Friday, July 3, 2015

Hillel, Jesus and the Decalogue

christine3 wrote:
"These are our highest most honesty-keeping rules and should be considered sacred. If you follow these rules you will not be cut off, you will live in the world to come." For the Commandments were written with the foreknowledge that there was going to be a world to come.

Neither the Hebrew nor the OT Commandments were written with salvation or a world to come.  There was a hint of a world to come in Isaiah but the life after death, sin, and salvation were all invented by Paul. The Decalogue is simply a sacred rulebook as you note.  
I do find it interesting that in the Hebrew Decalogue the social rules are mashed into 2 verses.  In your version the 10 could be contained in 3.  1 through 8 condensed into ""These are our highest most honesty-keeping rules and should be considered sacred."  I can see where Hillel the Elder got his one foot Torah.  And Jesus found his Two Commandments: 1-8 condensed into Love the Lord thy God, and the rules condensed into Love thy neighbor as thyself.

I know why my Jewish friends liked to talk about Hillel the Elder.  I didn't really notice that God was missing from our discussions.  I have no doubt that God was assumed by Hillel and my friends as the originator of the social rules, but the overemphasis on worship and obedience to "I am the Lord Thy God" was clearly missing.  No wonder atheism is compatible with Judaism.  If the rules, all 613 of them were the result of a tradition that worked there is no reason to add God to the tradition except to establish a supernatural cop that would punish transgressors. Moses was for some reason having trouble governing his tribe, and perhaps thought that a supernatural supercop was just the thing he needed. It sure did work.  A few thousand years of working.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Church Across the Street

In the UU RE Curriculum there is a unit called the Church Across the Street.  A Sunday School class and teacher from a neighbor church, synagogue, or mosque if available is invited for the children's part of the service and join their cohort in RE to discuss, comment and compare.  The next weekend the roles are reversed with the neighboring church, synagogue or mosque hosting the UUs.  When an exchange cannot be arranged the class discusses what they have learned in the previous exchanges.  I can't speak for the exchange RE programs but the tolerance, respect, and humanism learned by the UU kids is incredible.  "They are just like us!"

Critical Thinking in Religion

In some religious traditions, Jews and Jesuits come immediately to mind, critical thinking about religion is encouraged post puberty.  But by that time the belief mental blocks are firmly in place.  Even the critically thinking Jesuits seem to understand this: Give me the child, and I will give you the adult.  OK the quote is boy and man, but it works with girls and women as well. 
As Michael Shermer discusses in The Believing Brain belief blocks even skeptical belief blocks are unassailable.  Contrary information isn't even processed by the brain.  The la, la, la, la, I can't hear you! is real, not metaphorical.   

Outside the belief blocks critical thinking can be encouraged and taught, although it is generally considered dangerous by the more dogmatic religions for fear that it will spill into faith thinking.  

Belief Genetics

I doubt that the belief gene has been identified. (And probably won't be, people have been burned at the stake for less.)  But according to Shermer it exists in a large segment of the population.  Not always religious, but politics and religion are the most common expressions.  Probably tribe membership or authority related from an evolutionary viewpoint. 
But look around you.  Believers beget believers.  It would be hard to separate out nature vs nurture, but believers occasionally beget people who can actually read the Bible and the newspapers, or actually think about what they watch on the boob tube (for them.) One might think of them as deficient in the belief gene as the occasional green-eyed redhead is deficient in the melanin gene. 

But non-believers also beget non-believers.  I come from a family that goes back to the earliest colonists for which "He would have been mayor except he pissed off the preacher." was their characterization of most of the famous members.  "He" was usually run out of town as the original settler was run out of England. An ancestor was a General in Washington's army, but was run out of Virginia (and America) to Ohio.  

They also perhaps necessarily marry non-believers weeding out the belief gene.  My great grandmother married into the family but was an atheist, free thinker and feminist.  (late 19th Cen.)

Pure Thought

Jun 21, 2015 -- 10:54AM, Blü wrote:
And can you offer a testable (hence falsifiable) hypothesis about the manner in which thought on its own could exist, could be informed, could change, could remember, could reason, could formulate and articulate (or otherwise communicate) information (&c)?

If so I'd be delighted to pursue your question.

