Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is a story a message?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? - : "If the message in art or storytelling seems more important than the story or the art the package will fail. However, a story without a message is destined to the dustbin of pulp fiction, read once and discarded without a thought. It is no wonder that the function of pulp fiction, that is mindless escape from the real world has been taken over by Video and UTube. Before you beat me with that dolly again, there are Videos with important messages behind the storyboard, and maybe there is even an important UTube out there, but you can bet it is entertaining as well as meaningful. The very few that are willing to think about the meaning behind the entertainment will keep it circulating in blogspace or the next big thing for people who can and do think."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Literature or Philosophy?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? : "One of the best and most popular courses in my brief stint as a philosophy major was a course entitled 'Philosophy in Literature.' The premise was that perhaps Shakespeare, Aquinas, Homer, Milton, Sartre, and Joyce were telling us more about the philosophy of their time than the academics, either historians or philosophers. One of the reasons I quit Philosophy as a major was the isolation from real life of the philosophers I was studying. I found myself going to the literature and music of the time to find out what was really going on. If you think about it, a novelist or other artist that wants to survive on herm art had better have a pretty good handle on the prevailing philosophy of the time. Not incidentally it is much more interesting studying philosophy in the context of a rollicking good story, than plowing through paragraph long sentences of meaningless words."

J'C: I find it much the same in music. The academics were pushing the cerebral envelope with studies of atonality, noise and silence, while the tenor of the times was being expressed in the movie scores and advert music. I find it amusing that modern "Classical" music is almost entirely movie scores. Of course Tchaikovsky only wrote popular music of his time also.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sir Alex and his Squire

Facebook | Videos Posted by Elizabeth Black: Sir Alex and his Squire

Grandson Alex with his new toy Thanks to Greg Stone and Jack Van Breen who helped get the right bass within the budget.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On Blank Books

Is Life Pointless?: "
I pick up this book of blank pages, and I say 'There's no story here.'

I think I will pick up a book of blank pages and see if I can write a better story that works for me. I just received an incredible gift from my sister, a small blank book with a poem on every page. Each page made many points of meaning for me and our friends and relatives. I will spend more time on that 'blank' book than on any book of ancient myths that are no longer even relevant to living."

WOLCUM YOLE

Our holiday started at the solstice with greetings all around for a wonder filled new year for all, and ended with a concert recital at a beautiful local Chamber Hall for her students at the concert level. The youngest being her usual 6 yr old prodigy playing Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart, the oldest only 14 this year, and her 8 yr old star playing all sorts of things 8 yr olds can't play like a Beethoven Sonata Allegro and Rachmaninoff. An incredibly good day topped off with the Christmas Eve present opening.

It all bodes well for a great new year filled with wonderful music and the daily wonders that randomly make life worth greeting each sunrise with elation, expectation, and joy. It is no accident that my bed faces East.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Was Mary Magdalene "Q"

Who do people say the Son of Man is?:

"As I understand the 'Q document' its very existence as a 'document' is an inference. I find it much more likely that Q was a companion of Jesus for much or all of his ministry, had a good memory for what he said at the various gatherings and related those to the disciples along with other lore that may have been less important to the disciples in their cult building. Hesh probably was what would be termed today a groupie, probably was not literate, as it is unlikely that hesh had any relationship with the priesthood. The reason I am using the gender inclusive pronoun is that I find it probable that Q was female." And yes, I think of "Q" as Mary Magdalene.

Also I think Mary was much more important to the ministry of Jesus than the men who wrote the histories would even think of giving her credit for. I suspect that social conversations between the two were instrumental in developing Jesus' overall gospel of respect and love for ones neighbor.

Friday, December 19, 2008

WOLCUM YOLE

Christmas :

"As we approach the Solstice (7:04am EST Sunday), and all of the various holidays that have appropriated the end of the darkest night as a promise of better things to come:

Da Capo al fine
WOLCUM YOLE
MERRY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY HANUKKA
JOYFUL KWANZAA
fine

and let us not forget all the Scrooges, Grinches, and other Curmudgeons:

BAH, HUMBUG

and may the spirit of the season infect you as well to bring you to Da Capo
__________________"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is Obama different?

The following is an excerpt from an email to me from the transition team:

Dear [J'Carlin]

Over the coming weeks, thousands of Americans will be leading Health Care Community Discussions -- small local gatherings in which Americans are sharing thoughts and ideas about reforming health care. President-elect Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle are counting on Americans from every walk of life to help identify what's broken and provide ideas for how to fix it.

You can help shape that reform by leading your own Health Care Community Discussion anytime between now and December 31st.

All this and more, for $25 that's right, no zeros after the $25 to the transition team and an email with a suggestion about health care to the campaign team.

Incredible. Hey, I always wanted to be like Cheney and hold my own policy meeting, now I can.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is tribal morality an evolutionary selection parameter?

A question on morality :

"It is hard to say anything is wrong in an evolutionary sense, since either it will work and the species will flourish, or it won't and the species will die out. For social animals the situation becomes more complicated as the evolutionary unit seems to be the herd, pack, or in the case of humans, tribe, village, or parish. From an evolutionary standpoint that which enhances the survivability of the tribe, becomes good, or if you will, evolutionarily favorable.

Morality, that is compliance with the rules and customs of social interaction of the tribe becomes simply another evolutionary selection parameter. Tribes with functional morals survive, those with dysfunctional morals die out.

The main advantage of God is that Hesh conserves (ossifies) moral systems that helped the particular tribe flourish under a certain set of conditions. As long as conditions don't change much and the tribe flourishes under those conditions, one can say that God based morality is an evolutionary advantage.

I can't think of conditions that would favor a child torturing tribe, but under conditions that favor properly nurtured and highly educated adults, if the torturers had to compete for resources with tribes that didn't torture their children I predict they would lose out in a few generations.

It seems to me that such an evolutionary situation is playing out right now in the treatment of women in society. Some tribes are systematically removing half their population from the knowledge based competition for intellectual property. (Some tribes seem to be eliminating their entire population from this competition, but that is a different issue.) It will be interesting to see whether these tribes are able to compete in the cosmopolitan world that seems to be the evolutionary niche humans are beginning to occupy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas time again

Christmas :
What are we celebrating? Winter solstice? A symbolic 're-birth?'

I celebrate the one known miracle that happens every day: the birth of a human being. Having the baby Jesus stand in for all of us doesn't bother me a bit, he was after all human. The Herald Angels of myth sing for all birthings, and it is good to be reminded of that at Christmas, and to be reminded that they sing for all births, the lowly cradled in a manger as well as those cradled in the latest hi tech birthing suites.

The overlay of all the solstice celebrations is 'Wolcum' as well with the food and the drinks to warm everybody to the season. My traditional greeting is "Wolcum Yole" from Britten's Ceremony of Carols which is a staple of my Christmas mix.

A righteous celebration for the season, I enjoy it immensely."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

There's no such thing as an atheist.

There's no such thing :

"True atheists are quite common although you are right that they seldom describe themselves as such. Many atheists go to church for the fellowship, networking, and social functions, and go through the motions of praying, and 'worshiping' but are quite aware that God is a tradition and not an entity. They depend on God for nothing in their lives, expect no response from God to their prayers, and worship, and manage their lives as if God does not exist. Very few, however take the next step and build a network of independent people to take the place of the church and finally break the dependence on religion. Only then will they start to self-identify as an atheist.

Other than occasionally on beliefnet discussions I can go months at a time without even thinking about being an atheist. God is just not a part of anything I do or think about. Morality and purpose come from those I call my society and although some of those I call my society are theists, their God has nothing to do with my life other than helping them be good people."

Played Carnegie Hall one more time!

.
As a registered alumnus of the New York Choral Society, an unbelievable email appeared in my inbox recently. The alumni who sang with Peter Paul and Mary in earlier concerts were invited to join them on stage at Carnegie Hall for the sing-along half of the concert.

No question of my not being there, and logistics were doable, so in conjunction with a Christmas visit with family in St. Louis another whirlwind trip to NYC happened.

It was, as they say, priceless. Despite worries about her health Mary put on her usual fantastic show and Peter Yarrow's Light One Candle is as relevant today as it was when it was written with its
Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe.

