Saturday, January 31, 2009

Atheism And Organ Donation

Atheism And Organ Donation - Beliefnet Forums:

"I am a blood donor, and at every opportunity I tell the story of a bicyclist hit by a motorcyclist with spikes on his leathers. My first action on arriving at the hospital was show my donor card and tell the doctors that they could use as many of my 200+ pints as needed to help. I am also a registered marrow donor. I haven't needed to endure the donation process yet, but a good friend, as well as a celebrity who also is a friend, are alive and well because of marrow donations. I take great pleasure in the fact that I was on stage with Mary Travers albeit hidden in the chorus, at a recent concert 3.5 years after her marrow transplant.

You are not the first I have told these stories to. Please think about these people and schedule a blood donation today! While you are there ask about marrow donation."

J'C: In response to an exhortation to register as an organ donor. I think the OP would be better off taking his campaign to the religious boards, hesh is preaching to the choir on the atheism boards, but at least hesh is preaching.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Religion and atheism

Atheism vs Anti-religious :

"But for my friends that basically keep their religion inside their church, I have no interest at all in dissuading them from their beliefs no matter how ridiculous the beliefs seem to me. Their beliefs obviously help them in some way to be the good people that I find them to be. And by the way none of them are 'lower orders.' There is no such thing in my thinking. Many of them discuss atheism and their religion with me because they know I respect their beliefs and have no intention of belittling them or suggesting that their religion is irrational. A very good friend of mine told me that (the Catholic) God even listens to the prayers of atheists, so if he asks me to pray for him I do. It actually saves me the time of figuring out a nice way of telling him what he needs to know."

I really don't understand the fundie atheists and the anti-God atheists like The Fearsome Four who are anti-God and anti-religion. They pick the worst examples of religious idiocy and try to tar all religion with it. Perhaps awareness raising is a benefit that balances the ossification of belief that the dispute causes. But maybe ossifying a monolith is not changing anything.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

So that all children can fly : watching the evidence change: "In the hours and days after November 4, a saying made its way across the Internet that speaks cogently to the stream of history in which we now stand:
Rosa sat so that Martin could walk. Martin walked so that Obama could run. Obama ran so that our children can fly.”

J'C: Some of the world has matured to where those identifiers of "other" are obsolete:

We are not quite to the Cosmopolitan World yet where the only thing that counts is "What you can do for your Country" or "planet" these days. But that day is approaching. Those parts of the world where these identifiers are still operable will find it increasingly hard to compete in the Cosmopolitan World. The reaction will unfortunately be violent, and it will be interesting to see how we the cosmopolitans will handle the violence. We obviously have the hoof and mouth solution, tried already in Iraq. I wonder if there is any other. It may be that quarantine will work as those dysfunctional societies destroy themselves, and they will. It will be hard to stand by and watch, but is there any other choice? Is the nuclear hoof and mouth solution kinder? The "neutron" bomb to reduce fallout?
Is there an answer? The question is getting unavoidable.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jennifer Lin improvs piano magic | Video on

Jennifer Lin improvs piano magic | Video on

An incredible pianist improvises on 5 random notes.

Work in progress I am still trying to learn how to embed the video.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Doonesbury on ringtones.

Gary Trudeau has been doing a bit on Jimmy Thudpucker riding the wave of pop ringtones. Today's is That Was The Year that was in four panels.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address - Yahoo! News

Text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address - Yahoo! News:
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
"Emphasis added.

J'C: Unbelievable! --and non-believers!!! Atheists, pagans, pantheists, Buddhists, All those people who can think for themselves without some little tinhorn in a fancy dress in an overdecorated balcony telling them what they are supposed to think. Perhaps some of them can think of ways to make stem cells do what God cannot do, that is cure amputees. Others might be able to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels, without worrying about whose oil fields don't pay anymore and whose coal plants no longer pollute the air we breathe. Can we make solar power cheap enough to power a hydrogen economy? We have the cars already, all we need is H2 fueling stations, and H2 cheap enough to compete with Gas. Lest the intelligent Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus get on my case, there are probably a majority of you who will participate as well now that your Wingnuts are under control, and their "Faith Based Government" is not driving everything including intelligent thought underground.

My few bucks to the campaign has just paid itself back a thousandfold. He has the mandate, and I suspect he will find the courage to make the politically difficult moves to make it all happen. For the first time in 8 years, I will say I am once again proud to be an American.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pascal’s Wager - fler

Beliefnet Discussions - "fler0002
1/15/2004 11:15 PM

And we also discover that only those who believed in God and gave their lives to Him will enter into heaven and those who didn't will go to the torment of hell... what then??

