God Is Not Great

The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.

Such is the sort of quote you’ll find in the book that shares its title with the name of this post. At the end of the day, no matter how you feel about religion you really have to admit that the statement is true. The sentiment of the religion you follow may be there, but the doctrine described in the book is far from what we’d call ethical behaviour these days and incredibly far from the accepted Christian thing to do. The writers did their best and described the most moral way to do things in their own time but the fact of the matter is that they were crude and uncultured compared to human beings today and their ideas of the good way to do things can come across as pretty horrific. As an example – it’s all very well giving a guide on how best to treat your slaves but when you accept that everyone will likely have slaves, you’re kind of missing the point.

That’s my opinion, and yours may differ. That’s fine as this isn’t what this is actually about. This post is about Twitter in general and trending topics particularly. If you’re unfamiliar with Twitter (and I know at least a few of my named regulars are) then you’ll need a little explanation before this gets to the point. Twitter is a service where users have 140 characters to communicate with the world. With such a limited space the users have had to come up with some inventive ways to save space and categorise their posts. One such idea is the hashtag where someone types a small description after the hash symbol and that is used to tag the post and make it easier to search for. As an example of this, this post is tagged as “news” and “editorial” in this service so in Twitter I’d add “#news” and “#editorial” at the end of the post and everyone would know it’s a news article and an opinion piece. The second thing you’ll need to know about Twitter is that sometimes the same hashtags are used quite often and that the service has a way for people to find popular topics – Trending Topics. These are the top ten most used hashtags and allow people to talk about the hottest conversation pieces. As a conversation starter it’s a great idea, at least until you see what sort of thing is normally popular.

Which brings us to the current time and the actual point of this post, the hashtag “#godisnotgreat” and how it has been treated. At first used only by the author to help publicise his book and then by readers of it, the tag has evolved somewhat as militant atheists have taken it over. These are the sort who have taken the ideas of organised religion to a degree and refuse to allow people to be happy with their own religious choices. You just know these people have been faced with militant religion for so long that this is the only way they know how to be and don’t see that they’re making the exact same mistakes. As expected, the tag started to rile Christians with its popularity. Such Christian messages as “I’m going to kill whoever started this hastag” and “I hope God kills you for this” started flying across Twitter and the Christian outrage at the tag combined with complaints sent to the site was such that Twitter had no choice but to pull the tag down from the Trending Topics. No matter how popular this tag gets again it wont show up there as it is just too hot a topic and upsets too many people.

There are no words…


Meanwhile, at the time of writing this post, “#ReasonsToBeatYourGirlfriend” was still one of the top worldwide trending topics. Spousal abuse, a problem that millions of men and women suffer with every single day, a problem that leads to so many deaths every year throughout the world, doesn’t really raise any alarm at all. Not enough complaints have been put in about that one and not enough people have been upset by the topic for it to be removed. This is the world we live in folks where the right to believe something without anyone disagreeing with you is more important than the right of others to live without physical violence.

Update

The backlash on Twitter, caused mainly by the removal of #godisnotgreat while #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend remained has actually caused the tag to be removed. The internet (and despite my recent outage I’m included in this) has no problem moving its ass to accuse someone of hypocrisy, yet wouldn’t get up to complain that the topic exists in the first place.

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14 thoughts on “God Is Not Great

  1. Do Twitter users even realise that this "trending" thing is just another way of letting someone else tell you what to think? 🙄 .

  2. Yeah, thats humanity for you. People don't bother with removing something bad until people start to complain. And I don't really think that (enough) people will start to complain about "reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend" is because such things don't happen close enough to that much people. So until people get in touch with something like that, they won't care, and it will just be a joke for the ignorant and for the people who actually beat ther girlfriend…(On a side note, the title of this article reminded me of a question I asked my parents once when I was small: "If Jesus floats above the highway, is he allowed to go faster then the police?" One could change this question to: if god/jesus was on earth, would he be allowed to break our laws?)

  3. The answer is supposedly yes, in a way, God can break laws because he created the world and his word is the one that counts. A byproduct of this view is that the laws themselves would change to fit God's actions so that he didn't really break the law so much as demonstrate it was wrong. The same thing applies to the Pope with Papal Infallibility, so the Pope can do what he wants (covering up those child molestations for example) and it automatically becomes the hand and will of God.

  4. Interesting article and very good explanation where social tagging may lead. I come from world of libraries and there the dilemma has been whether one should allow customers to describe the contents in databases instead of sticking into old system where librarians do that as "gods of libraries". Except on Twitter is seem to turn the other way round. Peeps start to define all kinds of contents for popular tag.

  5. Facebook 'till recently refused to take down a page of rape jokes, whereas a breast cancer page was beyond the pale. Who are these people, and why do we share a planet with them?

  6. Originally posted by garlingmatthews:

    Who are these people, and why do we share a planet with them?

    They're anyone you pass in the street once given the anonymity that the web provides and imagining that this removes all moral and ethical limits from them. Power, even that which is imagined by the wielder, corrupts.Originally posted by serola:

    the dilemma has been whether one should allow customers to describe the contents in databases instead of sticking into old system where librarians do that

    Personally I believe that either system is doomed to failure and that a mixture of both is the only way forwards. An official categorisation set by the librarians or those higher up in the business that also allows for optional social tags and reviews to be added by readers themselves. Tie the reviews and tags to the library account system and don't be afraid to punish readers who abuse the system and it could well work.Originally posted by KYren:

    Reasons to beat your girlfriend x god is not great. It's a juxtaposition.

    It depends on your viewpoint. One does not lead to the other and one is not a result of the other, they are merely things that were talked about in the same period of time. One could say that reasons to beat your girlfriend and women drivers are awful is a juxtaposition, but they are merely unrelated things that could be placed together and possibly seem related.

  7. Originally posted by qlue:

    Do Twitter users even realise that this "trending" thing is just another way of letting someone else tell you what to think?

    :eyes: I'm far too impressionable.

  8. – Father, I want to confess…- What, you don't have Twitter?This is a joke I've heard few days ago from one of my friends from Serbia. Even though it is a joke, it just shows the impact such services make on everyday living.Not to mention that some people use Twitter and FB to express their inner feelings and thoughts to everyone and I won't be surprised if someone is confessing there, too.

  9. So a "militant atheist" posts #godisnotgreat on Twitter, and you compare that to a militant religious person who kills people??? I mean, you claim that these "militant atheists" are making the same mistakes as the militant religious zealots who actually kill people.I'm not sure why you are using the word "militant" for something as peaceful as using mere words to criticize religion… Isn't that kind of an insult to the victims of militant religious zealots who have been physically harmed (killed)?

  10. Originally posted by qlue:

    (note: the dictionary also shows that it is predominantly a term use by and of the Church. )

    And lesbians. :up:

  11. You're mixing the meaning of militant with military. In this particular case the mistakes made were to try and force your views onto another person as if they have no right to any other viewpoint. Atheists, myself included, are no better or worse than religious people, just different.

  12. @Chirpie, the term 'millitant' does not originally mean to fight in a war. It derives from the word 'militate' which means, 'to argue against'. (like a soldier) The etymonlogy shows that it is from the Latin word for 'soldier'. :up: .(note: the dictionary also shows that it is predominantly a term use by and of the Church. :whistle: )

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