Friday, December 31, 2010

Atheist Spitituality

The Arena Culture - NYTimes.com David Brooks Op-Ed:

Hubert Dreyfus of Berkeley and Sean Dorrance Kelly of Harvard have just done this with their new book, “All Things Shining.” Jan 4, 2011 release

"Dreyfus and Kelly say that we should have the courage not to look for some unitary, totalistic explanation for the universe. Instead, we should live perceptively at the surface, receptive to the moments of transcendent whooshes that we can feel in, say, a concert crowd, or while engaging in a meaningful activity, like making a perfect cup of coffee with a well-crafted pot and cup.

A good description of atheist spirituality that is actively opposed by the faithful who try to co-opt those experiences for God. Just as they try to co-opt all things human good or bad for God.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Experiencing God.

Antitheism? - Beliefnet

I am close enough friends with several Catholics (RCC) to have been invited to participate in services with suspended disbelief, and have discussed the experience with several. In all cases as they genuflect upon entering Church they report a connection with God that is shared by their fellow parishioners. In just one instance, on genuflecting, I felt a 'presence' as described in the God Helmet experiments, but I did not have the historical background with the parish to identify it as anything but something other than self.

This pattern was consistent in several different Churches, with several different orders ranging from milk Catholics who never thought much about God or beliefs, to a Jesuit service with a Jesuit friend who knew God and his belief system intimately and intellectually.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Observer Bias

Perspectivism - Beliefnet

Observer bias is not neutralized, simply accounted for by the interpreter. Nietzsche was biased against a God based view of life, and it was easy to read his conclusions with that in mind. Some here are bigoted against atheists and all things atheistic and again it is easy to compensate for that bigotry. Some here have a religious, God based bias, and again it is easy and reasonable, with a little knowledge about their beliefs to account for and compensate for that bias. In most reasonable situations this is done almost intuitively by observers, and frequently by participants in a discussion, but some are incapable of getting past their own bias to reasonably account for the bias of others.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ring Speciation

The "Dawkins" Petition - Beliefnet

Since Homo Sapiens moved out of the caves they realized that educating and socializing children was the responsibility of the parent, usually the mother. Whatever help she could avail herself of was an evolutionary necessity. Generally this meant learning the customs, mores, and, yes, the religion of the tribe. Those tribes that did not do this well were eliminated from the gene pool.

This is called evolution. It is not pretty, kind, or painless. It is continuing today. Parents will teach their children the customs, mores, and religion of their tribe, and if these teachings are incompatible with an educated, cosmopolitan larger society, there is nothing that educated, cosmopolitan society can do, except perhaps 'Cry, my beloved country' most of you are not going to make it. There are only so many jobs in the Creation Museums, even if a few Governors are convinced that such museums are worthy 'stimulus projects'

There is a clear ring speciation going on in the Human Species today. It is based on intelligent rational thinking as found in the major academic universities. The other end of the ring is the faith based traditional thinking as found in religious academies and the Texas School Board. The mating rituals are different enough that speciation, that is lack of interbreeding will become more and more common until the two ends of the ring will be incompatible. As in all ring speciation the intermediates will breed in both directions, and there will be movement within the ring.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

On Land and Soul Grabs

The "Imperial Brits" are dead - Beliefnet

No one argues that the land grab was not basically secular. Even though a cogent argument can be made that Manifest Destiny had Puritan and other religious roots. All Americans should and most do hang their heads in shame in the face of the historical facts epitomized in the quote attributed to Red Cloud:

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept only one; they promised to take our land, and they did.”

But the soul grab once the natives were concentrated on the reservations was organized Christian evangelism to destroy the native culture, religion and even language. All Christians should hang their heads in shame in the face of the historical actions of their priests and evangelists. Few do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Voyager.

Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American: "Voyager 1 Arrives at the Cusp of Interstellar Space

NASA--Thirty-three years into its voyage, the solar wind speed around Voyager 1 has dropped to zero as the space-hardened craft nears a milestone in its journey out of the solar system.

