Sunday, June 29, 2008

Paul's Contribution to Christian theology

Dust - Beliefnet Forums: "The good news is that in order to support Paul the council had to preserve the Gospels to give Paul the charisma of Jesus to build his Christ on. The bad news is that Paul's proscriptive top down theology appealed to the Christian priesthood, and not incidentally to Constantine, who needed a unifying religion that he could control through the same priesthood to keep order in the populace. The preservation of the Gospels is about the only good thing Christianity did theologically for over a thousand years. Opinions may vary on their political contributions."

Evolution and the God Gene

The Atheist Test - Beliefnet Forums: "The elimination of the God Gene is clear evidence of modern evolution. Prior to the 18th century it was almost impossible to survive in western society without this adaptation to living in a church dominated culture. With the Enlightenment, those without the God gene who were able to think for themselves about important social and political issues prospered and in many areas of Europe and the US have become dominant in the society."

On sin and hatred.

The Atheist Test - Beliefnet Forums: "We are all sinners. Everyone of us."
Speak for your self, Christian, the rest of us are basically good people. Acts of unkindness are generally inadvertent, and yes, we repent and try to learn from them to be even better people, more empathetic, and compassionate toward the people important to our society. Ideally that would be everybody, but some Christians and Muslims make it hard to even come close to that ideal. It is hard not to return hatred with antipathy, but I try to return hatred with its opposite, indifference. Your hatred, like your God, means nothing to me, I refuse to accept its relevance to my life."

On the Bible, the Liturgy and Paul

The Atheist Test - Beliefnet Forums: "Please understand that I can live without God for my entire life. I find the Bible to be a poor guide to anything, too much extraneous garbage getting in the way of the message. I much prefer the distillation of the meaning of the bible contained in the Mass and other Christian Liturgy. There are some useful messages there, but even in the liturgy there are inclusions from the teachings of Paul which I reject in their entirety. The most important that I reject is the concept of Christ as Savior. I find nothing in the teachings of Jesus suggesting that concept which was created out of whole cloth by Paul and grafted on the charisma of Jesus, who after all was too dead to complain."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thoughts on Dies Irae

Hell - Beliefnet Forums: "Some should fear the discordant Brass in the Berlioz Requiem. It is summoning them to infamy. The human choir tries to call them to harmony, but for many the brass wins. (It always does in the Berlioz, I guess there is something discordant in us all that needs to be dealt with.)"

Dies Irae- Judging the deceased.

Hell - Beliefnet Forums: "Although I am not a believer in an afterlife of the body or soul, I do find that a semblance of immortality is achieved in how we are remembered by those whose lives we touch. Perhaps this is why I like the Dies Irae in the mass. The trumpets sound and we think of our deceased acquaintances. Surely they are judged, as they have sown, 'He brought laughter and irony into my life' 'He was a stinking asshole. Shitting on everything that he disagreed with.'"

In Celebration: George Carlin 1937-2008 - Beliefnet Forums

In Celebration: George Carlin 1937-2008 - Beliefnet Forums: "By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth,” read a message on Mr. Carlin’s Web site,, and he spent much of his life in a fervent effort to counteract the forces that would have it so. In his always irreverent, often furious social commentary, in his observations of the absurdities of everyday life and language, and in groundbreaking routines like the profane “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” he took aim at what he thought of as the palliating and obfuscating agents of American life — politicians, advertisements, religion, the media and conventional thinking of all stripes."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

God is?

God Helmets OBEs Illusions and a Cosmic Presence. - Beliefnet Forums: "The sensation in the minds of religious believers that there is a strong presence of another entity in the space with them, not identifiable with any of the other people that may be present. The characteristics of the sensed entity are normally determined by the traditions of the local society, and may or may not contain supernatural attributes like extraordinary wisdom or power."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The responsibility of the living.

How to get through the tough times - Beliefnet Forums: "Yet we who must live have a responsibility to continue the legacy, yes, frequently blinded by tears, and crippled by the shared pain, we must do for the dying what they cannot do for themselves. Your father is crying because he cannot pop over and see his grandchildren, can you not do that for him?"

How I got here.