To be a part of the show and see friends still active in the chorus after 20 years since I left New York was simply wonderful and a memory that will last as long as I do.

Always been an atheist?

Always been an atheist? :

"
I would like to know if you have, pretty much, always been an atheist.


All of my family members who were important to me were atheists, at a time when that was not particularly common. My immediate family were Unitarians when there were Unitarian Churches available and participated for social and fellowship reasons rather than religious reasons. When I was very young we lived in a small town where the liberal Presbyterian church (I think) was their substitute. The Unitarian Sunday School had a heavy emphasis on 'The Church Across the Street' and we would frequently go to neighboring religious institutions on a Sunday or Saturday if appropriate and then come back and discuss what we learned for a few Sundays before it was time to visit the next group. We were also encouraged to accompany friends to worship services and report back to the class what we learned.

It never occurred to me that God was anything but a unifying myth for the other churches, and I never was tempted to "believe." I did however gain an intense interest in the content of the myths and spent much of my spare time trying to figure out what it was that the various groups got from their worship. I spent more time with Catholic myths due to my choral music avocation, as large choral works are mainly settings of Catholic prayers and the Mass. Catholics since the Renaissance have recognized that "music is fundamental" and have encouraged musical expressions of their beliefs.

The result is an atheist with no need for God or any god for that matter, but I do appreciate the various religious myths and have no issues with those that choose to believe in them. The Abrahamic myths which are not tempered by a clear understanding of the Synoptic Gospels are misogynistic and hateful IMO and to the extent that they try to impose their misogyny and hate on the rest of us they should be opposed, but I don't see much that can be done within their church walls. Hate and misogyny fill the plate and attract the weak males that pay the bills, so I doubt an outsider can do much to change anything. When they come onto a forum like beliefnet we can hammer them with the facts of the rest of the world (I would have used truth, but they think they have a trademark on the word.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are atheists accountable?

Held accountable? - Beliefnet Forums:
Is it fair to say that atheists don't think we will be held accountable for what we have done in our life?

I will not be held accountable by some supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid at some imagined judgment day after I am dead and gone. But I am held accountable in real time by those who are affected by my actions. Humans are intensely social animals, and a raised eyebrow on someone we respect is instant and powerful accountability.

Similarly, something as simple as a toast with a plastic glass of orange juice on an airplane can be a powerful reminder that we need to pay continuous attention to our relationship with those closest to us.

Sometimes I wonder, if people who obsess about that Dies Irae don't miss out on these here and now accountability lessons."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Does God Exist?

A Muslim respectfully asks - What is Atheism? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I find the existence of God to be an uninteresting question. Some people find belief in the existence of God comforting for a variety of reasons, some good and some not so good, and I have no issue with their beliefs. I have found none of these reasons relevant to my life, and therefore have no reason to care whether God exists or not. My life goes on exactly the same in either case."

what an atheist think when he hear a man of science says : my results force me to admit there is a God.

"That is nice"

If a belief in God makes a person a better scientist, or a better person I am all for it. If however, the belief makes herm bigoted, or self righteous, I am likely to oppose herm attempts to proselytize or otherwise force bigotry on the rest of the world. The belief that bigotry comes from God gives them no pass. It just condemns their God. As Jesus said Matt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Rotten fruits are evidence of a rotten God.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tax Churches' entertainment venues.

Help- "Proof" issues - Beliefnet Forums:

Tax breaks for providing services to the community that the government cannot afford to provide. I think that is reasonable.

If churches registered their charities as 501(c) organizations separate from their entertainment venues, I would have no problems with deductions to those charities. I do have a problem with special tax treatment for the entertainment venues aka churches and the entertainers who perform in them aka preachers, pastors, ministers etc. I especially object to religious organizations selling tax exempt property without paying back taxes on it out of the proceeds."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Write your congressperson, sign petition, do something

Stop the Sneak Attack on Greater Yellowstone Wolves - The Petition Site: "



Stop the Sneak Attack on Greater Yellowstone Wolves
Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sponsored by: Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

With the clock running out on the Bush/Cheney Administration, federal officials have launched a final attempt to ram through a plan that could lead to the slaughter of as many as two-thirds of the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Rockies wolf population."

Or as Tom Toles warns

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Survival

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums:

The desire to survive is a sentiment.

The genes to compel survival are dominant and active in all animals including humans that are alive today. From the single celled amoeba to those miraculous culminations of all those evolutionary selection activities, my grandsons, the compulsion to eat and breathe, and
Run and find out (thanks Ricki-Ticki-Tavi)
in other words survive in the modern world, is alive and well and involves no sentiment at all."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why a Jesuist?

Who do people say the Son of Man is? - Beliefnet Forums:

"Paul is the reason I am not a Christian. God is the reason I am an atheist. Jesus is the reason I and many nominal Christians are Jesuists."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Can I join the Circus now?

Ben Sargent documents the Republicans latest attempt to stay in the public eye. Hey, if you can't govern them, at least you can entertain them.

Forrest Church discusses the odds.

STANFORD Magazine: Forrest Church Book Excerpt:
Believe me, there's nothing like a kick toward the flag to get the old blood pumping and the crowd off their bums cheering. Besides, without even trying, you've already won the only race that really matters. Unconsciously, yet omnipresent, you ran the gauntlet of stars and genomes to assume your full, nothing less than miraculous, place in the creation. Being alive to love and hurt, to fail and recover, to prove your grit and show compassion, that is life's true secret.


Leave it to Stanford to pick out the unusual in Forrest's new book. And leave it to Forrest to turn Silky Sullivan's loss in the Kentucky Derby into an inspiring sermon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Catholics are irrelevant.

Priest Calls Vote for Obama a Mortal Sin - On Faith at washingtonpost.com:

"'Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law,' Rev. Jay Scott Newman wrote in a letter to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville.

'Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.'"

As if anyone needed any more evidence. All of the Catholics I know are by now bypassing their priests and dealing directly with God. All the priests are for is to make the soothing noises in the Mass, and bless the Eucharist. A few parishes have reasonable priests that they can talk to, but the rest....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Nambu, Kobayasi, and Maskawa

Greetings and congratulations from my sister and Poet Laureate


To Nambu, Kobayasi, and Maskawa,
Physics Nobel Prize Winners, 2008

with apologies to William Blake


A break in the symmetry--how cosmic a thought;
A break in the symmetry, and all that it wrought.
We’d none of us be here, not you and not me,
Were it not for a break in the first symmetry.

Curious Adam and gullible Eve,
Banished from Eden, as some folks believe,
Their tale of the apple would simply not be,
Had there not been a break in their symmetry.

Mendel and Darwin, asymmetrical sages,
Genetic codes journeying down through the ages;
Ten million mutations, strange creatures to see,
All due to that break in the great symmetry.

One infinitesimal break, so inconspicuously small,
That even old Einstein didn’t see it at all;
Now wonder of wonders, the Bang and the bee,
All thanks to that break in the first symmetry.

Consider the outcomes--or just nevermind;
‘Tis likely my DNA’s about to unwind,
Some slight imperfection on a upsidedown spree,
Seeking new breaks in my symmetry.

© 2008 Bonnie Black

Will the Requiem for religion be played on Twitter?

Humanist Question : "

From where I stand [religion] is mind control and if people can learn to break free from that bondage and question limits they are not 'suppose to' question it would be like another renaissance period!


If you think back to the renaissance and religion what do you think of? Gutenberg gave the bible to the people and broke the power of the priesthood in interpreting the will of God. The increase in literacy and all the Bills thinking 4 themselves
after using the Bible to learn to read lead inevitably to the Enlightenment and the rise of ordinary people to political power as a counterforce to the power of the church.

The internet social networking may be the next and final blow to the power of religion. Web 2.0 divorced Obama from the Democratic party, and will almost certainly divorce most young adults from the need for the church as a social networking organization. When the Mullahs and the Bishops can say behave this way or you will never find a lover and make it stick, their power is increased by those there only for the social networking.

When you have to twitter on your iPhone to get the attention of your roommate at the other computer, you aren't going to waste time going to church to find a suitable partner for fun and games. "What are you doing?" "OO 4 swty sprt - Gd /rqd" The Mullahs and Bishops scream but calls to prayers on Twitter are not likely to even be read.

GM's future

According to Tony Auth


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama on his faith.