What is it that you find to love in a deity that threatens you with eternal torment if you make one wrong decision?

Does a perfect deity sound like one who feels that it is just to torment you forever because of a choice you made based on the limited knowledge, and some erroneous knowledge, that you had when you made the choice?

Or does it sound like a shell game designed to play upon your fears in order to persuade you to believe?

Does it sound like a policy that benefits the church more than it benefits the believer?

Does it sound like a plan to intimidate the uncertain by depicting their 'loving' deity as one that is bigger, stronger, and incomparably more vicious?

Does it sound like a plan that not only creates fears of what happens after death, but also creates in humanity fears of each other? Fears of any tolerance for anything other than what is sanctified by the church. Fears that turn into hatreds. Fears that turn into witch hunts. Fears that turn into jihads, crusades, and terrorism. Fears that turn into sexual abuse.

You are welcome to indulge yourself in all those fears. I for one have chosen to use reason to dispell them. I don't have to live with those fears, and consider Pascal to be a coward."

J'C: This dismissal of Pascal is by far the best I have seen. Note the date. I have been meaning to post it for a while.

Pascal’s Wager

Wandering in the Wilderness » A Great Alternative to Pascal’s Wager : "Pascal got it wrong because if you live your life based on the idea that the Sky Gnome exists then you miss out on actually living your life. If you believe because you fear retribution when your end comes you will find yourself regretting all the things that you did not do because you lived your life in the expectation that there was a judgement and that the judgement would be based on a contradictory 2000 year old cobbled together manuscript of unknown pedigree. For those that truly believe then they reach the end of a life that was not fully lived because of the expectation that there was ’something grander’ awaiting them as a reward for not having lived their lives to the fullest.

I propose that we all start praying for the Rapture - it will decrease the number of self righteous bigoted nutjobs on the planet and since we already know what the Anti-Christ is up to we exercise our free will and give him a talk show and a product line on HSN and then go on with our lives freed from the shackles of religion.

J'C: The second best reason to ignore Pascal's Wager. See next post for fler's famous comment. I will pray for the Rapture, as my friend says God listens to Atheists, maybe it will work.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pharyngula: Chemical replicators

Pharyngula: Chemical replicators: "We're one step closer to self-sustaining chemical replicators, similar to what would have existed a few billion years ago, before true cells evolved. Lincoln and Joyce have created a couple of relatively simple molecules that assemble themselves from even simpler precursors in a test"

J'C: A really cool experiment that shows how early RNA type chemical replicators may have come about. I loved their comment on why not now?
The world around us is swarming with the ravenous, finely-honed products of billions of years of evolution, creatures like bacteria, that would readily swoop down on any accumulation of nucleotides and consume them before these kinds of reactions could even start.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

OK, God exists. Now what?

OK, God exists. Now what? - Beliefnet Forums:
Drange emphasizes that any stance on 'Does God exist?' is made with respect to a particular concept of what one claims to consider 'God' to represent

The problem with this stance is that it focuses on the external characteristics of God rather than God.

If you talk about a home you talk about where a family of any size lives, the base from which they go out to do their thing in the rest of the world. What it is made of, how big it is, how many bathrooms, if any, it has are all useful in making inferences about those calling the place home, but are independent of the concept of whether homes exist....

If God is the referent for worship and reverence of a group of people of any size, questions of supernatural vs, natural, creator vs. created, real existence vs. imaginary existence, all become irrelevant. One can focus on important questions. Is God functional for believers? Is God functional for non-believers? Is God functional for the society in which it exists? Is God functional for the cosmopolitan world in which some of us live?

These are not trivial questions. One must examine the God,or the inference of God by studying the beliefs of the group to see if the particular God is acceptable....

J'C: This is where I think Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, et all are strategically in error. Only Dawkins even alludes to the functionality of God beliefs, and then uses only horrible examples of dysfunctionality to make his point. A believer in God is not going to be convinced God does not exist because the mythical accretions that have adhered over the ages are ridiculous. They already know that, but the accretions are helpful in defining the group and maintaining group unity. A believer may know that God is not a supernatural omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent alpha humanoid, these things cannot exist in a single entity. But believing anyway creates the sense of awe and reverence necessary for ceding some measure of control over ones life to God.

For some "Letting go and let God." is a necessary part of living a relatively meaningless life as an assembly line robot, barfly and couch potato. God works for them, they at least show up for work each day, and once a week God may send them to Habitat for Humanity or a soup kitchen to pay their social dues to their community.

