Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"inner male conflict"

Sometimes, being a male feminist poses certain . . . challenges, I guess we'll call them. Let me say up front, though, that I'm not complaining about these challenges. This is me just trying to work through some of it, thinking out loud, as it were. It's also me taking a friend's suggestion, who suggested that I write about this. What is this? Well, my friend (a woman, if it matters) called it my "inner male conflict," in which I want to avoid objectifying women, but my "primal nature" is hard to fight. You can guess what this is about, can't you?

It's about ogling women. It's a very tempting thing to do--at the mall, at parties, on tv, wherever. It's also an objectifying thing to do, as it reduces the woman being ogled to a mere object for sexual appreciation. Which is where the conflict comes in. Women deserve my respect, not my objectification.

Now, let me head off some MRA and/or Christian fundamentalist bullshit right away: this problem isn't on the women's side. No matter how skimpy the outfit they're wearing, no matter how tight the yoga pants, or no matter whether they're naked (as happens at some parties I occasionally get to go to), it's not a woman's responsibility to avoid my ogling. Despite what some would have you think, women are not responsible for the thoughts or emotions that looking at them generates, anymore than I'm responsible for the thoughts or emotions that looking at me generates. It's the responsibility of the one doing the looking to exercise some self-control and restraint. Nothing I say here should be taken as an endorsement of anything else.

But wow, can that be hard. The curve of a buttock, a well shaped calf, a hint of cleavage, the nape of a neck, lips . . . all these things and more draw the eye, and I want to look. I want to stare. I want to let my eyes feast on the view as if they've never seen a woman before. It doesn't seem to matter what kind of mood I'm in--good, bad, depressed, excited, horny, not horny, etc-- it's almost reflexive to look.

However, I also happen to respect women as actual people, and actual people are not mere objects for me to sexually admire. People have hopes and fears, good days and bad days, thoughts and opinions. People have favorite colors, foods, music, movies, and books. People run the gamut from asexual to hyper-sexual. People also run a gamut as to how much they mind being ogled. Myself, I have no idea what it's like to be ogled, as I've never caught anyone ogling me, so I have to go by what I'm told.

And what I'm told most often, via blogs, comments, video, etc, is that women generally don't like being ogled. They don't want to be stared at as they're grocery shopping, going to lunch, walking down the street, checking out books at the library, and so on and so forth. They don't want to be looked at as less than people, as objects. I want to respect that in action as well as word.

So, how do I handle this? Well, by doing my best to catch myself when I'm looking, and remind myself not to. I look away at those points. And I've also taken to, as soon as I catch myself, making a point to wonder what sort of person she is. What's she up to today? Is she optimistic, pessimistic, or would she call herself a realist? Are there indications in how she walks, dresses, or the things she's doing that give a suggestion of what sort of person she is? And so on.

In other words, I'm deliberately trying to see the woman as a person, and not just her looks. It's getting easier. Those questions are popping up faster, with less deliberate reminders on my part. And this is good.

But those "primal" instincts are still strong.

Sunday, February 23, 2014



Words have power, as I've discussed  before. Not in any supernatural sense, as they might have in various role playing games or fantasy novels, but rather in the psychological effects that they can have on us, good and bad. I'd like to examine a few of the words that are commonly used as slurs, and the harm they cause.

Before I get to specific words, let me be clear about a few things. If you use these words in a pejorative manner, I'm not saying you are necessarily a bad person. I am saying that you can be better (and so can I; I've worked on modifying my vocabulary to be in line with the views I express here, but sometimes I slip up). You probably do not intend to cause anyone to be upset, or to cause harm at all (except, maybe, to the specific individual person you're insulting). But there's a phrase that gets used frequently in discussions about these things, and that's "Intent is not magic."

If it's not obvious, I'll spell out what that means. It means that just because you don't intend to cause harm to someone, doesn't mean that harm disappears. If I step on someone's toes, and they yell "Ow!" because I hurt them, it's not my place to claim that they shouldn't care I caused them harm because, hey, I didn't intend to hurt them. No, the right thing to do is apologize, and resolve to be more careful in the future.