Obama's Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani - Steven Waldman:

"I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.

I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.

I think that, particularly as somebody who's now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there's an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty."

This whole interview, just after he was nominated for the Senate race in Illinois, is well worth reading

Christmas time again

Pharyngula: Oy, it's War on Christmas time again:

It is OK to say 'Merry Christmas'. Even I have been known to say it. Go ahead, have a good time with the greeting, although it does rather rip the spirit out of it if you say it through clenched teeth with furrowed brow, looking like you're daring everyone to object so you can punch them in the throat. It's also OK to say 'Happy Solstice,' 'Season's Greetings,' 'Happy Holidays,' and 'Merry Cephalopodmas,' whatever feels right to you."

I have always liked "Wolcum Yole!" which Benjamin Britten popularized in his Ceremony of Carols. It seems to be a 14th Century folk song. that he used as his text for the opening piece after the processional.

I think the Ceremony of Carols is a wonderful celebration of all that is good about an English Christmas. Lots of pagan rhythms and fun winter party music.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A million small donors

If the world could vote - Beliefnet Forums:

"I think the most important fact of the election was the million or so people who donated less than $200 to the campaign. We got nothing but spam for it, but the fact that so many contributed to his success is I think significant and personally I hope the spam continues with opportunities for feedback. Yeah, it will be poll data, but poll data from those that spent the bucks to help."

Monday, November 3, 2008

What is wrong with civil unions?

Why are Christians so obsessed with homosexuality and gay marriage? - Beliefnet Forums:

"The problem I have with civil unions is the separate but equal issue. It is the old, gays are all right as long as they lock the bedroom door and exit the house by separate doors. If my life partner, in my case female, needs some help with the bureaucracy, I want to have the status of spouse so that I can climb all over the idiots behind the desk. That is why we got the marriage certificate and had the ceremony to celebrate it. We could have had the sex and the living together without all the hassle and fuss, but it would not have been marriage. That is what you are asking the gay's to do. No marriage, no respect for the partner. It is that simple."

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums: "You may sit out this election, which I admit is better than voting for McCain ... But there is a huge difference in which Christian God is going to be driving the Government. Your choice is the hate filled Christian™ God of those who think Atheists are not Americans or the UCC God which is inclusive and comparatively tolerant."

Pharyngula

Pharyngula: "Has anybody thought to look at what Bill Ayers actually promotes? He has a website, and it's trivial to look up what he's advocating. For instance, here is a description of his book, Teaching Toward Feedom:"

I was there in New York when the Weathermen were active. I chose other ways to protest the dysfunctional presidency of the time, but I was certainly a fellow traveler in protesting the war and the hate filled presidency. This was in the 60s not the 00s

Alaska Road would Destroy Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge - The Petition Site

Alaska Road would Destroy Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge - The Petition Site: "7:17 am PST, Nov 3, Carlin Black, California


If Alaska destroys its wildlife refuges it might as well sink the cruise boats. Those of us from the South 48 don't visit for the roads, and we resent the destruction of migratory bird habitat."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote NO on Prop H8.

- Beliefnet Forums:

"Bad Christians need Christ, and the rest of Paul to justify their evil.

This is not an academic issue.

Christians are promoting Proposition H8 in California as we write."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Palin - The mighty hunter

First the moose, then wolves, now elephants.

Tom Toles

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The gay marriage wedge.

Why are Christians so obsessed with homosexuality and gay marriage? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I think homosexuality and gay marriage are simply the politically correct whipping boys for those Christians that accept the Pauline principle that sex is for procreation only and any other expression of sexuality is sin. It would be hard to generate a political movement against recreational sex in general but homosexuality and gay marriage are wedge issues that can establish the legitimacy of political regulation of sexual activities.

First the gays, then the fornicators, and pretty soon cameras in the bedrooms to insure no contraception and the missionary position only."

Forrest Church -Link to personal website.

Forrest Church, Theologian and Author:

"Available now from Beacon Press:

Forrest Church's highly praised new book,
Love and Death

'The story of the Rev. Forrest Church of the All Soul's Church in Manhattan is a profile in courage. Not just for his lifelong work helping those less fortunate, but for his perseverance in the face of a fatal illness.'"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Atheism's roots.

Expelled discussion - Beliefnet Forums:

"My atheism is firmly rooted in the dysfunctional morality and meaning promoted by theists and especially by the Abrahamic tradition in the Talmud and derivatives and by Pauline Christianity. The fact that they also promote bad science of all kinds is sort of the stem on the cherry. There are so many more important issues that if someone sees me sucking on the stem they shouldn't think it is the only thing I care about."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I have been reading Heinlein most of my life, and have always appreciated how he manages to create interesting, meaningful, purposeful and moral societies in his stories without God. I don't necessarily agree with all of the details in all of them, but in general I can say that Heinlein speaks for me as an atheist exposing the lie that meaning, purpose and morality come only from God.

I appreciate the fact that Heinlein preferred the liveliness of the market place rather than the halls of academia for his philosophical musings. Maybe all the best philosophers are good story tellers.

He was, and is, an influential social arbitrator, in spite of all the efforts to ban his books from our libraries and schools. The God Squad recognizes the danger. But the books still sell and are discussed in intelligent circles."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Freethought Halls of the Internet

Atheist Activism - Beliefnet Forums:

"Perhaps it is time to devote more effort to establishing a global network of Freethought Halls to serve as an alternative to faith-based outreach programs.

You are in it. It is called the Internet.

This is one of the halls. There are many others.

Even the thought police of the theocracies cannot block the satellite internet signals, although they can make the computers that receive them contraband. But book burning and computer banning cannot work, because the freethought underground will hand copy the important tracts if necessary."

Goldwater, Obama and American Politics.

Libertarianism: - Beliefnet Forums:

"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.
Barry Goldwater

Our last great attempt to elect a Libertarian.

Unfortunately, also the last election where it was not necessary to choose between two nutcases. At least this election only two of the four are nutcases. I still think Hillary was the best president we ever had, too bad she had to marry a nutcase to get elected, but American politics has always been like that. At least Obama is overqualified as is necessary for a minority in this country.

Ah, American Politics. Maybe the internet will change that finally, so that an intelligent, qualified and maybe some time even an atheist candidate would have a chance at being elected."

Humanity's fall away from God is our salvation

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums:

"If opposing those like Hitler are reflections of man's fallen nature, thank you, I will fall back on my basic humanity, and my social morality associated with it of opposing leaders of all stripes using hatred, bigotry and fear to motivate 'their people.' If some of these leaders claim to be motivated by God, they get no pass from those motivated by the basic human morality of respect and tolerance for all who reciprocate in kind.

Unfortunately, some little Christian tinhorns in fancy dresses in the overdecorated balconies, use these tactics in the image of God and must be opposed. Those of us who must fall back on our basic human morality, will try to use non-violent opposition where possible, which sometimes gets us in trouble, but the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, both dark skinned you may note, unlike the white skin in the depictions of God in most Christian churches, give us hope that our basic human morality will ultimately prevail."

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Historical Jesus

The Historical Christ non-existant? - Beliefnet Forums:

"If you strip the obvious miracles, especially the resurrection, which Christians cannot do of course without destroying their faith, you find a charismatic itinerant preacher, who integrated a consistent message of radical humanism and independence from the god mediators, priests, and shamans. It was a theistic culture so it is not surprising that he would believe in God. The core of his message was to develop a personal relationship with God directly, no priests necessary or even desirable, and treat all humans as neighbors to be respected, aided when necessary even at considerable cost to yourself, and loved as one loves oneself....

Cults are not started by committees, which for me argues strongly that there was a historical person that was the basis for the Jesus cult for which there is some historical evidence, Paul's Christian Cult. for which there is ample historical support, the Gnostic cults, for which historical documentation has recently been discovered, and other cults rumored but for which no documentation exists.

It is clear to me that this historical person was a human that lived and died in the usual human fashion. He believed in God, but was not one himself. He was the earliest documented humanist, and I think all humanists, theistic and atheistic are indebted to him, if not obligated to worship him.