Ngram viewer

Science News, Articles and Information | Scientific American: "New Tool Tracks Culture from 1500s via Books

Google Books Ngram Viewer--How much has Einstein really been in the public consciousness? Has interest in evolution changed? Web users can find out with this 'culturomics' tool, which provides rapid analyses of 500 billion words from 5.2 million books.

And I though Facebook was a time sink. Please. Nobody even think about this as a Christmyth present.

Unusual Sexuality

BDSM? - Beliefnet

As long as the principle of dignity and respect is part of the game I would agree with Dot. No harm, no foul is as applicable in sexuality as any other area of life.

That said, if you feel uncomfortable with either role, you might find that your minister or a UU counselor might be able to help root out the religious roots of your fascination with the role playing, and as usual light drives out darkness. One of my major beefs with Abrahamic religions are the dysfunctional sexuality doctrines that linger long after everything else has been relegated to the mythbasket.

Critiquing religion

Critiquing religion - Christopher Hitchens - Beliefnet

The major problem with Hitchins is that like many polemicists it is too easy for the target fundies to wiggle free from the diatribe by simply nodding and saying yeah, all the rest of us are going to Hell, but if you listen to those of us who have the truth you can beat the rap. You don't have to do anything but accept Christ as Savior, and of course admit that you are no better than the rest of us sinners who are saved by Christ. In some sects you have to pretend to agree with that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the over decorated balcony or you might get thrown out. The best of all worlds. You are still saved, and you don't have to go to church. Of course they will tell you you are not saved, but since you have met Christ and/or God you know the TRUTH.™

I think this out is much more common than admitted by the fundies. And of course by the "Progressive Christians." So in effect is easy for almost any Christian to dismiss the polemic.

I find it much more interesting to attack the irresponsibility of nailing sin on the cross instead of taking responsibility for one's actions. In other words attack the concept of sin as bullshit and a cop out. When you make shit happen you have to clean it up. There isn't much wiggle room in that one. You can always throw the free will thing at them. Yeah you are a sinner, but God gave you the ability to triumph over that sin. (Gen 4:7 if you need the scripture) Why with Hell staring you in the face are you not doing so?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Governing without Religion

Religion and morality - Beliefnet

I haven't read Proud Tower, but from your description it is a polemical view of the reality of dealing with a situation where religion has destroyed the effectiveness of government functions. As they say, it is a dirty job but somebody has to do it.

A more benign view of the same type of solution to the dissolution of a functioning government can be found in Oath of Fealty the Niven-Pournelle description of a corporate archology which has taken over all government functions in the heart of a basically dysfunctional Los Angeles. It is the book which described the difference between their locally functioning society with the surrounding world as "Think of it as evolution in action."

This is basically the genesis of my idea of the ring speciation of humans into believers Homo Religiosis, and rationalists, Homo Intelligentsia, or, to use a less political correct term the intellectual elitists. Looking at the corporate/university enclaves around the country: Silicon Valley; Tri-Cities, NC; Cambridge, MA; Manhattan; Boulder, CO; among many others, there are good local school systems, that feed the universities, and jobs for the graduates of those universities. The rationalists in the rest of the country are either going to have to move, if they have kids that need good K-12 schooling, or tap into the enclaves via the internet if childless, although they will probably move for social reasons.

The reason for the ring speciation hypothesis is that the mating rituals if nothing else will make interbreeding unlikely. In the U/C community mate selection criteria is almost purely on demonstrated intellectual ability. Marriage is late, and children planned usually for near the end of the female's academic tenure. The third year of med school is the breeding season for female med students. A non-breeder by choice complained about the social pressure to get pregnant at that time. (I wonder if that choice will survive in the face of an intellectual equal male determined to improve H. Intelligentsia.) In general I have observed that it is definitely a female choice of breeding partner in the U/C community, although not necessarily but frequently sex partner as well. But the male is going to have to employ powerful intellectual persuasion to get her to lose the contraceptive.