Another way to detect thought is through EEG. The thoughts produced and measured by MRI admittedly a physical process can be observed to be synchronized by mirror neurons, musical expression, and synchrony of movements in animals and people.  These thought patterns can control computers, prosthetics, etc. and the computer interface can process the information to incorporate feedback to refine control like being able to pick up a raw egg.  

Is it not possible that another brain can process, change, remember and reason on, and store the information of this synchronized information?   The information must be physically created originally by a brain, but is the result not observably "pure thought?"  

My observation is that God is nothing more than repeated and memorized fictional reality data created over time by people and incorporated into religious ritual and dogma. 

Catholic Experience of God through the Eyes of an Atheist.

In my experience, mainly with Catholics, I have found that for them God is a real construct of the historical collective consciousness of the parishioners of the particular church or cathedral.  When several very good friends genuflect to acknowledging the presence of God, they get a clear and real image of God as present in the space that is unique to the space.  That is raiment and ethnicity is different in each space.  The overall concept is in accord with the Credo, but the dominant Jesus expression is local.  The blond, straight nosed palefaced Jesus depicted in all the traditional images is pretty much what they "see" except in ethnic spaces.   A very good friend is Italian and is somewhat put off by the image he gets at St. Pats.

I have actually tried myself but all I get is a vague "presence" feeling as described in the God Helmet experimentBut the genuflect does trigger it.  The human mind is a weird and wonderful thing. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

God and BS - Is there a Distinction


Ancient history but worth preserving

2/2/2004 1:52 AM
1 out of 26

Tr1nity, TheRaUch, Mas, and other advocates of BS (Belief System(s), thanks Acira and TheRaUch.).

First. I have no doubt that God exists for you. I have no doubt that for tr1nity Christ lives.

Second. When I open a mass I have no doubt that Kyrie is there to Eleison and that Christe is right behind Herm to help. Indeed it is proven each time it happens, as neither will strike dead the soprano with the atrocious vibrato that is destroying the beauty of the music. They are also able to make the believers in the audience, and yes, even the believers singing, not hear it. Just as they help believers not see the atrocious art in some of the crucifixes they have on their walls and around their necks.

Belief in God can be empowering. However, many threads on this board have been presenting a powerful demonstration of one of the greatest dangers of belief. They are trying to convince a rather skeptical group that a belief in God can be transferred to a BS that defies all reason, and then circularly use the BS to find God.

Mediators for God have exhorted people that if they believe, God will be real for them. Even though they must ignore the evidence of their senses, and must not expect rational evidence to believe.

So far, so good. If one stops with God advising and helping to manage one's life, and one trusts only God to sort out which parts of the BS that are being thrown at them are true, the chances are excellent that they will have a spiritually rewarding life.

Then the trouble starts.

The mediator says God inspires ME, Believe Me. This is easy to do, especially if God does inspire the mediator. Unfortunately, this is also semantically equivalent to the classic con man's "trust me."

At this point it is critical to understand that it is the mediator's interpretation of God's inspiration that hesh is preaching. A believer must check that interpretation with God directly before transferring belief to the mediator.

By the way this is where most atheists and agnostics part company with believers. It may be reasonable to ignore sensual and rational evidence for an omnipotent, omniscient entity, especially when the entity cares about everyone.
It is definitely not reasonable to ignore sensual and rational evidence to believe a guy in a fancy dress, no matter how impressive the pulpit is. Ultimately the balcony of the Vatican is no more persuasive if God (or the evidence) says bad BS than the dirty top of the cardboard box with three bent cards on it. Please note that neither is necessarily unpersuasive for some who wish to believe.

But once belief in an omnipotent, omniscient entity that cares about everyone is transferred to real people whose BS may have personal agendas that conflict the best interests of others, a BS can and does get real ugly.

Some threads here are advocating some really ugly BS. No God I have ever had occasion to believe in would approve anything about them. It is clear to me that some mediators behind them are pushing extremely antisocial BS. I find the motives to be pretty transparent: To acquire political power and bling-bling to impress the flock. The three-card monte dealer is at least honest about herm scam.