37...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38This is the first and great commandment.
39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40 (King James Version)


I find the first optional, clearly an artifact of his culture. All of humanism hangs on the second."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama's negative ad

As I was leaving the debate midway, McCain complained about Obama's attack ad on his medical care proposal. If attacking an idiotic centerpiece of an opponent's campaign is negative campaigning, I would like to hear a clue from McCain on a reasonable debate. But then, that would assume McCain has an clue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

God and Evil Cont.

Why Athism? - Beliefnet Forums:

"Almost all Gods that are at the root of evil are believed to be supernatural. Frankly, I don't think the secular gods like money, power, prestige etc. carry enough belief intensity to compel evil. If a person cannot believe the claim 'God made me do it,' I don't think any sane human is capable of evil.

Disclaimer to our respectful guests: God is also capable of motivating much that is exceptionally good for believers and the world. And also that which is good for believers and their societies. Unfortunately, much of it depends on that little tinhorn in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony who interprets the will of God."

God - The Root of Evil

Why Athism? :

"
I would probably say selfishness is the root of all evil more than fear.

Nope.

God is the root of all evil. I don't care what God it is. Evil done by people is always in the service of their God."

Trickle down economics

Finally we really get to see what they mean.

Tom Toles.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Make the good people nice.

uuworld.org Meg Barnhouse: the church and the unicorn:
"We know we are supposed to be kind and loving and not jump down each other’s throats for not getting the right kind of free-trade coffee or greeting visitors too enthusiastically. I heard a poem on the radio the other day, part of which was a prayer: “Ye Gods…make the bad people good—and the good people nice.”

Honey, we’re trying."

Make the good people nice. If God could do that I might even believe in Herm.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Life After Death?

Life After Death? - Beliefnet Forums:

"
...does it also mean that you don't believe in some sort of existence beyond this one? Or are those two totally separate things--so would you find some who do and some who don't?

I would suspect that a person that does not put herm faith in God would have first resolved the Pascal Wager and arranged their life so that an afterlife is irrelevant. That is if there is one all participate, doing pretty much what they did in observable life with no sorting, hence no placating an alleged sorter. But in my experience most atheists think it is such a long shot that they don't think about it at all."

For me it is simply a pleasant fantasy to assist in remembering and celebrating those who are dead. As in: it would be nice to ask Beethoven what he was thinking about in the third movements of the first and third piano concertos. Was it really a children's playground? The chances of it happening after I die? Nil. But it happened just now, and in a real sense this might be Beethoven's afterlife.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

On pricks, dicks and cunts.

the gods: "
We hear all the four letter words on TV at 7:30 every night. No big deal.
Funny how some find the C-word offensive but don't mind people being called 'dicks' or 'pricks'. Reverse sexism, perhaps?

As Tom Lehrer noted in the release of his remains, 25 years ago there were certain words you couldn't use around girls. Today you can use them all, you just can't call them girls.

As for dicks and pricks the best insult I ever heard was a NYC Cab driver: 'Hey, lady, you don't have to have one to be one!' The crowded intersection at 8th St and 5th Ave dissolved into laughter with of course one exception."

Friday, October 3, 2008

Palin - Debate performance.

McCain - Beliefnet Forums: "There is something to be said for setting expectations so low that just getting down the track without tripping over the lines marking the places for the hurdles is considered a brilliant performance."

Is God just spiritual experience?

Why Athism? - Beliefnet Forums: "I don't think spiritual experience is supernatural at all. I think it is a basic, indeed primitive human need. But I also see no reason not to strip God of all of Herm supernatural accretions, and use God as a referent for spiritual experience.

I will admit that disambiguation from the supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid may be a greater challenge than I am up to, but I have come to the conclusion that God and that spiritual experience are one and the same. I also think it is what theists are trying to convey with their blather about God being the beauty of the cosmos, or a pretty sunset, or a butterfly."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Can believer Bob make up his God?

Why Athism? - Beliefnet Forums: "
There's no such thing as external charters from God since it's all made up internally by humans.

This is a strong assertion and needs strong support.

Are you saying that each believer makes up herm own God out of herm own mind? Where does the background information come from? Why is the God each believer makes up nearly identical with the God of everybody else in herm church or synagogue? Frankly, I don't think most believers are intelligent enough to create a God internally that has all the attributes of most modern Gods."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Musical Transcendence

Why Athism? - Beliefnet Forums: There are certain circumstances other than religious groups where a transcendent consciousness may be experienced. On rare occasions as a musician I have felt a resonance with the audience, and as an audience member a resonance with the musician(s) in which I feel I am sharing in the experience of the music in a way that transcends my own limited capability to understand the music. My own background in music is of course part of the greater whole, but only a small part when everything works right."

Collective God.

Why Athism? - Beliefnet Forums:
"I am convinced that a material brain can be part of a greater consciousness composed of other material brains with a similar background of myths, mores, and beliefs. I think this greater consciousness is quite natural, and quite local. The myths especially may contain supernatural beings, but the supernatural components are simply mnemonics and focusing devices for the local group to tune into. I also have no issue with calling this greater consciousness God, with the understanding that God exists naturally, only within the local group, and has no influence, for lack of a better word, outside of that local group. At this stage of my understanding I think the group is small, on the order of a few tens or hundreds of people, but it would not be inconceivable to me that the group could be larger. As an atheist I do not participate in any of these God groups, nor have I seen any advantage to trying to do so. "

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Forrest's Last Sermon Again

His Death Postponed, a Minister Repeats His Farewell Sermon - NYTimes.com: "The Rev. Forrest Church gazed out from his pulpit on Sunday and, in a steady voice, delivered what may or may not be his last sermon — for the fifth time."

And may he deliver it many times over. For 30 years my only minister, through the good years, through the tough years of change 20 years ago, when eventually I left New York and my life there with $150 excess baggage mostly my speakers, to start over. He ministered happily by phone, on my occasional return trips to NYC and on line sermons. He was my first Google alert and it has been fun finding comments on his journey from all over, with the occasional Forrest speaking in his Church that Google finds as well.

He early taught me to live my life so that it will be worth dying for, and I have been trying unsuccessfully to emulate his example. His Cathedral with many windows has been my spiritual home since he helped me find it. It has made me a much more tolerant and intelligent atheist, as some of the many windows used by my religious friends have some wondrous light to enjoy.

So once again, many thanks and a virtual hug to my mentor, friend and minister. And thanks to the Times for the hug photo. So typical and all of us will slip right into that dark suit.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reflections in humanity.

"Find Me" on the internet - Beliefnet Forums: "
Yes....'lost' in the sense of 'because nobody really 'gets me' I'm not sure about myself sufficiently to know where, who and what I am.'Just like a mirror reflects images that allow us to see ourselves, so too other humans reflect our images/thoughts/ideas back to us as they see them; when those reflections align with our perceptions, we feel 'known' and successful.

Finding others to reflect our images/thoughts is one of the hardest things about being atheist. A theist can find that reflection in God if not in the community of herm church. I would find the reflection in an imaginary being unsatisfying, and even a reflection in the community wouldn't be good enough for me. I need a real person, or a once real person like Jefferson, or even an internet real person like many of you here, to provide that reflection of perception that validates our being alive. Thank you, all of you who are providing the reflection for me, I hope I am adequately returning the favor."

Dear American

McCain, you must be joking!!! - Beliefnet Forums: "'Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you."

Friday, September 26, 2008

McCain's got policies.

Luckovich

Selecting the Bail Outs


Davies
Can we just ignore the fire on Wall St.?

I am having a Katrina moment


Oliphant
When all about you are blaming it on you....
Notice the shrub in the right center, and Uncle Dick's comment.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

As Is Legislation


Ben Sargent
And we all know how well the Patriot Act worked out.

The Bridge to Nowhere


Oliphant
Palin and McCain learn foreign policy from Wylie Coyote.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Does God Exist?

Pascal's Wager : "Whether God exists or not is of no importance. Hesh may or may not, it makes no difference to me at all. Even if Hesh existed I would not worry about God judging me, as I am judged constantly in every thing that I do by my fellow humans and of course by the harshest judge of all, myself. If God exists I will be judged by how responsible I was to my family, my friends, and my society, and ultimately by how well I executed the moral values taught to me throughout my life by my family, my friends, and my society. Any God that would use any other criteria is not a God but a petty tyrant."

McCain, you must be joking!!!