In the religious world male dominance and early marriage is the norm. Think traditional sport star-cheerleader paradigm here. If she isn't pregnant at graduation she failed high school.

It isn't a clean division geographically, but socially the believers are insular, and gravitate to the bad school districts for the lower property values. If the deterioration of the government infrastructure continues outside the U/C enclaves even social contact between the two groups will be limited.

It is interesting to speculate on the political religious right support. Can it be a conspiracy or informal collusion of the U/C elite to restrict the religious poor to the resources of their churches, including the psychological resource of salvation. Are the bankers and the entertainment industries consciously destroying the effectiveness of the popular government so the poor will have no choice but obesity deaths without proper medical care.

The rise of the apocalyptic churches is for me an indication of this trend. Obviously the U/C elite will definitely not be among the saved chosen.

The U/C enclaves have their own private HMO medical systems, good public schools and private internet access to the powerful resources of the community. They have back door entrances for those who can somehow transcend their religion facilitated intellectual disabilities. Open need blind enrollment in the University with its access to the powerful intranet.

The door to breaking the religious social control of learning is of course the internet. The wikis, and the few public access science resources like SciAm on line give those with the interest and ability the key to that back door, but they will have to resist the religious and popular entertainment pressures for couch-potatoism.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Bigotry

Christmas Wars - Beliefnet

I see Happy Holidays as anti-Jewish. Christmas is a celebration of an especially capable Jew. You know he was Jewish because [bigotry deleted] People really resent that billions of people take his ideas seriously. Jesus one way, is another articulation of one God.[Attribution deleted to protect the guilty]

Does Christian or at least one Christian's bigotry know no bounds? Trashing a whole religion to promote a parochial God. Just sick. Christians of all kinds should repudiate this post.

Note beleifnet Christian mods deleted this post. The thread is interesting though without it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Critiquing religion - Where are the Theists?

Critiquing religion - Christopher Hitchens - Beliefnet

You have identified the major issue here and one that keeps Hitchens in business. That is that those with the high ideals in religion refuse to take those to task for not only failing to live up to the high ideals but trashing them.

Why are those with high religious ideals not on the lecture circuit with Hitchens denouncing the failures? It seems that if God or Christ is mentioned any idea gets a free pass from religions high ideals or no. It simply is not enough to 'create change from within' that is fine and I applaud those who are taking on their own denominational leaders, but why are they not taking their campaign public? Even those like Spong who are taking their heresy public are simply pushing their high ideals such as they are, rather than taking on and denouncing those whose ideals don't reach the standard of despicably low?. Those throwing stones at Hitchens better put some plastic on their high ideals in their stained glass windows, and start throwing stones from the same platforms as Hitchens.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Government in the USA

The Federal Government, indeed government in general, has been irrelevant to the management of the USA since Reagan was elected. It is simply a bucket to keep the grifters, whorehounds, thieves and idiots in a bucket where we can keep an eye on them to make sure they don't do any real damage. Yeah, it is expensive, but the trickle down to the whores, limo drivers, TSA gropers, etc. keeps the local economies moving.

Now, if we only could get the religious right to succeed in seceding we might have a manageable country again. Dream on brothers!

Merry Christmas

Christmas Wars - Beliefnet

Thank you for the greeting.

I intend to have a Merry Christmas in my fashion which includes celebrating the joy of every human birth symbolized by the birth of the human Jesus. Sure, not every birth gets choruses of angels, but he didn't either, so the songs work for all. It takes very little effort to generalize almost all of the Christmas myths to all people. So I do. I can even generalize the virgin as all women who conceive in love.

You go right ahead and celebrate as you will. Put you nativity scenes on the church lawn, I may even stop by to appreciate them in my way. Coincidentally my classical station just played Andrea Bocelli doing a beautiful rendition of Cantique de Noel. It brought tears to my eyes.

