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
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."