God Helmets OBEs Illusions and a Cosmic Presence. - Beliefnet Forums: "Until I was about 20 I was a hard scientist, chemist mainly but physicist as well. Did the science fairs, formal and informal, and learned all I could about becoming a chemist. About the middle of my sophomore year I discovered that I was a wise moron, wise about chemistry and a moron about everything else. I didn't like the self image. I had always been interested in 'living' issues, religion, sociology, and philosophy and spent three quarters getting a academic foundation in those subjects. I maintained my scientific worldview even in these areas, and participated in experiments in mass hysteria, and crowd manipulation."

I was a milk atheist.  And did not become interested in religious studies until my pre-teens. 
Then it was pure social curiosity and understanding the music I was singing.  It still does not bother me that others choose patronizing ignorance. Some seem to need it. 
Nonetheless as a moral human I must do what I can to resist the imposition of patronizing ignorance on those who do not choose to accept it, and to expose it for what it is to those who may wish to understand and/or escape its pernicious influence.   

Friday, June 20, 2008

Charles Fiterman

Needs a post of his own on this blog. His influence is pervasive. He has been a part of my valuable and useful space since I first encountered his small statues, and cavemen beating each other on the head and the body on the atheist boards at beliefnet. I return to his Appreciation/Celebration thread frequently to remind myself of my debt to him and to keep him an active participant in my space.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

God is neither natural nor imaginary.

God Helmets OBEs Illusions and a Cosmic Presence. - Beliefnet Forums: "The God that my believer friends pray to and depend on for meaning and purpose in their lives is neither explainable by the physical sciences we are familiar with today, nor imaginary. They are tapping into some reservoir of collective wisdom about living in their society."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On heros and Gods

Questions for Atheists 2 - Beliefnet Forums: "Humans tend to make their heroes larger than life. Why should Gods be exempt?"

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Friend's tribute to his late wife

An atheist friend of mine lost his wife of 33 years recently. The following tribute is his beautiful response:

When someone has sweetened your existence with a strong “sense of life,” transforming every dark and shaded place around you to warmth, even the grief one feels in the hours of separation appears out-of-place in the brightness of her after-glow. It is easy to see her mark upon the Earth, etched forever in the hearts and minds of those that she loved and those that couldn't help but love her, too.

When a life-thread so vibrant is unexpectedly snapped, this awful circumstance comes upon us like a dark cloud; for some time we feel we cannot find our way without her guidance. Look carefully and you will still see a trail lined with candles that she left for each of us, to help us find the path to joy, to take up those candles, to light them and to share them with another person trying to find their way through life.

Morality of Consumption

The Religion of the Market - Beliefnet Forums: "As one trained in Economics, it is not clear that consumption is particularly immoral. Whatever is consumed, is produced, and the producers derive economic benefit from the production. They in turn consume the production of others, who benefit right down to the peasants driven off their subsistence farms in China."

Emotional Resonance

God Helmets OBEs Illusions and a Cosmic Presence. - Beliefnet Forums: "There is credible evidence for me of some sort of emotional resonance between humans. Between lovers I don't think there is any question of the resonance although the transmission medium(s) can generate lovely arguments between skeptics arguing the normal 5 senses, and those arguing for some sort of ESP.

If that emotional resonance can be demonstrated in larger groups that have no (5) sensual connections, it is a small step to a large group including all people, or even all sentient entities which might be called a cosmic presence. As you know, I weigh in on the small group resonance scale with the village or parish being about the limit for strong resonance. Although I have experienced a general panic in a large city."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Teach your children well

Teach your children well - Beliefnet Forums: "An atheist does not live in a vacuum, and would have no more trouble than the priest, or God in noticing that certain behaviors facilitate living in the society of which hesh is a member. Hesh will adopt those that seem to work, and reject those like the inferiority of women that don't, and will create a moral structure which is relavent and useful for herm present society. This moral structure is much stronger and more useful as it is based on modern realities rather than a desert dwelling warlike tribe."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mozart's music.

A D Music Hall - Beliefnet Forums: "Mozart turned the formulistic music of his devout predecessors on its ear, and introduced passion into music. He demanded intense involvement both of his performers and his listeners. In the process he changed music forever. It became a true communication medium for exploring the emotional range of human experience."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Are atheists really this stupid?