I assume that you will spend the rest of the season (since advent has already begun) in prayer and joyful anticipation of the coming of Christ. (By the way why are you jeopardizing your salvation by this secular activity on DA. Please don't take this as criticism, I am all in favor.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Phenomenology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Phenomenology (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):

# Ontology is the study of beings or their being — what is.
# Epistemology is the study of knowledge — how we know.
# Logic is the study of valid reasoning — how to reason.
# Ethics is the study of right and wrong — how we should act.
# Phenomenology is the study of our experience — how we experience.

Fiction, Imagination and Reality.

Phenomenology - Beliefnet:

A child at about 6 or 7 begins to sort out the imaginary and fiction from the real quite naturally. Herm imaginary friend is identified as different from herm real friends. Santa and the tooth fairy are identified as myth (fiction) that may be fun to learn from and play with but are clearly not reality. This process is normally encouraged by care providers as normal progress in learning. It can be subverted by establishing some myths as reality, usually for social conditioning and safety. In a religious community the God myth is strongly promoted as reality, and obedience intentionality toward God as a real 'supercop' is encouraged.

The last chance a child has to reallocate myths to the fiction category is the post pubescent rebellion when the child 'leaves his parents' and 'cleaves' to a new society historically by exogamy, but a recent development (by evolutionary standards) is the leaving home for apprenticeship or scholarship. The myths of the parents are challenged and compared to the myths of the new society and assigned to the appropriate fiction/real categories.

Again this process can be subverted by religious prohibitions to leaving the 'presence of God' for any reason, and a strong endogamy bias.

Those that can, Teach

Those that can, teach, and change the world.


Those that can't teach do. They fool around with things and/or ideas. Useful to be sure, but seldom earth shaking.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

God is Love?

Quantum Theory - Beliefnet :

'God' Is 'LOVE'
teilhard

It would be useful if you could find any support for this statement in any of the common literature of the Abrahamic God. Or Christian God if you prefer. All available evidence shows He is a misogynist, misanthropist, who loves no one, not even his 'Chosen People.' He demands love, worship, and adoration on pain of death and Hell. And in return gives nothing. Not even respect.

Thank you, I will pass on the love of God.

The Science of Meaning.

The Rosetta Stone, information is material, meaning is not - Beliefnet:

I will admit that in the limited world of the study of consciousness there are no tools for studying emergent properties of the working of the brain. And by the way I am not arguing the mind is an immaterial thing, it is an overlay on the brain and depends on a working brain for its existence. But until your scholars of consciousness can provide a reasonable ontological link between brain action and self, other, and fiction, and reliably distinguish between them as a child of 7 or 8 does quite reliably and naturally, we are in the realm of metaphysics not science.

Perhaps self generated dualism is the best way to think about the relationship between the brain and the mind. It is true that the mind "app" can be reduced to material actions of neuron activity, just as any app can be reduced to the the material changes in the state of silicon switches. But the meaning of the app is not found in the relationship of silicon switches, it is found in the usefulness of the app to the mind "app" using it for whatever useful or useless thing the mind finds to do with the app.

The meaning of Facebook is not found in the material state of some server farm somewhere, it is found in the way real people can use it to stay connected to people who they may have no material connection with. I have never met in person several friends on Facebook, due to geographic limitations, but I would have no qualms about sharing an extended visit with any of them. Indeed, I have done so on a couple of occasions. (I will admit to be very selective in my friends list.)

Similarly the meaningful connection between you and me is not found in the state of the switches at the Silicon Valley and the Minneapolis ends of the fiber optic network, it is the way each of our minds works with the data represented by the states of those switches. Please note that the state of our brains is no more relevant than the state of those switches.

I don't think scientists can think about the issues of mind and meaning as scientists. They just don't have the scientific tools.