A stepped on toe is probably pretty minor, of course, and it's likely the pain will be gone quickly (although, they may have conditions that would result in the pain lasting a lot longer, such as weakened bones or something). And they'll likely forgive me. But what if I did it consistently? What if I was constantly stepping on people's toes, even after hearing the "ow"? At this point, I would suggest that the fact I'm not taking more care to avoid it means that I either don't care that I'm hurting people (despite any apologies I make in the moment), or that I actually want to hurt these people. Neither option says anything good about me, and in fact, says something downright bad about me.

So, when we use certain words or phrases in a pejorative manner, the mere fact that we don't (hopefully) intend to hurt someone with that usage doesn't mean we haven't hurt them. This is something we need to acknowledge, and be aware of.

Now, of course, there will be times that it's unavoidable that we will offend or hurt someone with our speech or expression. There are people who get offended when someone (like myself) expresses support for using government funds to assist the less fortunate, or supports LGBTQ equality, or speaks out against the notion of a "Christian nation." And some men appear to get offended by any woman who dares to speak up for themselves at all. These sorts of things are not the kind of harm I'm talking about. I'm ok if a bigot gets offended by being called a bigot. I can hope that they will reflect on why someone might consider them a bigot, and what they can and should do to change that perception. I have my doubts that will happen, but depending on the individual, I can still have hope. I don't think it would be possible for humanity to function well if we constantly tried to avoid offending everyone.

But as I said, there are certain words or phrases that cause hurt that aren't of the sort that need to be said. One that actually gets to me on a personal level is when "gay" is used as a pejorative, as in "That's so gay!" (NOT "That's so Takei"). I'm bisexual, not gay, but nonetheless, when I hear "gay" used negatively, it causes some twinges. What I hear is that the part of me that's into guys is bad, merely by it's existence. It's gross. It's disgusting. It's weak. It's sneer worthy. And because this is a part of me that cannot be changed (nor would I wish it to), then by extension, I am all of those things.

It's worse when I hear it from those who claim to support equality for the LGBTQ community, who claim that it doesn't bother them, that they're fine with it, etc. People who claim they're allies. Hearing it from right wing fundamentalists is something I expect, and can be hardened to. Hearing it from those who supposedly support equality? Not so easy.

Now, I realize that generally speaking, such people aren't intending to cause me offense, and would probably claim that it's the furthest thing from their mind. It's might even be true. But if they were to keep doing it after being told that it does cause offense, then their protests can hardly matter. It says something about how they implicitly view those who are gay, bisexual, or any other orientation besides straight -- as gross, disgusting, weak, and sneer worthy. It may even indicate how they feel about the genderqueer or trans* community. And if they wish to view themselves as allies in the quest for equity, then why would they wish to give that impression?

Then we get to gendered slurs: bitch, cunt, dick, prick, etc. Basically any word that has a distinct gender associated with it and is used pejoratively, though, in our historically patriarchal culture, the ones referencing women tend to come across as worse in intent and meaning. Words like "bitch" and "cunt" being used as slurs is implicitly and inherently sexist. A word like bitch, seeing as it's targeted at women (since one of its literal meanings is "female dog"), implies that the speaker sees not just one particular woman as mean, cruel, overly aggressive (which would probably be just called "assertive" in a man), etc, but that at some level women in general are mean, cruel, overly aggressive, etc.

"But it can be used to refer to men too!" Yes, and consider the context. When used to refer to men, there's still a sense of "feminine" qualities, but specifically, it's used to refer to men who are seen as weak or subservient. "Bitch slap." "He's totally his bitch." And so on. It acts as a comparison to qualities that women are seen as having, and that "real men" don't have. Which is flat out sexist.

"Cunt" acts in basically the same way, although I frequently hear more contempt in it's usage than I do with "bitch." It takes a single part of a woman's anatomy, twists it into something negative, and then equates the entirety of the woman (or occasional man) to this one thing. Again, sexist. (For more, please see this post by Jen McCreight, and this comment on that post)

The slurs that generally refer to men, and are used almost exclusively against men, like "dick" or "prick," I realize usually don't come across as being as bad as the likes of "bitch" and "cunt." This it seems is likely related to the same implicit sexism that allows bitch/cunt to have the power to insult that they do. Women and womanly qualities (or perceived qualities, anyway) are seen as worse than "real man" qualities, even when such "manly" qualities are seen as worthy of insult. So, being mean, cruel, petty, or overly aggressive, and thus a "dick," just isn't seen as bad as being the exact same thing if you're a woman. There's also a historical aspect, as our culture is one that has long had a great deal of sexism inherent within it. It's improved, sure, but there's still a ways to go. All of us are influenced by the culture we grow up in, whether we like it or not, and it's up to us to consider whether all of that influence has been positive, and act accordingly.

