Friday, December 19, 2014

Are Irrational Emotional Coping Mechanisms Necessary?

Beliefnet
That is just an admission that god is an irrational emotional coping mechanism.

Yep.  That is exactly what God is.  Nonetheless, humans are hard wired to employ irrational emotional coping mechanisms for irrational situations.  Rationality does not always have solutions to all problems, especially human emotional issues.  

Please explain the rational steps to deal with the following:  A long term apparently devoted partner and parent of one's children, finds it necessary to go live with herm same sex lover in a different community.  No emotional reactions permitted.  Simply provide rational steps to resolve the issue. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Spirituality, God and Skeptics.





there is nothing, not one single thing, in any of science as we presently understand it which does not point to how glorious God is.
 you're going to need a boatfull of empirical evidence to even scratch the surface of your conjecture. 

Quite the contrary every phenomenon that feeds the human sense of wonder, beauty, peace with life, and other "spiritual" desiderata may in fact be proof of the glory of God for a believer.  Just because I can explain the physics and draw the ray diagrams that make it necessary that I be the unique focus of every rainbow (you don't see the same one even if you are right next to me,) doesn't mean I cannot enjoy the spiritual gratification of being the special focus of that particular rainbow.  It is all in my head of course but neither you nor I can present a tight rational argument that God did not put it there. You are welcome to try, but boatloads of evidence works both ways.  Got any?

I know some extraordinarily intelligent people that believe in some God as the source of inspiration to keep trying in the face of adversity. I have convinced myself that I don't need one but I have no proof that that is a fact.  Maybe as long as I keep trying God doesn't care whether I believe in Herm or not.  If Hesh can put up with all the religious idiots, Hesh can certainly be amused by skeptics.   

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fundamentalist Atheists.

beliefnet
There are two types of atheists that seem to acquire the label fundamentalist. 
One type insists that insists that to be an atheist one must refuse to accept a supernatural god in any way, shape, or form.  No nuance permitted.  A-theist: No god. No discussion.  

The other type insists that any type of religious teaching is abuse. 

Both types are relatively rare, but like all fundies are certain that they are right and are not shy about promoting their cause. Preaching to their choir and accepting the flak from those they are preaching against is one of the few ways to acquire fame and fortune as an atheist. 

Most atheists don't have congregations or PACs for support as most atheists are too busy quietly making a difference for their family and friends by competing in a religion dominated world.  In this sense they have a common cause with the quiet feminists, and other minorities who simply are so competent that they can succeed without connections.  As some woman who broke the glass wall into a male dominated profession noted, in order to succeed in this business you have to be twice as good as the average (white) male.  Fortunately this is not difficult.  Atheists are generally better educated, more flexible and rational in their thought processes, and less dependent on networking.  As a result if competence is a virtue and it usually is they can usually make a difference.  Also like religious minority groups they tend to seek out professions where competence is both measurable and rewarded.  STEM, arts, academia, medicine, and finance.  

Since they usually do well in these important professions, it is yet another reason they are hated.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Homemaking is Hate?

beliefnet
If I infer correctly you are holding up the following as an example supporting your religion is hate thesis.
A radical feminist quoted:
You know what? She needs to be working on breakfast. She needs to be working on lunch. She needs to be working on dinner. She needs to be working on homeschooling the children. And teaching them, and cleaning, and that’s enough work.  "Pastor Anderson"
For most of human history this was a necessary reality if the human race was to continue.  When child and maternal mortality was in significant double digits women had little choice if they were to get their 2.3 replacement offspring to puberty but to provide for the man who was providing external resources to the family, keeping the home sanitary, feeding the family, and educating the children to be productive citizens of their community. 

As late as the early 20th century my own grandmother had 7 children two of which were stillborn, and died in childbirth with the 7th.  The family was well off and well-educated, so four of the five surviving became productive adults.  The two women although independent, well-educated feminists were still relegated by their society, not their church, to homemaking. The fifth was incapacitated with childhood diseases and became a ward of the family. 

I am not arguing that modern medicine and contraception have not changed the equation and that religion should drag itself into the modern world, but religion is very conservative, and a significant portion of the world population is still locked in the septic, hidden estrus world that is our genetic heritage. 

You may rail from your position of privilege that religion should be changing.  That is what positions of privilege are good for.  I have done my share from my position of privilege, but accusations of hate, misogyny, and bigotry as if that is all there is, are in my opinion counterproductive. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Judging Religious Beliefs

 beliefnet
I have spent a good part of a fairly long lifetime, studying religions as social systems.  I have come to the conclusion that anyone who chooses to remain in a religion deserves what hesh chooses. It is not my problem as long as it basically stays in the church.  I also have no standing to comment on how they are bringing up their children.  I may deplore it, but it has to stay in my church or lack thereof, as they are not my children. I can only hope that once the children reach their teens they will be exposed to enough other options that they can make an intelligent choice.  They may well decide to stay in the comfort of their church, and once again that is their choice not mine to make or even influence unless I have been chosen as a mentor.  As a humanist (lc"h") I can do no other. 