God exist proved scientificly - Beliefnet Forums: "Quote:
"My point is that we, humanity, will not progress, will not mature, will not coalesce, will not care for all, until we move away from religions and other dividing god beliefs."
I am not sure that all of humanity is ready to move away from religions and god beliefs. Some may be (and of course we will lead the way into the golden future [/sarcasm]) but others may need other paths to follow."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Love-and-Death - Forrest Church Sermon on Mortality

Love-and-Death.pdf (application/pdf Object) somewhere they and we share at least one common ancestor who, with twenty-twenty hindsight, would do the same for us if she were here. In fact, she is here. Those who have come before us must now use our hands to touch, our eyes to see. We carry them in our hearts and bones, we and our blood brothers and sisters, survivors of the miracle, of the ongoing miracle, never ceasing to amaze, pouring itself into new vessels, recreating itself, over and over again.

What caused the first cause? -

What caused the first cause? - Beliefnet Forums: "The God that caused God. It is turtles all the way down."

To Bob on the death of his father.


In times like this my thoughts turn to two sources for the bittersweet comfort of being alive after the death of a loved one.

The first is Bob DeCormier's Legacy Which I hope you are familiar with. I will share a recording when you return if you wish.

The other is Forrest Church's stock sermon on Being Alive and Having to Die. made more poignant at this time with the final recurrence of his cancer.

My thoughts are with you and although Unitarians don't pray very well I am working on a prayer theory that might work even for us. I will try it out for you.

With love and hugs,

Love-and-Death.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Love-and-Death.pdf (application/pdf Object)After enjoying a year of fine health, this past Thursday I learned that my cancer had recurred, having spread to my lungs and liver. There is no way to sugarcoat this news. I shall undergo a regimen of chemotherapy, more for palliative than curative reasons, but must face the certainty that my cancer is terminal and the great likelihood that my future will be measured in months not years.

Plum Village - Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Plum Village - Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh: "Becoming a Buddha is not difficult because 'Buddha' means
someone who is enlightened, who is capable of loving and forgiving."

God Is Also a Flower

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes | "'God is Black.
But God is not only Black.
God is also White,
God is also a Flower.
So when a lesbian thinks of
her relationship with God,
if she practices deeply,
she can find out that
God is also Lesbian.
And God is Gay, too.
God is no less.
God is Lesbian,
and also Gay,
Black, White,
a Chrysanthemum.
And when you
discriminate against
Black or White
or Flower or Lesbian,
you discriminate
against God,
which is the basic
Goodness in you.'"

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes |

Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes | "Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever"

OBEs and the community consciousness.

God Helmets OBEs Illusions and a Cosmic Presence. - Beliefnet Forums: "the mind stays right where it is in the brain of the stressed individual, and it taps into the collective consciousness in an attempt to find a solution. The collective consciousness may be a shared resource made more available to the stressed person by the empathy of caregivers who may be actively seeking the community consciousness to direct assistance to the stressed individual. This is commonly known as prayer, but we don't want to upset the skeptics by a God word in our explanation."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Don't Stereotype Atheists - Beliefnet Forums

Don't Stereotype Atheists - Beliefnet Forums: "Until science can show how those worshipers feed off of each other using understood communication channels, that is sight, sound, as anything but tuning mechanisms science might as well say it doesn't understand God and the human spirit. Saying either does not exist is faith not science."


I like the "Middle of Nowhere in the middle of everything" The Sawyer Camp trail in San Mateo.

Pick a hotel in San Mateo, Half Moon Bay,SSF,even SFO will do, Woodside or wherever, and enjoy the short drive through the most beautiful country around. When you get to Sawyer Camp get out your bike, skates, walking shoes, running shoes, or even your strolling sandals. One can spend hours on each quarter mile of the 7 or so mile trail, watching the fog playing with the mountains, saying hello to the deer, and watching the most amazing assortment of humanity go by doing their own thing.

Response to "Hi" from internet friend.

Hi Shannon-

Thanks for asking, I have things working just as I hoped they would for this stage of my life, good job, good health, good singing in the SF Choral Society, family well and getting better, and all my friends at beliefnet to feed my need for stimulating conversation about important topics and to feed my blog. In the words of my health care provider, I am thriving!

I hope things are just as well for you and yours! Stay in touch.

Monday, June 9, 2008

God and dualism.

Don't Stereotype Atheists - Beliefnet Forums: "Until your modern scientific theory of consciousness can explain the presence of God in a group of worshipers, without an immaterial part to explain it, your modern scientific theory is simply scientific BS.

By the way, since there is no God in a Walmart, those spirits that try to connect with God for solace or guidance simply get lost and are doomed to haunt the Wallmart."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Collective consciousness defined.

