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.


Selecting the Bail Outs

Can we just ignore the fire on Wall St.?

I am having a Katrina moment

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

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


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:
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?