McCain, you must be joking!!! :

Remember it was McCain's lack of social conservative cred that gave the Huckabee campaign so much traction to begin with. It is pretty obvious that McCain's 'turn to the right' on social issues is just an election year ploy and not an indicator of what his policies would be.

So lets see, I just ignore the evidence of the Palin appointment and the $ource$ of the money in his campaign, and have faith that there will be pie in the sky by and by. Maybe God will provide.

I'll work for Obama, thank you, at least his campaign is WYSIWYG. No betting on a return to policies that were simply political ploys then. The straight talk express is simply a glider. It goes wherever the $political wind$ blow it."

"Find Me" on the internet

"Find Me" on the internet - Beliefnet Forums:
When asked what he wants most in life, August answers, "To be found." This, I believe, is one of the most profound and simple statements one human can make and it explains an innate purpose for living that we rarely admit to ourselves. What good would there come from 'living forever' if you had to do it "alone?" I say "alone" in the sense that you might be surrounded by people, even family, that don't necessarily "find you."

One of the wonders of the internet is that almost insignificant minorities, in our case atheists, can 'find' one another and make connections that can in some cases transcend death. In response to a blog post you mentioned our late friend from the "late" boards at beliefnet Charles Fiterman. I responded with an obscure reference to his appreciation thread and his daughter asked me about it on the blog. In effect, you must have been a friend of my father, but I don't know you. Who are you?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Indoctrinating Children

Do believers really believe? - Beliefnet Forums: "It is quite natural for humans to indoctrinate their children in the ways of their society. In fact it would be inhuman not to. If the ways of their society are religious, as they are for much of the world, indoctrinating children to believe instead of think is natural and will insure that the child will fit right in with the society of which hesh is a part.

Whether this is a good thing for a modern, knowledge based, cosmopolitan society, is an entirely different question which I think will be answered naturally by social evolution. Those societies where the children are indoctrinated to think rather than believe, seem to be ascendant (I am talking China and India here) and those societies where children are taught to believe seem to be having trouble even maintaining their infrastructure."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Assembly of a lesser god

uuworld.org : assembly of a lesser god: "Belief and worship are powerful tools for organizing thought and behavior. If others get control of those tools, they can make us dance like puppets. But if we’re careful, we can learn to pull our own strings."

The article and conclusion are probably not worth reading. The abstract says it all except:

Evolution has strongly reinforced the traits for belief and worship. We have them whether we like them or not.

The placebo effect works. All you have to do is believe. Believe it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cranky and Bullslinger

Lalo Alcaraz — Gocomics.com: Comics, editorial cartoons, email comics, comic strips

John and Sarah who?

Whose hand in the cookie jar?


Glen McCoy

The only problem is that Obama’s hand isn’t in the cookie jar. It is McCain that is addicted to the fat cat’s cookies. My few bucks to Obama didn’t even buy me a cookie crumb. It did get me some spam however.

Follow the leader.

Walks like a Duck:
What a hoax perpetuated on humanity, some clever guy invents a 'God' patterned after a King, realizing that would make his religion acceptable to the King, and is able to hoodwink billions! It shows that we haven't progressed much from the cave man times.

There are good reasons that humans have evolved a trait to follow almost blindly a strong leader. In times of serious social stress it is fatal to ones genome to do otherwise. It may be fatal to ones genome to follow the wrong strong leader, but that is a different issue, and is the reason I said 'almost blindly.' It is important to choose one's leader wisely when possible.

The most pernicious aspect of religion is not that it co-opts this trait, this is necessary and useful for most people, but that it damns any questioning of the leader. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me is the first commandment of any God, and even thinking about another is grounds for excommunication. In many societies excommunication can be fatal to the genome, so blind faith in the 'God of our Fathers' is a strongly reinforced trait.

The Enlightenment exposed the men behind the curtain of God, and allowed even the religious, at least the religious whose reasoning facility had not been totally suppressed, to begin to choose their God, or no god if that seemed preferable. Excommunication is still not pleasant, but it is no longer fatal. One intelligent enough to question herm god is usually intelligent enough to find a more benevolent God or make herm way in the secular society.
__________________"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parentocracy

Libertarianism: : "Personally I prefer a Parentocracy, where those capable of providing a home for children are the only ones with a franchise. Bring in a kid's report card and you can vote. It can be old, or a grandkid's will work, but proof of school age children once in the household is required.

Parents have a vested interested in the long term viability of their society, and have demonstrated their willingness to accept responsibility for their actions. Sure there will be flakes and idiots that slip through the cracks, but overall parents would be the best choice for the franchise."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Gender inclusive pronouns

Hell - Beliefnet Forums:
Heshe?
Anne Heche?

I am sorry but these pretentious gender-neutral pronouns used here strike me as a complete and utter wank. Wanky, wankish and wanker inspired.

The term is gender inclusive. (Your sexist bias is showing. Only males wank.)

If you prefer he/she/it, pronounced heesheeit in ordinary conversation when you are talking about a person or entity the gender of which is unimportant, be my guest. Or perhaps you would like to emphasize the feminine, she/he/it pronounced sheeheeit a very common expletive in the south of the US.

Language is important to our thinking, as we think in language. I live with a couple of people whose native language is Asian. Occasionally communication in English is difficult because of some of the language based assumptions in their (and my) thinking. As a relevant example people are not referred to as having gender in some Asian languages. Everybody is referred to as she, balls or not. It does color their thinking as referring to testosterone driven activities of a certain gender will go over their heads as they don't think in gender terms.

I find it useful to think that way myself, and have created some pronouns to help me do so. They are occasionally jarring to my thinking but in general it is a good thing, as it highlights the sexist assumptions that are built into my language. As a relevant example a famous scientist was unable to introduce a female full professor to a room full of people because his language had no word for female colleague.

I was involved peripherally in making the UU hymnal gender neutral, and was quite surprised to find how sexism colored my thinking about God. The God I rejected as a youthful atheist had balls and a prick which He used to fuck everybody that crossed Him.

Thinking of God as a gender neutral Parent combining the qualities of mom as well as dad changed my view of God considerably. He wasn't a testosterone driven asshole anymore, but a helping mentor. A teacher, professor type who never got upset with mistakes, (but never forgave them and made one get it right no matter how long it took.) Ultimately that view didn't work for me as God either, but it did help me organize my internal image of the group of mentors, male and female that determined the morality and purpose in my life. "

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fight God's politicians, not God

Richard Dawkins' Fallacious Central Argument - Beliefnet Forums: "There is something called God out there that keeps theists motivated to spend their time and money. Presumably there is some benefit for them to do so. Arguing about whether God has balls or teats, whether God is a creator or not, or whether God is omni-anything seems to me futile. As atheists we should concentrate on those things that cause politicians to think God's rules apply to everybody."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Immaterial thoughts

Richard Dawkins' Fallacious Central Argument - Beliefnet Forums: "I diverge from the materialists in that I find credible evidence that thoughts and ideas are more than just electrical and chemical impulses in the brain, although those electrical and chemical impulses are necessary for the creation of the thought or idea. But there seems to be a resonance in the brain that we identify as a thought or idea. It would be analogous to a note played on a piano. It is identifiable as a piano note rather than a washtub base note because of the complex resonances in the piano that shape and color the note. True the hammer must strike the string to produce the resonances, but the vibration of the string is only the start of the sound of a piano note. Now that I think of it, the sound of a piano is is an immaterial, identifiable referent that is neither imaginary nor non-existent."

Is Palin's hate for atheists real?

Richard Dawkins' Fallacious Central Argument - Beliefnet Forums: "
But until someone tells us the objective test to distinguish the immaterial from the imaginary and the non-existent, we have no concept of what 'immaterial' might mean.

Which is really nobody's problem but yours. Most of us have a mind that is comfortable with unmeasurable concepts, and things we may not be able to demonstrate with objective tests. There is no objective test for emotional states, as an example, but the ability to recognize and deal with subtle differences in emotional states is critical to our survival as humans. Indeed critical to the survival of most higher animals.

Shall we not consider the emotional state of our neighbors just because Blü can't measure them? I don't know about you Kemo sabe but Palin appears to me to hate atheists. Perhaps we better do something even though we have no objective test to distinguish this hate from the imaginary or non-existent."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Immaterial things.