Love, Sex, and Chocolate Ice Cream

A conversation with  Blü and subsequent posts on an otherwise useless thread. Quoted in full and in order.  

Apologist:
If you think love and sex are the same thing, I feel sorry for you.
BlüIf you think love and sex aren't connected then I suggest you have a private talk with your parents about where you came from.

I have to agree with the apologist on this issue. 

Scripturally love and sex are two unrelated issues.  Scriptural sex is the means by which men exchange protection and support for bearing his seed, raising his children, and satisfying his lust once a week. 

Love is an emotion reserved for God and occasionally other men, but only once in the bible is it associated with sex and even that is danced around by most Scriptural analysis. (1 Samuel 20:41 KJB)

Love associated with a male-female pair bond is a modern invention, still resisted by most religions as empowering women, although given lip service in modern wedding vows. 


Love associated with a male-female pair bond is a modern invention

Romantic love's a relatively modern notion - the flowery troubadour kind from the 11th century and the bodice-ripping RITA Award kind from the 18th century.

Meanwhile, pair bonding, and the emotions associated with it and with child protection and nurture, are as ancient (and as practical) as can be.

I would suggest that neither the troubadour nor the romantic kind has anything to do with the love discussed in Scripture that El Cid is posting about. 

Also the oxytocin mediated pair bonding for child protection and nurture bears little resemblance to either Scriptural love or courtship love.  Once the husband cleaves unto his wife and forsakes (sort of) all others, the oxytocin kicks in at the birth of the first child and never really lets go.  Particularly where there is little opportunity for the man to stray, which for practical purposes is most non-elite married men.  Scientists are even finding oxytocin bonding in empty nesters long after the fires of love and sex are mere embers. 

For practical purposes in the postmodern post religious world love is such a muddied concept as to be useless in any sense other than the vernacular love for movies or chocolate ice cream.  

Love associated with a male-female pair bond is a modern invention

Romantic love's a relatively modern notion - the flowery troubadour kind from the 11th century and the bodice-ripping RITA Award kind from the 18th century.

Meanwhile, pair bonding, and the emotions associated with it and with child protection and nurture, are as ancient (and as practical) as can be.

But you know that.

love is such a muddied concept as to be useless in any sense other than the vernacular love for movies or chocolate ice cream.

The commercialization of love (movies, TV and magazines, Valentine's Day, Mothers Day, cosmetics, fashions &c) may indeed bring the familiarity that breeds contempt.

But having been in love myself, I can describe what I mean by the term, how I figure it relates to my biochemistry, how much I've enjoyed the trip and why I think it's important.

Or, from another angle, there's some wonderful love poetry out there, not to mention great songs. And how about Rodin's The Kiss? They can resonate with us deep in our human make-up.

Been there, done that several times, many times if you include art.  I just don't call it love.  I have simply internalized Heinlein's "that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."  I manage to cram in "and welfare" after happiness and it is still a single concept.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

More on Living and Dying


A well integrated atheist has a different view of death.  It is a natural result of not being able any longer to continue working on one's legacy which is an atheist's reason for living. There is no fear of consequences, they have already happened.  At any point at need I can and do remember the valuable life lessons taught me by my atheist predecessors which I have passed on to their and my successors.  When I have nothing more to pass on due to pain or infirmity, there is no reason to want to continue.   As a well remembered member of the DA community, Charles Fiterman/Gaius_Caesar, expressed it so well I ask daily what am I doing with my time that justifies the pain and expense and inconvienience to others of going on. When the answer becomes bad enough I will do the right thing.  Not surprisingly he was working on his legacy up until the right thing was necessary.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Recycling Churches

beliefnet
Don't forget performance spaces and restaurants.  I know of a few churches, still conducting services for a handful of parishioners to keep their tax deduction that are prime concert venues.  Others have revamped their service to appeal to the SNBR and basically are run by a minister, a custodian, and a booking agent.  A trend I highly approve of as an Indie performer. 

Many SNBRs like the Sunday Country Club and will support a church that doesn't demand compliance with doctrine and/or bigotry.  On any Church Street you will find several places where you will feel quite comfortable as an atheist (if you like that kind of stuff and can put up with references to the Greater Being.)  They will even host your Celebration of Life and cater the party afterward at very competitive rates compared to a commercial venue. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Criminal Justice



I tend to categorize crimes into at least three different categories. 

Victimless crimes: All of which are behavioral issues best treated as "illness."  Society may have valid reasons for prevention, but treatment in secured facilities if necessary is the only humane solution.  

Crimes against other people: Possibly behavioral issues, but society cannot afford not to have severe deterrence penalties.  Up to permanently removing the behavioral issues from the gene pool if possible, and from society if not.  

