritual?  Communism, after all,  is humanity’s most bloody religion.

Anyway, you can watch the ritual for yourself below the fold.

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Posted in academia, activism, Religion, Social Justice, social justice atheism | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Social Justice Atheist Tries to Explain Why Intersectionality is not a Cult

Over at the Friendly Atheist blog, Lauren Nelson, the atheist activist who thought Madalyn Murray O’Hair was murdered for her atheism,  tries to refute Andrew Sullivan’s observations about the religious aspects of intersectionality.

Let’s have a look.

Nelson writes:

He’s absolutely wrong.  For starters, let’s be clear on what intersectionality is.  Rooted in cultural studies, intersectionality contends that oppression is complex, with different attributes in one’s identity often compounding experiences in oppression.

Let’s compare to Sullivan’s description:

“Intersectionality” is the latest academic craze sweeping the American academy. On the surface, it’s a recent neo-Marxist theory that argues that social oppression does not simply apply to single categories of identity — such as race, gender, sexual orientation, class, etc. — but to all of them in an interlocking system of hierarchy and power.

Okay, so it turns out Sullivan’s description was accurate.  “Cultural studies” stems from academia and, according to Wiki, has been influenced by Marxism from the start:

Cultural studies combines a variety of politically engaged critical approaches drawn from and including semiotics, Marxism, feminist theory, ethnography, critical race theory, poststructuralism, postcolonialism……As noted above, Marxism has played an important originating role as being one of the first critiques of Culture – and has hence been reflected in the history of cultural studies.

So far Sullivan and Nelson are in agreement.   What I would note then is that intersectionality is saturated with subjectivity.  Trying to determine whether or not a true example of oppression exists, while being truly connected to “identity,” is ultimately a subjective judgment call that entails emotions.  But to expand that emotional judgment call into the realm of multiple instances of “oppression,” all connected different identities in the same body,” is to amplify the subjectivity.  It is subjectivity to the nth power, where n = the number of “identities.”

Nelson then tries to give us a concrete example

For instance, as a woman, I have experienced sexism in the workplace and in interpersonal relationships. As a neurodiverse woman, I have also been discriminated against because my brain is wired differently than other people’s. But as a white woman, I have not experienced racism. A black woman who is neurodiverse will most likely have experienced far more discrimination than I have.

Like I said, subjectivity.  Nelson “experienced” something that she interpreted as “sexism” and “discrimination.”  But one has to wonder how many of these experiences are false positives.   After all, Nelson is an activist and such social justice advocates receive activist street cred the more they are oppressed.   Look, I do not doubt that Nelson feels as if she has been victimized in such ways,  but they are ultimately feelings and subjective experiences that actually strengthen the analogy to religion.  For just as many religious believers will root their faith in their religious experiences, Nelson roots her crusade in her oppression experiences.

So Nelson’s first point is nothing more than an intersectionality activist trying to spin intersectionality in a  positive and neutral fashion.  Yet it does not contradict or challenge any of Sullivan’s points.

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Posted in activism, Religion, social justice atheism | Tagged , , | 6 Comments