I can't prove, but suspect, that the brain processes the information about self, other in the real sense of a known other real person, and a fictional character like God made, after all, in the image of self in much the same way neurologically. All have faces, bodies, emotions, needs, likes, dislikes, etc, that I suspect are processed in the same brain spaces dedicated to tracking those things. But somehow a healthy rational mind can keep the differences sorted out correctly and is able to process information derived from each stored source in an appropriate manner. I am skeptical that the scientists will ever be able to distinguish the stored information about, for example God in a believer, from the stored information about self. Yet the mind does this quite reliably most of the time. Although some of the people posting here make one wonder about how reliable the mind is in this function.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Selfish Gene?

Original sin and the human genome - Origins of Life - Beliefnet Community:

"In some species the individual is the selection unit. For these organisms your assertion is correct. However for social animals the selection unit is the herd or pack or in the case of humans the parish or village. Until very recently banishment from the parish or village was a death sentence. I am not even talking evolutionary time here. Before gunpowder, a lone human was a dead human.

Even today shunning, disfellowshipping, and excommunication can be a cause for suicide in one form or another, drugs, drink, gun, or bridge. If one has been indoctrinated from birth that God loves only those who conform the the dogmas of the parish, being unable to comply for one reason or another is a serious psychological issue. Some are strong enough to find other groups to provide the necessary community, schools and colleges are a common way to deal with loss of faith in one's milk church, which is why so many religious groups try to control the school environment for their children.

If evolution is forbidden as a subject matter, the myth of original sin can be believably insisted upon with its requisite savior. It is no wonder that the religious areas of the country are so active in insuring that special creation is at least taught as an alternative to evolution."

Changing the World

"Is what you’re doing going to change the world?” asked Larry Page, Google’s co-founder. “If not, maybe you should do something else.”

From SciAm December 2010 P.10

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kinder, Küche, Kirche

Why religious patriarchy is so oppressive - Beliefnet:

"God is losing the Kinder, Küche, Kirche battle, and female believers as well. Although some women will chose (be indoctrinated into) this path, the best and the brightest will leave the religious gene pool.

Think of it as evolution in action."

Monday, November 29, 2010

On Wolves and Poodles.

'not all speciation was caused by mutations'- Beliefnet:

6. How did these 'losses' become fixed in a population? (Remember, you don't have Betty BigCat Breeder there deliberately breeding these cats for specific traits; this is a wild population like wolves. And in the thousands of years that wolves have been breeding, there hasn't been a single instance of them producing a Miniature Poodle.) What evidence can you produce to substantiate your opinion?
McAtheist
Thanks.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ontological Emergence

Emergent Properties (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy): "Whether there are any instances of ontological emergence is highly controversial. Some metaphysicians and philosophers of mind contend that there are strong first-person, introspective grounds for supposing that consciousness, intentionality, and/or human agency are ontologically emergent. The intrinsic qualitative and intentional properties of our experience, they suggest, appear to be of a fundamentally distinct character from the properties described by the physical and biological sciences.[12] And our experience of our own deliberate agency suggests a form of ‘direct’, macroscopic control over the general parameters of our behavior that cannot be reduced to the summation of individual causal interchanges of relevant portions of the cerebral and motor cortex.[13]"

Friday, November 26, 2010

U.S. divorce rates: for various faith groups, age groups and geographical areas

U.S. divorce rates: for various faith groups, age groups and geographical areas: "Barna report: Variation in divorce rates among Christian faith groups:
Denomination (in order of decreasing divorce rate)

% who have been divorced
Non-denominational ** 34%
Baptists 29%
Mainline Protestants 25%
Mormons 24%
Catholics 21%
Lutherans 21%"

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Religious Myth as Wisdom?

Joy and Wisdom? - Beliefnet:

"[Materialists and rationalists are] a small subset of atheists here, albeit a noisy one. I suspect that most atheists are quite comfortable with myth even religious myth as a valuable source of knowledge about people living together. The difference is that since none of it is TRUTH™ we can learn from that which is worth learning from, including incidentally what doesn't work, and integrate all into a coherent and joyful wisdom about living and incidentally dying. One of the things I learned from religious sources is that the proper bet on Pascal's wager is to bet nothing in this life."