2/2/2004 12:44 PM
3 out of 26

In regards to BS, this needs to be credited to Robert Anton Wilson, who was the first I ever read use it in regards to Belief Systems. It's SUPPOSED to register in your mind as bullsh**... :P

Actually, I could go on and on for many posts explaining the mindset and perspective behind BS and why RAW uses that acronym, and why I happily adopted it, but it would be easier to just refer you to any RAW works. If you're interested, let me know, and I'll get you a title.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ritual, Belief, and Understanding

I use ritual as a shorthand for important belief sets for any religion.  If you learn them early enough and repeat them offen enough they become part of your identity as a member of the "tribe" (the general sense of the term.) The Pledge of Allegiance is an identity ritual of the Tribe of Ammerruhcuns.

Understanding is quite different from belief.  I understand the Credo as fundamental to Catholicism, and can respect and interpret it musically in my case to reinforce it in the minds of believers even though I do not believe any of it myself.  The Church paid big money to composers to create memorable Masses to indoctrinate believers in an enjoyable format.  Part of the compensation was for setting the Mass to reinforce the dogma.

J neat.

Argumentative Jew wrote:
I don't know of a 'Jahwist' faith community - so I'm not sure at all what you're talking about there.

As far as I know Scripture is recognized as having many authors one of which was the Yahwist, Jahwist, or J even by Jewish scholarship.  Hesh wrote all of the memorable stories that many people in many faiths who have adopted the Pentateuch as fundamental, whatever they call it, think of as "Scripture."  Adam and Eve, Noah, Abram, Lot, Moses, of course God or YHWH from whom hesh derives the moniker and many other protagonists male and female. The stories about them attributed to J are what people remember.

When I say J "neat" I am referring to reading those stories as a coherent whole without all of the Priestly context. I first read them that way in a new translation from the Hebrew by David Rosenbloom.  I have no way of criticizing the translation as I know nothing of Hebrew but the collection was a great read, and sent me back to the other Bibles on the shelf to reread those stories as a coherent whole.  I must admit that I knew most of them well.  And very little of what I skipped. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Whiite, Male, Middle Class, MBA Perspective

Jun 7, 2015 -- 7:01PM, LDS wrote:
My thing is that too many people - including certain posters - are so caught up in their pet projects that they're starting to lose perspective.

I lost the white, male, middle class, MBA perspective long before I even got the MBA. Despite the fact that I am white, male, middle class and have an MBA.  I lost it so long before I entered an elite university, that it was glaringly obvious in most of my classmates and somewhat uncomfortable for me although I could not avoid it or combat it and still participate as a student.  It was kind of like being an atheist in a Christian culture.  One had to find an unobtrusive way to remain true to your values without offensive behavior.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Science, Religionm and the Theory of Everything

Just to be clear:  Science says nothing at all about how the universe(s) came to be.  Science observes the fact that the universe(s) exist and things in them behave in observable ways.  Science also observes than humans are the ultimate top predator, and can even affect the planet which supports them.
Many humans have attempted to explain these facts.  Science drops back 15 yards and punts.  Some of the attempted explanations have been shown to be inadequate; others are sloppy enough that they cannot be shown to be inadequate.  One explanation of the facts is that God created everything that exists with many puzzles to keep humans busy not destroying the planet which supports them.  Believers, non-believers, and anti-theists can and are studying this theory to falsify it or prove it to be the correct explanation of all that exists.  None have succeeded and science doesn't care.   

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Assailing BS Conceptual Blocks

Once more assailing religious conceptual blocks.  Not expecting to succeed, but the BS cannot remain unchallenged. 

JCarlin:  Humans have objective moral standards based on evolutionary imperatives for the survival of the species:  Altruism, compassion, empathy; shunning of cheaters, liars, and sociopaths; are all cross species needs for survival.

El Apologist: No, evolution also produced people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and they were very successful at survival for a time so how can you condemn them since their source of morality is the same as yours? And all those things are just chemical reactions in your brain, one set of chemical reactions are no better than another set. And all those standards are just based on irrational sentimentality for the human species, there is nothing special about humans so you are being irrational by favoring human survival if atheistic evolution is true. So they are not objective.

One despot's survival has no evolutionary significance.  His crappy genes (He is after all in the image of God) are normally eliminated from the gene pool quickly.  The damage he does to the gene pool by his slaughter is much more significant and is the reason his gene pool is typically removed soon after his death, or frequently at the same time. As the Christian French Kings and the EOC Russian Tsar found out too late. 