Even a person who is none of the above may find God belief useful in eliminating questions of meaning and purpose from one's life and freeing them to pursue their muse, whatever that may be. Many of my friends never think about being alive and having to die. God takes care of all of that. They can build their Ponzi scheme, write their symphony, or build the computing cloud without a thought of why. In many ways this might be comforting. It would drive me nuts.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Atheists in Church.

Agnostics - Beliefnet Forums:

"I have attended churches (other than UU) all my life as an atheist. Usually with a friend who was a member of the Faith and knew of my atheism. I never pretended belief, and treated hymns and prayers as myths. Maybe as something to analyze for value, but myth nevertheless.

A Catholic friend of mine told me once that God even listens to the prayers of atheists, so when he asks me to pray for him I do so. I don't expect much, but he does, and maybe it will work for him. My cost? zero. His benefit? At the very least a warm feeling of concern by his friend. I am still looking for the downside.

I think if you scratch the surface beliefs of some of the members of many Christian congregations you would find that some will be quite atheistic. They are attending for the goals of promoting social and economic justice and genuine peace, and probably for social networking as well.

I got over the hypocrisy of pretending God belief a long time ago, in fact I would go so far as suspending disbelief in appropriate situations. What did I have to lose? Atheism? It never happened, but if it did, so what. Lots of people seem to live happily as theists."

Is atheism a BS?

Ignosticism - Beliefnet Forums:
I say there are no gods, but not all Atheists have the guts to come right out and say it.

Not the guts but the end product of the gut the BS.

And yes, the assertion that there are no gods is a Belief System, based on the rejection of all evidence to the contrary that does not meet the standards of the BS of materialism and antisupernaturalism. There is plenty of evidence of God belief, but the materialist BS asserts that God belief does not indicate the existence of the referent God because the God would be immaterial.

Extending the concept of atheism to aBSism I am an aBSist with respect to this BS as well as religious BS."

J'C: One of the major reasons I don't make a common cause with most of the noisy atheists out there, although I call myself an atheist, is that they battle all Gods instead of choosing the dysfunctional Abrahamic God particularly when unleavened with the Synoptic Gospel myths of Jesus. I have no problem admitting the existence of any God providing the God has a currently active set of believers to maintain the immaterial entity they call God. But the unleavened Abrahamic God has the petulance of a small child, the misogyny of most gods, and morals of a street bully. A thoroughly unpleasant entity, who should not be denied but opposed.

I don't worship any God, and no God has any influence on my life except what I choose to learn from believers, hence, atheism. But claiming God does not exist is an extremely misguided strategy.

How Science Works.

Do White Blood Cells Make Cancer Deadly?: Scientific American: "The issue contained a letter from three Czech doctors asking whether the fusion of tumor cells and white blood cells could cause cancers to spread, or metastasize. At the time, Pawelek was also reading a book by evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis, who pioneered the idea that life on earth was revolutionized by ancient cells engulfing one another and fusing together, forming hybrids that had better chances at survival. “I was really excited by the connection,” he recalls. “Since there was a precedent for hybridization in evolution, why not in cancer?”"

J'C: The article goes on to describe Pawelek's 15 year investigation of this hypothesis and starting with mice and finally moving on to human studies. It looks like he is on the verge of some important information on the mechanism of metastasis.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Daring Rescue of Humpback Off Farallones, SF Chronicle, 12/14/05 | Coral Reef Alliance

Daring Rescue of Humpback Off Farallones, SF Chronicle, 12/14/05 | Coral Reef Alliance: "Daring Rescue of Humpback Off Farallones, SF Chronicle, 12/14/05
By Peter Fimrite
A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter.

'It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it,' James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. 'It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun.'

Sunday's daring rescue was the first successful attempt on the West Coast to free an entangled humpback, said Shelbi Stoudt, stranding manager for the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County.

The 45- to 50-foot female humpback, estimated to weigh 50 tons, was on the humpbacks' usual migratory route between the Northern California coast and Baja California when it became entangled in the nylon ropes that link crab pots."

J'C: And they say that whales are not sapient. She sure knew what those odd fish in the plastic flippers were doing for her. And she knew who freed her from her fatal trap.

Dolphins rescue humans caught in rip-tides, it is high time we returned the favor for those intelligent marine cousins.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The history of religion- Readers Digest version

The Bright Line... - Beliefnet Forums:

BUT the question is far deeper, that is how was it that from Gods first creatures, re...Adam and Eve came the non knowledge of God, that has come to become clinically known as Atheism?