Richard Dawkins' Fallacious Central Argument - Beliefnet Forums: "The absence of evidence for a material God is persuasive so God if anything is immaterial. But the argument that immaterial means imaginary requires some support other than it has to be that way. I can think of many immaterial things which exist, at least for me. Joy, love, and multi-person experiences like the occasional synchrony of emotion of a performer and an audience, mass hysteria, and I would argue the experience of God in a church or synagogue. I do not think joy, and love are delusions, illusions, or confusions, although I would be hard pressed to present any evidence other than personal testimony that I have experienced both."

The God is a delusion delusion.

Richard Dawkins' Fallacious Central Argument - Beliefnet Forums: "Absence of evidence is never evidence of absence. You and others are claiming that belief in God is a delusion. You can't even prove that belief in the tooth fairy is a delusion. The fact that the tooth fairy is a parent does not make the belief delusional, just that the referent is incorrect. I would say that the arguments from unaided reason in God have failed. But all that proves is that a supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid creator is the incorrect referent for God, despite the lies of the YECs.

Please present proof that the belief of my friend in his Catholic God is delusional. It is not obvious to me that it is. He and his recent wife seemed to consider it very important that their God bless their union, and that they properly celebrated the belief that God brought them together. He has no burden of proof, he doesn't care what you think about his belief in God. He has no burden of proof to me either, it is quite obvious to me that his belief in God is real and I will out of courtesy at least assume he is sane and sincere in his belief.

As noted elsewere I think his God is real. I am not sure what the referent is as I have not been able to connect recently with the Catholic God. I have not tried recently as the Catholic God is irrelevant for me, and there is no"

Christian Spirit

Hell - Beliefnet Forums: "Christian spirit is quite bimodal these days. The followers of Paul's Christ have a rather hateful view of themselves and others that breeds a nasty, judgmental spirit. The followers of Jesus generally have a spirit inspired by the Two Great Commandments and are generally pleasant to associate with. Both groups call themselves Christian, but as Christians are wont to say by their fruits ye will know them. If hesh calls himself Christian and is a good neighbor hesh is a Jesus Christian, and if hesh spouts hate and venom hesh is a Pauline Christian."

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On spiritual 'beings'

Richard Dawkins' Fallacious Central Argument - Beliefnet Forums:
What objective test will distinguish a 'spiritual being' from an imaginary being?

A spiritual being is a presence felt by a group of people in a spiritual setting, usually but not always a church, that is clearly separate from and independent of the imaginary world of an individual member of the group. This presence is accessible by an individual but is harder to distinguish from an imaginary being. By the way 'being' is metaphorical in this usage as the presence is a collective creation and has no independent existence.

The objective test that can be used is to find common qualities of the presence among members of the group that are beyond the experience of individual members of the group. It can be observed by an independent observer in behavior of members of the group in, for instance, participating in the Eucharist, speaking in tongues, or assembling to commit to Jesus."

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Sun Will Eventually Engulf Earth--Maybe: Scientific American

The Sun Will Eventually Engulf Earth--Maybe: Scientific American: "The sun is slowly expanding and brightening, and over the next few billion years it will eventually desiccate Earth, leaving it hot, brown and uninhabitable." And by that time we, that would be human descendants living at the time, would have moved the earth to a more favorable location. The delta V would not be impossible and they would probably use the radiation from the sun as the energy for something like a solar sail on the moon to drag the system out.

Historical Jesus

The Bible and atheists - Beliefnet Forums: "Given the fact of a strong, reliable, oral tradition among ordinary people in the Roman empire, and a tendency in that culture to deify prophets and emperors, I think it is necessary to look beyond the manifest fictions for the truth of the stories about Jesus.

The existence of a cult whose names and characters have been preserved in the stories argues strongly for the existence for a leader for that cult. People do not generally risk reputation and possibly their lives for a cobbled together philosophy or religion. Also crowds generally do not gather for panel discussions of religion or anything else. The cult had a spokesperson, Ockham's beloved razor says the spokesperson was Jesus and that he assembled and preached the stories that form the basis of his ministry.

The other very strong argument is that a contemporary religious charlatan needed a God like man as a marketing tool to be the savior for his followers who he had convinced were sinners in need of a savior. This charlatan hijacked the charisma and one of the miracles associated with Jesus as the basis for his savior Jesus, now Christ Jesus. The fact that his followers accepted the transfer of the charisma from Jesus to the Christ argues strongly that a popular preacher existed within their lifetimes who could believably be thought of as the Christ.

Note tha"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Creation: 100 words or less.

Was there an "aaaah" moment? - Beliefnet Forums:
"How do you perceive our creation?

What creation? Matter coalesced into stars and planets. On some planets, at least one that we are sure of, self-replicating molecules formed and became more adept at gathering resources for replicating. More complex forms of replicators were more successful in gathering resources for replicating. An ability to respond to input from the environment was valuable to replicators, and sensory systems became common. As sensory systems became more and more complex subtle responses to the environment were useful, and people like me learned to ignore lies of theists no matter how often repeated."

Friday, September 5, 2008

There is a difference in the money.

Reprinted with permission 1-800-843-0008 An amazing chart in this article. Divide the less than $200 dollar total by $200 to get the number of donors. Then multiply it by your estimate of average donation under $200. Lots of people. Note as much as the Fat Cats.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On Hate speech and Christian bigotry.

Why are so many Fundamentalist Christians Obessed with Homosexuality? - Beliefnet Forums: "I am a firm believer in speech of any kind. Ignorant speech, bigoted speech, hate speech, downright vile speech. Such speech clearly indicates the character and morality of the speaker.

I am also a firm believer in verbally countering as forcefully as necessary such speech 'and the horse the speaker rode in on.' If that horse is Christianity and Christians object to my characterizing Christian tenets that I counter as ignorant, bigoted or hateful, even though they come from The Bible, it is up to the Christians to lovingly and clearly rebuke their fellow Christians for the misinterpretation of that Bible that allows the ignorance, bigotry and hate."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lies, theft and lust. Why does God do these things?

An Atheist Meets God - Beliefnet Forums:

So that means you never lied, stolen, lusted after someone?

I am an atheist. I don't do those kind of things.

As I was learning to be a responsible person in my society I may have made some mistakes, which is after all how we learn, but as for intentionally violating my moral standards, I would find that very hard to do. I don't have a Get Out of Hell Free Card, so if I hurt someone else I must do what I can to make things right. My rewards and punishments are in the here and now, and are assessed by my friends and neighbors.

Lying to my neighbor, stealing herm property, even a song or a pencil, or fooling around with herm spouse or daughter would be a sure way to make my life miserable. I would not do that.

God however, does these things all the time. Hesh even knocked up another guy's wife. It is no wonder Hesh gives everybody who follows Herm example a Get Out of Hell Free Card. Hesh and Herm followers really need one."

Christian™ Schooling."

In a comment here it was requested that we hold McCain's feet to the fire on ID in the schools. While this is an important symbolic issue if anything ID in the schools will drive Christians™ out of public schools due to ridicule in the science classes.

The far bigger issue is the inadequate schooling in science and technology provided by Christian™ schooling whether in Christian™ schools or home schooling. There is no way in a free country to do anything about this but I suspect that the next generation of Christians™ will be so far behind in science and technology as to be unemployable. It will be interesting to see if the kids rebel and insist on public schooling.

Traditionally Catholic schools have done well in general education including science and technology, I wonder about their current curriculum. Anybody know?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jefferson Bible

Dawkins Scale - Beliefnet Forums: "I find the Jefferson Bible useful in focusing on just what it was that induced Jesus' cult (the original disciples) to follow the Roman custom of making a God out of any special person. It is not to be read instead of the Gospels, but along with them.

I think the deification of Jesus was also critical in preserving the Gospels in the canon after Paul trashed his message to create the Christ he needed to save Christians from the sins that Jesus seemed to care little about. Reading the Jefferson Bible along with Paul is an exercise in cognitive dissonance that makes one wonder why Paul chose Jesus."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A life worth dying for.

Hell - Beliefnet Forums: "I suspect that I am much closer to death both in age and in the experience of the death of loved ones than you are. To quote a theist friend that I respect and admire who is now dying,

Birth and death are the hinges on which life hangs, insure you live a life worth dying for.
Forrest Church.