*A note of gratitude to the feminist bloggers and commenters that have helped me develop these thoughts over the past few years, including Jen McCreight, Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson, and I'm sure others whom I can't think of, or whose name I never caught. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Apparently, God doesn't care about fairness

Or at least, that's what Pat Robertson seems to imply in this video. Right Wing Watch found this clip of Robertson answering a question concerning homosexuality and sin. The Friendly Atheist blog already dealt with him saying that it's okay to have "tendencies" (but not follow them), and that marriage is for procreation, but there were some other comments that jumped out at me.

At about the 0:50 minute mark, he says

Now, it isn't for us to tell God what's fair and isn't fair. He set it up this way, and this is the way he wants it. And I think that we that could form [conform? it's unclear]. . . he holds all the cards. He's the one that decides who goes and who doesn't. And so, don't say he's unfair. And these people are nice, and they they they [sic] go to church and all this kind stuff, but they're out there doing something and God says "Wrong!" It's wrong. And so, when he says it's wrong, it's wrong. That's it, period, end of story.
So, if I understand Robertson here, it doesn't matter if what God says is fair or not, because he's bigger than us, and decides who goes to hell and who doesn't. Don't question why, because God said so, "end of story." Thus, it's not so much that God's commands are just or ethical or moral, he's just the one that's got all the power. He's a tyrant.

If I'm wrong, and God exists, then I've got the same salute for him that I would have for any tyrant. Can you guess what it is?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Friends and Family and Relatives

I have found throughout the years that there seems be a difference between friends, family, relatives, and acquaintances. Some of my views are likely uncontroversial, while others might raise an eyebrow or two.

Let's start with acquaintances. Acquaintances are people that I only know slightly. Generally speaking, I'm likely to be on good terms with those I consider as acquaintances, and have no ill will toward them, but I'm not close to them, and would be hesitant to be totally open with them about certain things. I may still get together with them on occasion, or in some cases on a regular basis, and will likely have fun when I do, but I don't consider them actual friends (yet--that could change, obviously).

Relatives are simply those who are related by blood, or by marriage. Let me take an easy example: my biological father. I've never met the guy. I know a few things about him from my mother, but he's never been a part of my life in any real way. We're related by blood, but I have no familial feelings toward him. Were we to meet, that relation would not, in my view, obligate either of us to behave in any particular way, or to feel any particular emotion. 

Sometimes in books and movies we see people who have found their long lost father, mother, or sibling. Sometimes they end up having to make some kind of choice involving that person, and there may be a line along the theme of "but they're my father/brother/mother/sister/etc," with the clear implication that this fact alone obligates a person to some amount of fealty (even if this requires violating ethics, as it sometimes does). But why should it? What about that genetic relationship implies that there should be any kind of loyalty or obligation?

To continue with my personal example, my biological father is not someone who has done any of the things one expects of a father who raises his children (through no fault of his own, as he didn't know about me). He never taught me, fed me, clothed me, scolded me, sheltered me, or loved me (kinda hard to love someone you don't know about). If you know your father, if your father was involved in you growing up, then take all that out, good or bad, and that is where I'm coming from. Had any of those things happened, then perhaps there could be an argument that I owed him something (unless the bad outweighed the good, such as if he'd been abusive), but without them, all I owe him is genetic material that he passed on in a single moment of orgasm. I don't see how that brings about a requirement of any sort of loyalty, especially if that were to cause conflict of some sort in my life, or require me to violate ethics or morality (which is frequently the case in those books or movies I mentioned). No one is owed such loyalty that they can ask for or demand a violation of ethics or morality.

Now, before I get to what I consider family, let me first consider what I see as friends. It's an ambiguous term, and not one that lends itself to an easy definition, but I shall attempt a basic description. Friendship denotes a certain degree of closeness, of commonality of mind. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're the same, but I don't think it can happen without certain shared values and interests. There is a shared mutual affection between friends, which they may or may not develop to a level of love. And of course trust is a necessary component. Without a degree of trust, I don't think one can call someone a friend. Being able to enjoy doing stuff together is a factor, but it's not a factor that can form a friendship on it's own. One requires the ability to open up with someone who could be a friend, and reveal more of the private self, as opposed to the public face that we generally show to the world. A lack of trust would undermine that ability.