As I remember the myth, Adam and Eve came to the non knowledge of God by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were thereby made independent of God and Herm 612 petty and picayune rules and could hold their heads high in their humanity and live according to the best interests of themselves, their family and their society based on that knowledge of good and evil from the fruit. Like most humans they screwed up occasionally, but they must have learned from their mistakes and were better people thereafter.

Apparently God got so disgusted with them that he adopted another tribe and made them toe the line of the 612 petty and picayune rules. Since no one could comply with them all it set the stage for Paul and his Christ to save everybody and since everybody broke one of the 612 rules he could make them all believe that they were sinners in need of salvation.

I guess the atheists just made a detour around the Israelis and therefore the Christians and just built on the knowledge of good and evil that Adam and Eve gave to their descendants. "

J'C: From an otherwise forgettable thread comes a weird comment that stimulated a smart-ass reply which then grew into an interesting myth. Hey if J can write fun myths why can't I. Now if only I can figure out how to lobby the canonizers...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Celebration: Charlie, Dad, Athlete, and so much else.

In celebration of the anniversary of his birth
January 5,1901

My Father's Shirt

I put on your blue flannel shirt,
The old one you loved, the color of sky,
Thin in the elbows and frayed at the neck,
That I saved from the throwaway pile
After you died and we went through your things.

I put on your soft flannel shirt,
The one that matched your blue eyes,
The gentle eyes that looked upon me
Full and tender with deep quiet love
That protected and taught me to trust.

I put on your warm flannel shirt
The one that matched your clear eyes
That stared up bright empty
When they wheeled in your cart
And I saw you for one final time.

I put on your blue flannel shirt
And feel the frayed softness surround me,
I see the blue eyes that through life and beyond
Shine with acceptance and warm tender care,

Loving me, holding me, keeping the vigil,
Embracing my spirit, and keeping me warm.

Bonnie Black

C'J: And the wonder is
I have the other one.

Spirituality vs. God

Society Without God :

"Spirituality is not belief in God. Spirituality is not belief in gods. Spirituality is not belief in the supernatural. Buddhism is a god free and largely supernatural free spiritual culture.

Spirituality is the wonder and joy of being alive and trying to make sense out of the world we live in. It is true that promoters of God or gods can hijack this wonder and joy and attribute it to God or gods, and create the impression that spirituality is identical with a supernatural God. But those of us who celebrate our spirituality without God, who can find joy and wonder in an electron micrograph or a fractal algorithm or an APOD image or thousands of everyday wonders presented to those alive enough to notice, need no supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid for spiritual experiences. The natural world is more than adequate."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Are We Gods?

Are We Gods? :

"Yeah, and I must be a god because when I pray I know that I'm talking to myself."

The quote of the week from beliefnet. Thanks "Namchuck"

Anselm's Ontological Argument

Anselm's Ontological Argument :

"My problem with Anselm's argument is that it starts with a belief.
... we believe that thou art a being than which nothing greater can be conceived.
If the fool is a believer, then Anselm works. Within the belief space God must exist. Where I am different from the fool is that I don't believe.

I don't believe in God.

I don't believe in great beings that have not earned that designation by the accolades of contemporary or near contemporary historians and story tellers and who clearly existed as a real, living, human being. I don't even believe all the stories about great beings. It is not unusual for admirers of great beings to pad the resume, so to speak. These unbelievable stories do not impugn the credibility of the existence of the great being in fact they add to it. If starry eyed groupies didn't lie about their hero maybe hesh wasn't so great after all.

I don't believe in anything 'than which nothing greater can be conceived.' A random Hubble deep field image shows things greater than anything that can be conceived."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jesus vs. Christians

Is Life Pointless? : "Please note that Jesus was a man. He was made a God by John and Paul whose Jesus Christ kept nothing of the message of kindness, love, charity and forgiveness. I think you are right that rational Americans prefer Jesus, too bad that none of them are Christian."

Mistbows and wonder

Is there really such a thing...? - Beliefnet Forums: "But even with these loose definitions of God I am an atheist. I get my spiritual, moral, and meaning reinforcement from my society and the world I enjoy living in. If I spend a day hiking the mist trail to Nevada Falls enjoying the play of the sun in the mist, I am not thanking a creator for the experience I am celebrating the fact that I can still do that. Understanding the physics of the mistbows

in no way diminishes the wonder and enjoyment of the experience."