Don't Stereotype Atheists - Beliefnet Forums: "I do find credible evidence for a 'collective consciousness' which is separate from the individual consciousness and accessible to individuals in times of emotional stress. It is nothing supernatural, just a multi-processor reservoir for the collected wisdom and lore of a tribe. The manifestation of this reservoir is called God by many tribes, and in these tribes rituals are created to reinforce the ability to access this collected wisdom called God."

Science, theology and OBEs

Don't Stereotype Atheists - Beliefnet Forums: "It may well be that at the current stage of scientific understanding of mental phenomena the theological explanation for OBEs may be as likely as the scientific."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

On Bible study.

what do you think about being homosexual and being a christian? - Beliefnet Forums: "Worshiping the Bible is dangerous because it causes one to read it."

John Galt economics.

Our Economic Systems - Beliefnet Forums: "Randism is the best example of a secular relgion out there with the exception of Scientology. I have disassociated my self completely from objectivism and Randism, and refer to John Galt economics/philosophy when discussing the issues raised in Rand's novels. That offends everybody!"

Teach your children well

Teach your children well - Beliefnet Forums: "atheist children have to deal with fairly advanced moral concepts at an early age. Typical scenario,
Parent 'Don't take Billy's Toy'
Kid: 'Why'
Theist Parent 'God Says So'
Atheist Parent: 'Billy would cry if you took it.'
AK: 'So What?'
AP: 'If some other kid took your toy how would you feel?'
AK : 'I would cry''
AP: 'Just like Billy?'
AK: 'I guess Billy is just like me'
AP: Hugs kid, and finds a nice toy for herm.
AK: 'Thanks, loving atheist parent for teaching me the important moral lesson of empathy and the consideration of the moral rights of other kids to enjoy their toys and not to covet the other kid's toys.
AP: 'Oy Vey, this kid is gonna be a real challenge. I pity herm teachers when hesh gets to school."

Friday, June 6, 2008

Mist Trail and Ahwahnee at Yosemite Slideshow

I finally got the round tuit to add the top of Nevada Falls and another night at the Ahwahnee to my life to do list. Around 200 pictures in the 2 days distills down to about 30 worth sharing. The log that won't jump Nevada Falls is worth the trip.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Physical manifestations of faith

Is God a chordal resonance? - Beliefnet Forums: "This resonance is reinforced strongly each time the community joins to worship. As each comes to herm pew others will notice and as hesh genuflects the others notice, feel the resonance and reinforce the presence of God in the church."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is God a chordal resonance?

Is God a chordal resonance? - Beliefnet Forums: "As humans tend to individualize groups. John's team, Mary's hospital, God's church, a group emotional resonance would be felt as an individual presence. If a tribe naturally developed an emotional resonance to mediate group morality and emotional support, the individual presence representing this group might well be co opted by a shaman as God. And then the rationalization would begin. Humans, being rationalizing animals would layer all sorts of supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid traits on this individual presence and lo, and behold, God."

A skeptic's illusions of the gaps theory.

Don't Stereotype Atheists - Beliefnet Forums: "You are explaining OBE's, the God helmet presence, and NDE's as illusions, that is that the mind is fooled. All well and good, except that you have not explained the reality that is causing the mind to be fooled. Until you do that calling something an illusion is the same smoke and mirrors the magician uses to cause the scantily clad maiden to levitate."

Teach your children well

Teach your children well - Beliefnet Forums: "Responsible parenting is teaching your children your dreams, your fears, and yes, your Gods, and perhaps if you are really wise where your Gods have failed you."

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Perfection in human terms

Atheism vs Religion - Another Perspective - Beliefnet Forums: "Perfection in human terms is rising above the common existence of people in one's society to teach better ways of relating with each other. It is usually a dangerous quest, as society generally is reluctant to change, especially if there is a God or gods involved. Gods of course deny any perfection associated with humans, as that would make humans better than Gods which are manifestly imperfect by any measure."

Abbado's Mozart c Mass

102.1 KDFC - Casual. Comfortable. Classical. - THE SACRED CONCERT: "MOZART: Mass in C minor, K. 427
Bonney, sop; Auger, sop
Blockwitz, ten; Holl, bass
Berlin Radio Choir; Berlin Philhamronic; Abbado, cond
Sony 46671"