The people I consider my friends are people with whom I share that trust and mutual affection. We generally have interests in common, which can form the basis of conversations as well as activities. But there is also a shared empathy, a willingness to at least try and understand the other person's point of view. It's not always possible to completely understand another's experience of life, but the empathetic attempt and caring is there.

And now for family. Family really has no connection to whether someone is a blood relative (as you might have guessed from my earlier discussion of relatives). Family is something that you choose, and that develops from specific friendships which have themselves gone from a basic friendship to a close friendship. Those I call family are those I would drop anything for in a time of need, and whom I trust implicitly. I'm willing to open up far more of my private self to someone I consider family, and am generally comfortable doing so. They've earned my loyalty and my trust, and my affection for them can most properly be called love. There's more to it than mere friendship.

Family is special. It's a choice, and because it's a choice, rather than an obligation that supposedly results from a close genetic connection, it means more--a lot more.

Note: While writing this, I came to realize that there are aspects I haven't necessarily thought through entirely, and thus the views expressed here are more likely to change than other views I've expressed on this blog. I welcome any comments, thoughts, ideas, or discussion.*

*Then again, all my views have a possibility for change as a matter of principle, and I always welcome comments and discussion.

Friday, February 7, 2014

SWTOR vs Guild Wars 2

Recently I've gotten back into playing a couple of games that I'd dropped for a while: Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR), and Guild Wars 2. Both are MMORPGs, and both have strengths and weaknesses that result in very different play experience.

Starting with SWTOR, the graphics are excellent. When you're fighting as a Jedi Knight or a Sith Warrior, you can see all the parries and strikes, and it does an excellent job of making you feel like you're actually fighting with a lightsaber. That's one of my favorite aspects of the gameplay: Force leaping into battle, and slashing foes apart with that distinctive lightsaber sound echoing in my ears. Guild Wars 2 doesn't really have anything to quite match that moment. Battling as a Republic Trooper, or really, any class other than the Force wielding classes, doesn't quite match that moment either. There's a great deal of standing around and shooting, with the occasional grenade toss. It's still fun of course, but it's not a lightsaber. The graphics of Guild Wars 2 are also pretty good, but I feel that the graphics for SWTOR are more detailed, and give a better feeling of action.

The gameplay in general is hard to compare. It's almost like the old cliche of apples and oranges. SWTOR has multiple abilities you gain as you level up, some of them only usable under specific trigger situations (such as an opponent being stunned). GW2 has fewer abilities to manage at any one time, and every ability can be used at any time, but some are more useful under specific situations. In SWTOR there is no active dodging, where you hit a button to deliberately dodge. In GW2, that becomes an important part of gameplay at higher levels, and even to extent at lower levels. And so on.

In truth, SWTOR has one big advantage: personal story and character development. Each class has it's own storyline that you go through as you play through the game. As you're playing, you get to make choices that determine whether you are, for instance, a Jedi who is basically a goody-goody willing to help out anyone in need without pay, or a Jedi that more than flirts with the Dark Side, demanding payment for services while being cruel to enemies. The basic outline of the story remains the same regardless, but you still end up feeling like there's an actual personality to your character, one that you've helped shape.

For example, take my Sith Warrior character. Early on in his story, I was making mostly Dark Side choices (there's a point system that tracks how much of the Light or Dark you have), but was still throwing in some Light Side choices. As time has gone on though, I've been making more Dark Side choices in conversations, resulting in him having a more bloodthirsty personality that always takes the most lethal option available. I've decided this is because of the growing influence of the Dark Side, as he lets his hatred flow.

Guild Wars 2 also has a personal story, based on your race, rather than your class. There are elements of the story that you get to choose when initially creating the character, but during the actual gameplay there's very little that allows you to develop your character's personality. My necromancer, for example, is one that I'd want to play kind of dark and gothic, but in the cutscenes for  her story she comes across as rather light, almost bubbly at times. There are no conversation choices to be made, thus I have no influence over her personality. There's supposed to be a mechanic that differentiates your character by giving one of three personality traits (Ferocity, Dignity, and Charm) that you can use in some conversations, but the impact of this seems to be. . . nothing, honestly. It doesn't seem to result in anything being different.