If there is anything after death, highly unlikely according to the evidence I have, it will have to be a continuation of the life one lived prior to death. Good people who paid attention to all their neighbors and tried to make their lives better will be remembered by those people well, and if there is any continuation of life will be able to meet those they have remembered well and those that remember them.

Whether or not there is a continuation after death, it is the fact of paying attention to all ones neighbors and trying to make their lives better that makes life worth dying for. Mistakes will be made, some neighbors have different and unknowable needs, but the mistakes will be of ignorance not some original sin that someone else had to die for.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Golden Weekend.

Tuesday night I hopped on the Jet Blue red eye to New York to re-experience Bob DeCormier conducting the Verdi Requiem. I knew it would be worth putting up with the heat, the humidity and all the other hassles of NYC for it. I tried to fill the downtime with a board of directors reunion, but Judy Rubin, both of them, had a better idea. Uptown Judy invited all who cared to come to her apartment down the street from the sing for wine and snacks prior to the sing. Midtown Judy promoted it to the alumni association and all the right people showed up including Bob and Louise. A great party setting just the right tone for the sing.

Bob exceeded my impossibly high expectations, and it is a good thing I knew the music well as half the time I couldn't read it through the tears.

By the way the weather was beautiful and the only downer of the weekend was that my nap was delayed due to a 3:00 check in time that BelleClaire beat by an hour and a half.

The next day I joined Rich and Margaret Greelish for Lunch and a boat tour of the fake waterfalls. The tour included a bonus of the Statue of Liberty for some reason, just more gold for the weekend.

The flight home was another bonus. The weather was clear all the way across the country and Jet Blue had XM to fill my noise suppressing earphones with good classical music both vocal and instrumental as I enjoyed the golden sunset all the way from the Midwest to San Jose. For the nitpickers it turned red about Denver, but it was just as golden while red.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jesus and progressive Christianity.

Dawkins Scale - Beliefnet Forums: "I also think that this message of respect for all people flew in the face of most religions before and since, including the one sold by Paul based on the charisma of this preacher. I think it is a very important message for the modern world where global interdependence is the reality of living. Modern 'Progressive' Christianity is doing the same thing Jefferson did, with a few more miracles for flavor, and stripping the Christian message to the Great Commandments. They do not give up God, or the divine Jesus, they are theists after all, but they do give up the exclusiveness and hatred that are part of the Abrahamic tradition."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bible Study.

What if you are wrong? - Beliefnet Forums: "I can look up on my active bookshelf and see 8 Bibles all of which I have read with intelligent understanding of what they are saying about God and the people who believe in God. I did not read them to buttress tales told to children and adults to cause them to worship God and support those who sell God. It is not surprising that we disagree on the content."

Incitement to kill?

The liberal poliical bias in the UUA - Beliefnet Forums: "I do not consider hate speech the only culpable incitement for sociopathological acts. Particularly from people in positions to claim to speak for a higher power. I am not speaking legally here. Just from the standpoint of society. 'God hates faggots, liberals, and Unitarians' is not saying go out and kill them. But if someone 'beset with personal demons' chooses to eliminate those whom God hates, can the promoter of that hate be held harmless? I think not."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Evolutionary success

Pet ownership an affront to Islam - Beliefnet Forums: "Numbers don't necessarily count for evolutionary success, see the buffalo, the passenger pigeon. or the dodo. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Islamic world when the oil money runs out. Just as it will be interesting to see what will happen to the religious right when their political power runs out. Their base is the poorest, the fattest, and the least educated in the US. In evolutionary terms success in measured in generations, fecundity is of course significant, but success in the modern world is measured in intellectual property, and using it effectively. It will be interesting to see how home schooling and Bible Colleges compete for the jobs at the next Google."

Copies of Copies

What if you are wrong? - Beliefnet Forums: "Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. So, the young monk gets worried and goes downstairs to look for him. He sees him banging his head against the wall, and wailing 'We forgot the 'R', we forgot the 'R'.' His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably. The young monk asks the old abbot, 'What's wrong, father?' With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, 'The word was 'celebrate'.....! '"

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Purpose in Life.

Looking for an Atheist - Beliefnet Forums:
Is it simply for the biological purpose of continuing the species?

This is a major misunderstanding of evolution and the universe in general. Biology has no purpose and neither does evolution. Evolution is just another scientific law. You put sodium and chlorine together you get salt. Not because somebody needs salt, or finds sodium or chlorine dangerous they are simply more stable as salt than separate. A species that is effective in filling an ecological niche has no purpose in filling the niche, but is a stable solution. The fact that filling the niche well increases the welfare and continuation of the species is a result not a purpose.

I have to find some other purpose in life than continuing the species because frankly a large part of my species is not worth continuing. Therefore I find purpose starting very locally. There are people whose welfare is integral with my own. They provide me with the intellectual challenge, love, sustenance and fun that makes my life worth living. By making my purpose to provide the same for those others I get a nice feedback loop that increases worth of all our lives. Although this starts locally, as one recognizes the importance of people outside of the face group ones purpose must expand as well to take into account the larger world one is a part of.

Believing in God.

Fundie Atheists? - Beliefnet Forums: "I do not believe in God. There is no God or god that I will accept as having any influence on me or that I will believe in or worship.

I was not aware that rejecting all evidence that other people believe in God was a requirement of atheism. And by the way where are these requirements written down? I think on another thread there are people arguing that there is no requirement for being an atheist and therefore fundamentalist atheist is an oxymoron. We are all open minded, going where ever the evidence leads us! The only reason we don't believe in God is that God has not provided unmistakable evidence of Herm existence.

Some people don't look very hard. I look harder than most but still have not found a God that works for me. I may have found gods that work for other people, but since none of them work for me I am an atheist by Ken's definition. I do not believe in God. It is not that I reject clear evidence of the existence of God, it is that the evidence does not convince me that belief would be useful for me."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Fundie Atheists

Fundie Atheists? - Beliefnet Forums: "You will note that I have been run out of the fundie atheist club for having the temerity to consider the possibility that God actually exists for theists. Which, of course, bothers me not a bit. It is a club I would not consider joining even if invited. One of the founders of this board, Charles Fiterman, had no problem with the existence of Gods. It was almost his tag line that Gods were small statues, emperors, and anything else that could coerce or induce belief. For him the defining characteristic of an atheist was not willingly believing in or worshiping such gods.

If someone wants to claim herm god is real and shits on a golden throne in heaven I have no problem saying 'That's nice, what can your god do for me?' Arguing about what the other person believes about the characteristics of God (it is never a god) including existence and attributes is a great way to learn nothing. But inviting the believer to talk about what hesh believes God can do for a non-believer is always amusing, and sometimes useful. I will actually suspend disbelief, that is temporarily believe God exists when attending church with a friend and when performing or rehearsing religious music. It is always useful, frequently I add to my knowledge about living and dying, and so far I have always been able to unsuspend the disbelief. In fact I learn most thinking about the experience afterward. What did I learn as a believer that I can use as an atheist. There is a reason some religions last thousands of years. They help people get through life."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Britten War Requiem

Just a quick explanation for my inattention over the last week. The San Francisco Choral Society which I sing with just performed the Britten War Requiem twice over the weekend. About 300 of us tried to fill Davies Symphony Hall in SF with this powerful work. Reviews were good so it was worth all the extra time and effort.

I am still decompressing, and have lots of catching up to do irl and online. Hope to be caught up soon.

Christian Heroes

What if you are wrong? - Beliefnet Forums: "Originally Posted by CaliberCadillac
Not when one remembers that this very precious treasure was a progressive revelation that started with the first man on earth, was perpetuated through the only family to survive a world wide deluge, re-initiated with Abraham, documented by Moses, and finally completed in Christ.

The character, morals, and behavior of all of these heroes of this progressive revelation and the implication that God found them to be the kind of people Hesh wanted to use as the foundation of Herm group of believers was the convincer that the God depicted was totally worthless and devoid of any qualities to inspire worship. BTW you forgot Lot."

On prayer

In my email:

A friend sent me an email this morning that was a chain letter about prayer.
The idea is that you say a prayer to bless the person who sent you the
email and then you forward the email to at least 5 of your friends who
will pray for you.