The source of my morality is humanism and respect for all people. The source of a despot's morality is either God or power.   Neither are chemicals in the brain but social imprinting usually by religion but occasionally by other sociopathological belief systems.  As you necessarily ignore: Hitler was brought up Catholic, and Stalin was brought up Eastern Orthodox through seminary.  I am not blaming either Catholicism or Orthodoxy for creating these despots; most people survive religious childhood in both religions as decent human beings.  Unfortunately some don't. 
JCarlin: jc: Social species have other evolutionary imperatives including respect for vuvuzelas in fancy dresses in over decorated balconies which is where God's dysfunctional moral standards are promulgated as "TRUTH™" including such atrocities as love the bully and abuser because God loves everybody.  Of course it helps if the bully or abuser is a male in the image of God and can therefore identify with all the bullying and abuse documented in Scripture most of which is ordered by God and executed by men. 

El Apologist: No, God teaches that bullies and abusers should be punished, as it plainly taught in the Mosaic law and even Christ told His disciples to buy a sword for self defense. He also taught to love your enemies, and one way to love them is to mete out justice on them not necessarily you personally but you should report them to the proper authorities as Paul teaches in Romans 13.

God teaches that bullies and abusers should be rewarded with land, sex slaves, regular slaves, and the admiration of God, as is plainly taught in the Mosaic law. 

In context the Apostles were to buy swords as Jesus, not Christ yet, would no longer be around to protect them.  It turned out that the bullies and abusers were followers of Paul's Christ. Who, need I remind you, was God in your BS. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

On Death - Henry Scott Holland

Death Is Nothing At All - Poem by Henry Scott Holland

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Skeptical Conceptual Blocks

christine3:It seems most atheists here get a reaction when they read the words paranormal, supernormal, superconscious, supernatural.
Skeptical atheists are believers just like most people.  Their conceptual blocks are as impermeable as a fundamentalist Christian or a Republican.  The only real difference is their BS do not involve God. They are as capable of sticking their fingers in their ears and singing la, la, la I can't hear you when confronted with evidence of things like esp and other paranormal abilities as any Christian. 
May 20, 2015 -- 7:32PM, Blü wrote:
See #44

Okay, I've re-read #44.
No evidence of esp confronted me.
What did I miss?
May 21, 2015 -- 2:46AM, Trollish wrote:
Same here. Read #44 and encountered no evidence for paranormal phenomenon.
#44 says that you have never and never will encounter evidence for paranormal phenomena.  Your brain is incapable of processing evidence you may have encountered in the past or will encounter in the future.  It will always concoct an apologetic that certain things cannot happen in reality and if they appear to have happened that must be the result of something else.  Delusion, falsehood, or misinterpretation of the data. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Religious, Spiritual, and Atheist.

I think Forrest Church's mantra is appropriate here. 
Religion is the human response to being alive and having to die.

 I had a chance to talk with him about that.  He had no problems with atheists in his church. 

His question to me was something like have you come to grips with the the fact that you are going to die, and what effect has that had on your life up to now, and in the future.  I said something like sure I will die and quoted Jeffers "Surely they must know that cultures decay and life's end is death."  The Purse-Seine (1937.) He waited silently for the "and"

Every moment is a gift that must be used intelligently to enrich the lives of those around me in ever widening circles.   His response was: Is God involved? I said no and he said you have just defined your atheist religion. I didn't like the term religion as that implied dogmatic to me, and asked if I could use spirituality instead of religion. He replied.  They are the same thing.


I don't bother to use "spiritual" much, since like many other useful words in English, its meaning has been so corrupted by usage that it is essentially meaningless.  I used to argue that spiritual was the numinous with or without God:  That which cannot be formulated in language but which the mind can comprehend as that combination of thoughts, myths, and ideas which make all of us uniquely "me".