However, Guild Wars 2 has a big advantage over SWTOR in the form of just how socially friendly it encourages players to be with other players. In SWTOR, if I see another player in a difficult fight, I could jump in to try and help, but I'll get nothing for it. No experience, and no loot. In Guild Wars 2, I'll get just as much experience and loot as I would've had I done the fight alone, just as much as the other player gets. Both games have resource nodes that let you gather materials for the crafting systems, but in SWTOR if a player gets the materials, that node is then empty for a while. This makes it a competitive case of whoever gets there first wins. In GW2, there's no such competition, as gathering from a node leaves it empty for you, but not for other players. So it's cool to help out other players, and you don't have to feel a sense of competition with the other players (except in pvp, which I'm not gonna bother talking about).

So which game do I prefer? Frankly, it depends. It entirely depends on what I happen to be in the mood for on any particular day. These are just a few thoughts on comparisons between the games.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Answers to a few questions from creationists

Apparently there was a big debate on February 4th, between Bill Nye and Ken Ham. I haven't sat down to watch it yet (might not, either), but I saw a link on Facebook today from Buzzfeed, with the following title/subtitle. 
22 Messages From Creationists To People Who Believe In Evolution 
I asked 22 self-identifying creationists at the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate to write a message/question/note to the other side. Here’s what they wrote.
I looked through those messages, shown in pictures as handwritten messages with smiling faces above them, and couldn't believe how easy most of them were to answer. So, here's MY answers (any mistakes in the quotations are mine; since they were in pics, I couldn't simply copy/paste):

1. "Bill Nye, are you influencing the minds of children in a positive way?"
Yes, he is. He's teaching children and people about actual science, and the methods of critical thinking that go with it. That's an extremely positive influence.

2. "Are you scared of Divine Creator?"
No, why would I be?

3. "Is it completely illogical that the earth was created mature? i.e., trees created with rings . . .  Adam created as an adult . . ."
Why would it be? Assuming there's a creator god, why bother with the rings in the trees? But more importantly, what reason would you have for thinking that the earth was created "mature"? Without good reason to believe it, given that the evidence points an old earth, then it is, in fact, illogical.

4. "Does not the second law of thermodynamics disprove evolution?"
No. From Wikipedia:
The second law of thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases, because isolated systems spontaneously evolve toward thermodynamic equilibrium—the state of maximum entropy.
Earth, and the life on it, is not an isolated system. It's a system that continuously receives energy in the form of sunlight, and is thus not going to evolve to a thermodynamic equilibrium.

5. "How do you explain a sunset if there is no god?"
What? Ok. The position of the sun as we see it is relative to the earth's position and rotation, and as the earth rotates, the sun "sets" when the side of the earth that we're on starts to face away from the sun.

6. "If the Big Bang Theory is true, and taught as science along with evolution, why do the laws of thermodynamics debunk said theories?"
See question four about evolution, but where are you getting the idea that the laws of thermodynamics debunks the Big Bang Theory? So far as I understand it, the universe is considered as a closed system currently, one that, as a whole, is behaving as the laws of thermodynamics would predict.

7. "What about Noetics?"
According to the Institute of Noetic Sciences,
Noetic sciences are explorations into the nature and potentials of consciousness using multiple ways of knowing—including intuition, feeling, reason, and the senses. Noetic sciences explore the "inner cosmos" of the mind (consciousness, soul, spirit) and how it relates to the "outer cosmos" of the physical world
So, basically, stuff that can't be replicated or falsified, and is not scientific. We're not talking psychology or philosophy of the mind here. When it can be empirically tested, I'll give it serious thought.

8. "Where do you derive objective meaning in life?"
I don't. I see no reason to think that there is some outside, cosmic force giving meaning to life. It is up to us to determine what our personal, subjective meaning in life is.

9. "If God did not create everything, how did the first single-celled organism originate? By chance?"
I don't know. That's an answer we haven't found yet (and perhaps will never find). But given that every explanation we've ever found for any phenomena in existence can be traced to natural causes, it is probable that this explanation can also be traced to natural causes (as opposed to a supernatural, creator god). It should also be noted that we have various models for how it could have happened, given our understanding of how nature works, but we can't know which model is the actual correct one in this case.