I didn't want to forward that particular email as it had pictures and
content that I didn't feel the need to share, especially as I am not a
member of the particular religion.
However, I sure did pray for her and I like the idea of "pay it
forward" email prayer.
A great deal of research has been done on the power of prayer and I
believe in it, even though I am still working on defining my specific
religious beliefs and spiritual identity.

I thought it would be nice to start again using my own thoughts and
words and make it personal and ask all of you to pray for me and mine
today.
I don't care if you forward this email on as it is or write one of
your own, but I think the internet prayer circle is a neat idea.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Live and Let Die

Is there a bridge? - Beliefnet Forums: "I was born and bred atheist. I had many friends who were religious and had no problems talking to them about their religion and what they were getting from it. It never occurred to me that they were wrong in their beliefs, but none of them came close to working for me. I never cared about the existence of God. If God worked for a friend of mine, no problem, God bless herm. Even fundamentalist Christians. If they tried to convert me, I simply said I was not ready yet and asked what their faith did for them. They put my name on the next convert board in their mind which was no skin off my nose, and happily told me all the wonderful things about their faith. I had to suppress my gag reflex occasionally as impolite, but I am used to that.

I have learned much about living from my conversations with theists, and my study of the Mass in order to sing it properly, but the God belief never made any sense to me. God just is irrelevant to my life.

There seem to be good reasons for the fact that God is useful to a large segment of the US population. Whether these reasons will be sufficient in a society where information is a free good is an open question, and I suspect not. However, religions will become irrelevant due to their own inadequacies, not because of anything I or the atheist ranters can say about them. To quote Ian Flemming "Live and Let Die."

I have better things to do than to help them die. "

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Indoctrinating our children.

Scripture-quoting tots - Beliefnet Forums: "We all brainwash and indoctrinate our children. It is how we prepare them to live in the society we have chosen to bring them up in. It is necessary and proper that we do so. The alternative is usually a dysfunctional adult.

Fortunately, humans have evolved a powerful trait that causes a pubescent human to at least question if not reject out of hand all of the indoctrination of herm parents. This levens the society, (from baking, creating holes in the structure) to make it more interesting."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jesuism

Jesuism - Beliefnet Forums: "I suspect most atheists have not bothered to separate the teachings of Jesus the man, from the crap grafted on by John and Paul to create Christ Jesus the savior.

Thomas Jefferson has done this for us in The Jefferson Bible. He littered the floor of the President's office with trash from the bible created by Paul and others, until he had distilled the essence of Jesus from the rest of the bible. I claim Jefferson as the first Jesuist, he certainly was an atheist, (politically a Deist) and wanted to salvage something from Christianity, again for political reasons, to keep the Black Regiment of New England preachers quiet(er.) Whether he succeeded politically or not, The Jefferson Bible is a concise and readable way to discover the ministry of Jesus."

Note: This and related posts have been consolidated on Thinking on the Blue Roads

Footnote the (2011) Wiki article of the same name was simply a ripoff of the name to simplify Jesusism which is what his article is about. But what do you expect from Wiki.

Theistic Jesuism

Jesuism - Beliefnet Forums: "Jesuism is really designed for Christians who, having lost faith in Paul's Christ have moved back to the Gospels for meaning and morality. Once they get comfortable without a savior many of them find they don't need God either. Particularly the God of the OT and Paul who was more worried about idol worship than people treating each other right. They can salvage most of their 'Jesus loves me' conditioning with Jesus as exemplar rather than God, and even worship in their same church.

You will hear them talking about Jesus ministering to the poor, the prostitutes, the gays, the fishermen, and other common people. You will also hear them focusing their religion down to the Second Great Commandment
Quote:
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself
with the gloss of Matt 25:40
Quote:
As ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

It is the teaching of radical respect for all people which separates Jesus from all of the religious teachers of his time, including Paul by the way. Until Jesus, religion was all about us vs them, 'We are the world's sweet chosen few, the rest of you be damned.' After Jesus it was more of the same. Fortunately Paul hijacked his charisma and caused the preservation of the synoptics to document it, incidentally preserving the message of radical respect to be rediscovered by those who can relate to it.

Some might call them Synoptic Christians since for them the NT stops before John. But they believe Jesus is the Son of God by the Holy Spirit, who was sent to earth to teach the humanist message of Love your neighbors, all of them, even the Samaritans, respect the poor, the meek, the thieves, the whores and even the people who hate you. In short how to live this life. Many of them take the next step and don't worry about an afterlife believing that how they live this life is all that matters to God.

I might agree that there is little of Christ in their beliefs but they call themselves Christians for traditional reasons, as many of them are found in traditional Christian Churches. Some call themselves Progressive Christians, and if I were an arrogant asshole telling people what they believe I would call them theist Jesuists. I am not, so I call them Christians.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Raising Atheists.

To atheists who had Christian parents - Beliefnet Forums: "One of the things my parents did to make it impossible to accept Christianity was to encourage me to read the bible. All of it. From Gen 1:1 to Rev 22:21.

I came home with some stories from Bible School, (a summer camp they thought would amuse me) and they asked where did that come from?
The Bible, said I.
But where in the Bible? they asked.
I dunno.
Find out."

Jesuism

Jesuism - Beliefnet Forums: "Jesuism in the West is an atheistic worldview based on the teachings of Jesus as documented in the Gospels including the recently discovered Gnostic Gospels of Thomas and Judas. A Jesuist rejects the supernatural accretions to the stories about Jesus as mnemonic and marketing devices typical of the age, and rejects all theistic references including self-references by Jesus as metaphorical devices to communicate with the prevailing Jewish and Pagan religions.

To understand Jesuism one must understand the concept of radical respect for all people taught by Jesus in the Beatitudes, the Good Samaritan, the Adulteress, and indeed in all the stories involving Jesus directly. While Jesus believed in the eventual judgment by his God to help formulate and sell the radical concept that all people are to be accepted as brothers and sisters, the Jesuist will accept this as part of the religious culture Jesus dedicated his life to changing. Jesus was a Jew who believed in the Abrahamic God concept, but his rebellion was as much against his own God as the religion of the Jews he was immersed in.

The Jefferson Bible is a useful condensation of the traditional teachings of Jesus and could be considered the Holy Book of the Jesuist. And part of the traditional Unitarian “Affirmation”

Unitarians believe in
…the brotherhood of man
The leadership of Jesus...

The Sound of Rain

Defend Yourself - Page 2 - Beliefnet Forums: "The sound of rain needs no translation. - Roshi Morimoto"

Chiyo is an ex-Christian Buddhist

Monday, July 21, 2008

Changing Christianity

what do you think about being homosexual and being a christian? - Beliefnet Forums: "I think the movement we see here among some Catholic Parishes and in other Christian denominations toward the Gospels and the Two Great Commandments is a necessary and sufficient condition for the revitalization of Christianity as path to God for many people. I think Christianity has moved farther than you think in this direction, but if you think about it it is almost by definition a quiet movement. Loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek doesn't generate a lot of controversy, but does make a huge difference in the feeling of the community and the acceptance of the presence of God."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Legacy continued

How do you think about death? - Beliefnet Forums: "I learned long ago that you cannot pray your way to immortality, and you can't wish it either. Either I have done my job right and the proud thoughts will be carried on by those who follow, and my species will be a little better off for my being here and posting on the net, and guiding my children and grandchildren and my family. They are already going beyond my ability to contribute and this is as it should be. I don't give up, I may yet have something to contribute, but I am a realist, in some areas I don't even try. An idea comes up I can't wrap my mind around and I 'discuss it with my pillow.' and choose the oblivion of sleep. As more and more things come up I can't wrap my mind around, I will follow the family tradition of choosing not to live any longer. Quite confident that as I have incorporated all of their proud thoughts into my space, those that follow will do the same. Not only for me but for those whose proud thoughts came before mine and enabled them."

Bible based religions dying out?

What if you are wrong? - Beliefnet Forums: "The God as depicted in the Bible has a few useful attributes, dealing with tribal loyalties, but taken as a whole the God depicted in the Bible is totally dysfunctional for any modern society as is being played out in many countries. The God of the Bible is causing several sects and one major religion to suicide as a society. It won't be quick or pretty but the writing is on the wall."