Christian Atheists

YEC:  I would think almost all of the Atheist living in a free society are to one degree or another.
 It is hard to be a Christian if not a theist.  The entire dogma of Christianity is centered around groveling at the feet of God whether it is Jesus, the Trinity, or "Thy God" of Jesus.  Atheists do not grovel at anything or anybody. Nice try at the Great Commission, but abject failure. 
YEC: For a Godless society there is no moral rule.  Natural evolutionism is the rule.  Survival of the fittest.  There is no absolute law in which a standard can be erected.
In a Godless society moral rules are derived from evolutionary necessity and its corollary tribal living necessities expanded to larger societies as required.  While there is no absolute law governing morality, humanistic empathy is a firm foundation.
YEC: You are born, live and die and "puff"'s all over.
Yep.  In the words of Forrest Church one had best live a life worth dying for.  It is all anybody has. Theist or atheist. 
YEC: In a free society the Atheist follow the moral teachings of Jesus and I might add, the bible.  They know the morals work.  They are tried and proven.   If Jesus never appeared, if the bible never existed....if our laws didn't reflect those morals, where would we be?  
Your remarks about Jesus are pretty close to the mark.  The rest of the Bible morality is either obsolete or dysfunctional in a modern society.

YEC: You said, "They're Out There, I Just Haven't Found Any Yet"...the truth is, you are one of them.
Sorry.  There are many atheist Christians, Jews, Muslims, and members of other theistic religions, that enjoy the traditions, rituals and tribal gatherings associated with the faith, but without the faith in God.  Atheists without a religion are not among them.  In general we (I include myself among them) have developed our own meaning and purpose for being alive and having to die.  But in the words of johnbigboote on the old boards it is a One Person Religion.

Jesuism 2015

Interesting that Christian atheists redirects to a rather useful article on Jesuism.  When I was looking for a title for a thread on atheistic studies of Jesus in Jan 2007 "Jesuism" showed up on Google and other search engines only as an obscure Eastern Cult, and some obscure literary references.  Jesuit was already taken and Jesusism and Jesuanism weren't on target for what I was looking for.

I have since seen it on other blogs, and of course Wiki but it always refers to the sudy of Jesus as a human not a God.  At the time I was thinking about the Christian return to Jesus focusing on the Sermon on the Mount and the Two Great Commandments as an atheist movement in Christianity, but they made an end run around atheism by returning to the personal God of the Jews "Love the Lord Thy God ..."  in effect remaining theists, but repudiating all of John and Paul.  How they warped their minds around The Christ as Jesus remains a mystery to me, but somehow they still think of themselves as Christians focusing on the teachings of Jesus. 

It doesn't matter to me as Jesus was the first radical humanist in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and "Thy God" viewed through the teachings of Jesus may eliminate most of the excesses of the Abrahamic monstrosity.

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Female Jahwist?

According to Harold Bloom in the Book of J the Jahwist was a high class educated women in Solomon's or Rehoboam's court tasked with preserving the traditional lore, and instead wrote ironic tales highlighting the misogyny and ineptness of God.  After reading Rosenbloom's modern translation and going back to my favorite Bibles to reread the stories there, I have concluded that J was indeed female and some of the stories are downright satirical.  But for believers too much is never enough and they turned this inept misogynist into God to be worshiped as without fault.   Then the Christians came along and turned those stories into the literal word of God.  Oh. My. God.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Atheists are Funnier than Christians.

 Mormon wrote:
And once again, you cherry-pick in order to try and make a point.

Atheist Now, that is a joke! 

Is there another religion whose members cherry-pick the scripture to the extent the LDS do? I very much doubt it.

The entire Book of Mormon is a joke perpetrated on an annoyingly pious young man in New England by his gay, atheist friend Walt Whitman.  The Mormons suppress literary analysis like work count and stylistic and content parallels but they cannot suppress any literate person from comparing the Book of Mormon with Leaves of Grass on a boring few day stay in a Salt Lake City hotel. 

I read the Book of Mormon on the first night of that boring stay (no booze, no friends) and could not miss the resemblance to a satire of the Bible I wrote in High School.  I gave myself 20 lashes with the monster's noodly appendages for not naming my angel Moroni, but chalked it up to a lack of literary genius.  The next day I got my copy of Leaves of Grass out of my suitcase and read it side by side with the Book of Mormon.  No brainer - same author.  I would not put it past Whitman to have given his friend "magic glasses" and told him where in the woods to dig.  I am sure Whitman kept a copy or revision of his satire and cleaned up parts of it for his future writings.  I still have mine.  You may have seen parts of it here.