10. "I believe in the Big Bang Theory . . . God said it and BANG it happened!"
Why do you believe God said it? Are you claiming to have knowledge that can be verified, or are you just taking it on faith? Either way, what reason can you give me to believe as you do?

11. "Why do evolutionists/secularists/humanists/non-god believing people reject the idea of their being a creator God, but embrace the concept of intelligent design from aliens or other extra-terrestrial sources?"
Say what now? Where do you get that idea? I'm not aware of any good evidence to suggest aliens designed us, and would only embrace such an extraordinary claim after extraordinary evidence were given. I know there may be some who think "aliens did it," but it's not something embraced by a majority consensus in the biological fields.

12. "There is no in-between . . . the only one found has been Lucy, and there are only a few pieces of the hundreds necessary for an 'official proof.'"
All fossils are transitional. We are transitional to whatever the hell comes after us. Here's a great image that helps explain it.
Thanks to WWJTD? for the image (and he explains the whole damn thing better than me).

13. "Does metamorphosis help support evolution?"
Not directly, no. Here's an interesting article about the evolution of metamorphosis in insects, though.

14. "If evolution is a theory (like creationism, or the Bible) why then is evolution taught as fact?"
Because it is a fact, and you're misusing the word "theory" in this context.
In modern science, the term "theory" refers to scientific theories, a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. Such theories are described in such a way that any scientist in the field is in a position to understand and either provide empirical support ("verify") or empirically contradict ("falsify") it. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge,[2] in contrast to more common uses of the word "theory" that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better defined by the word 'hypothesis').[3] Scientific theories are distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of how nature will behave under certain conditions.[4]
There are plenty of theories, in the scientific sense, that you may have heard of: Theory of Gravity, Theory of General Relativity, Germ Theory of Disease, etc.

15. "Because science by definition is a "theory" --not testable, observable, or repeatable" why do you object to creationism or intelligent design being taught in school?"
Actually, by definition a scientific theory is in fact testable, observable, or repeatable. Without that, it wouldn't even be a theory. See question 14.

16. "What mechanism has science discovered that evidences an increase of genetic information seen in any genetic mutation or evolutionary process?"
Sometimes when cells undergo meiosis, the reshuffling of genetic information can result in new adaptations. In other words, mutation is the mechanism.

17. "What purpose do you think you are here for if you do not believe in salvation?"
Similar to objective meaning, I don't think I'm here for any grand, cosmic purpose. If I wish there to be purpose in my life, I shall have to devise such purpose myself.

18. "Why have we only found 1 Lucy, when we have found more than 1 of everything else?"
See number 12.

19. "Can you believe in the "Big Bang" without "faith"?"
Absolutely. If there's a preponderance of evidence pointing to a Big Bang, then it is reasonable to believe the Big Bang happened, with such belief ideally proportioned to the amount of evidence. There are competing theories (other than intelligent design/creationism), but they have yet to bring the evidence.

20. "How can you look at the world and not believe someone created/thought of it? It's amazing!"
Yes, it is (except for crap like cancer, which is an awful kind of amazing, if you call that amazing). What does that have to do with whether or not someone created it? I don't believe someone created it because there's no evidence to support that belief. I'm an agnostic adeist with respect to the idea that there was a creator that set everything up and left, meaning I don't think it's knowable one way or the other. Even if such a creator exists, that wouldn't get us to a personal god, such as the Christian versions.

21. "Relating to the big bang theory . . . Where did the exploding star come from?"
Singularity, not exploding star. And we don't know. Currently, it's a mystery. There are plenty of ideas, including a multiverse of infinite universes giving birth to other universes, but so far, we don't know. Hopefully someday we'll be able to get some of those ideas tested in ways that can lead us closer to the truth. But there's still no reason to believe it was a god who created it (and really, that would only lead to "where did the deity come from?" and so on in infinite regress).

22. "If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?"
We didn't come from monkeys. We came from a common ancestor. Why is this so hard to get? Saying we came from monkeys is like saying I came from my cousin of the same generation as me. Instead, each cousin can trace their ancestry back to a common ancestor -- a grandparent, if you will, although the common ancestry of humans and monkeys is further back than that analogy goes.