Crimes against society: Up to and including treason.  Deterrence penalties appropriate to the crime are the only possible solution.  Legislators may argue about "appropriate" but deterrence is the only solution.  Note that the deterrence is a cost benefit issue for the criminal.  Most famously "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Community Moral Origins.

beliefnet
In the cultural and moral history of humanity multiple communities are an almost insignificant part of our heritage.  Certainly not enough to affect the basic moral conditioning we recieve. So for practical purposes the face group of your parents is your community.  It is rare even today for mama's face group to extend beyond the parish, village, etc.  Even dad's community was generally local, the store the smithy, the farm.  So culturally one can be confident that the basic community values are those of mama. 

Multiple communities really began in the 19th Century when the schoolmarm with an out of town education came to influence the children.  Cohesive community morality began the slippery slope to competing community moralities.  We are still just beginning to learn how to deal with them.  Some still don't. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is Religion Useful?

beliefnet

I find fundamentalism to be a victimless crime as long as it stays in the community of fundamentalists.  I am not convinced that bringing a child up to fit into herm community is child abuse if the community is large enough to provide for the needs of all in the community.  In the well connected cosmopolitan society in which they are embedded I suspect that they are non-competitive, but that is their problem not the larger society.  Political proselytizing can and should be discouraged politically, but most societies are able to do so long term.  

Other than political activity I have no issues at all with believers in some supernatural focus for their lives.  It provides a prepackaged social and ethical structure that can be at the very least comforting and satisfying, and relieves them from the difficult activity of making sense of being alive and having to die.  If the great mother Goddess or the misanthropic God takes care of all the spiritual needs one can devote ones attention to the social and material needs of living with greater focus.  

I find deconversion activity is useful for the community, but I suspect that SBNR is the reasonable expectation rather than atheism. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Terra Nostra

I recently performed Part I of a newly composed Oratorio called Terra Nostra, by Stacy Garrop. 
She selected an interesting collection of creation myths to introduce her Oratorio:   
(KJB) In the beginning, in the beginning,
The earth was without form and void.
God said, Let there be light, and there was light.
...

(India) This universe existed in the shape of Darkness.
Then the divine Svayambhu appeared, dispelling the darkness.
With a thought, he created the waters, and placed his seed in them.
...

(North America) All the earth was flooded with water.
Inkonmi sent animals to dive for dirt at the bottom of the sea,
....

(Egypt) I am he who was formed as Khepri.
When I formed, only I existed.  Everything was formed after me.
Numerous are the forms that came from my mouth.
....
(Walt Whitman) A blade of grass is the journeywork of the stars.
....

The idea of a creator seems universal. From the old myths from around the world to the atheist Whitman.  Science seems to support Whitman as all the elements needed by a blade of grass were created in the early universe stars and novae.

I found it to be an interesting collection of creation myths.

If, as Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land asks:  What if they are all right? Are we the ultimate creators?  Is Ouroboros the right analogy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Moral Development at Different Levels of Society

beliefnet
It is important to understand that moral behavior is not necessarily "good" behavior.  Morality is simply the selection of behavior that agrees with the infant's genetic sense of good and bad.  

If a very young child is abandoned and survives, moral actions are those that promote survival.  Society may judge those actions to be dysfunctional and control them but that has nothing to do with moral development.  See Bloom et. al. 

A child brought up by members or a member of an identifiable social group will associate behavior that promotes the welfare of the group with "good" and that which is contrary to the welfare of the group as bad.  The morality so developed may or may not be judged moral by a larger society, but ultimately it seems that compliance with face-group standards is the natural morality of humans.  

Moving up the chain to associations of face groups, either religious or secular, commandments, laws and rules of behavior are established to define minimum standards of behavior that promote the welfare of the larger group.  These commandments, laws and rules are not to be confused with morality, as frequently these commandments, laws and rules will conflict with the genetic sense of what is good and what is bad as it relates to the face group.  The face group at that point may withdraw to the extent possible from the larger group.  See the Amish and other Anabaptist groups who live by their own moral standards ignoring the laws of the larger society except where there is unavoidable conflict. Or they may be forced to withdraw from the larger group as the Native Americans were.  Again, nothing to do with the morality of the larger society, simply rules to make the larger society work. One could make a strong case that the laws of society are by definition immoral as they force compliance with activities that may be against the morals of individuals within the larger society.

Once one gets to the Nation or Religious entity morality is simply treason or heresy. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Global Citizens in a Cosmopolitan Society

beliefnet


He is not saying that globalization of society is preferable, but that breaking out of the tribal/national box is desirable.  Considering oneself a "global citizen" in a cosmopolitan society is an ideal.  Imposing globalization on idiots is impossible.  Some people cannot see beyond their sect/tribe/nation/God and half the time crap on people slightly different from the norms of the tribe.  In general social Darwinism (natural not imposed) will eliminate the worst excesses of tribalism. But evolutionary time scales are generational not annual.  Since the major threats to human survival are global, it may be a moot point whether globalization will even have a chance at working.

I am optimistic, humans have survived greater threats than these current ones, but the process will certainly not be pretty. "'I'm learning Chinese' says Werhner von Braun."