The Value of Religion in a Scientific Age.

In a Scientific Age is Religion a Hereditary Delusion? - Beliefnet :

"The spiritual, actually religious component, of human history contains much of value in how to get along, or not, with your fellow humans. But where it becomes a delusion in a scientific age is when it becomes a Belief System, all of which must be adhered to and the God worshiped, feared and obeyed. I find it interesting that Progressive Christianity, in denying the God mediators in favor of the direct relationship of people with God, has largely abandoned the Belief System of Christianity, and is learning from the social truths that are an integral part of Christian history."

Including most particularly the myriad lessons on what doesn't work. One could build a pretty decent life just not doing what religions did for most of their existence.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joy and Wisdom, and Purpose.

Joy and Wisdom? - Beliefnet:

"As I never had the problem of living with God myths and life after death worries, I discovered both joy and wisdom around 2 when every 'Why?' was met with an answer or a 'Lets find out!' I have never stopped asking 'Why?' and having to take charge of finding out for myself has provided a never ending source of joy, wonder, spirituality (the reward mechanism in the mind for special discoveries) and I trust wisdom. The fact that I have a limited time to do it all, just makes it more exciting and challenging.

The other source of joy and wisdom is the intelligent, educated society that I have chosen as my own personal 'village.' Every time am able to help make that village a little better, by helping new people find their way in it, or by teaching which is the best way to wisdom, I find not only joy but meaning and purpose in the finite life that was nurtured by my parents.

Gods and other fictions are great sources of wisdom, a compelling story is the best way to learn, but it is important to remember that the weaknesses of the protagonist whether called God, or Gandalf, or Batman, are as important as their strengths, as they all are all of us writ large."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spiritual Exercises

Spiritual Exercises | A Sermon by Forrest Church:

"3. Pray for someone you hate. Hatred stokes the mind’s satanic mills, but it is never good for the soul. For this reason, you should choose your enemies carefully. Odds are you’ll become like them. Lifting the burden of hatred from your soul, however, is surprisingly simple. Close your eyes. Imagine your enemy’s face in your mind. And then (in the best 'Love your enemy' spirit) magnanimously pray, 'May so and so find peace within his or her soul.' Such a move is both 'spiritually correct' and self-serving. You are doing yourself the favor. And it always works: you simply can’t hate a person and pray for him at one and the same time."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Fairies, Pots of Gold and Astrology

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet:

"If you could explain what I should reject for all of the above I might be able to answer your question. Must fairies be visible to everyone in the world for them to exist? Must they be visible to anyone in the world? If fairies affect the actions of those who find fairies helpful even if they are never visible, is this data acceptable as to the existence of fairies as conceptual entities?

I have actually seen the end of a rainbow. Technically a halo interrupted by my body which appeared through an artifact of sun position and body position to end at my pockets. The pot of gold turned out to be a few credit cards in one pocket and a bit of change in the other. Must the pot of gold be literally that, or were a couple of credit cards with substantial unused credit lines a modern material equivalent? Or does the fact that the credit lines are imaginary entities in the bank's computer make them unreal? If I use the credit line to buy a pot of gold, does that reify the credit line or the pot of gold at the end of that particular rainbow?

Must astrological bodies actually have a measurable effect on people at the time of their birth to consider astrology to be true. Or since astrological signs correlate with seasonal variations and birth times correlate with conception times, might there be some scientific correlation with personality types and birth and/or conception times? As a speculative example, perhaps a child born in the depths of winter to parents affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder might have less loving care in the critical first few months of life. This could have permanent effects on personality characteristics. If astrologers are using the constellations as a marketing tool for personality analysis guided in part by birth date, does this invalidate astrology?

Just for the record, I consider fairies to be conceptual entities occasionally useful for entertainment value only. I know of no other values associated with fairies. As for the pot of gold, as an allegory for hope at the end of a storm I would find it of some value even though non-existent physically. In spite of my confirmation of its actual existence in one special case. Astrology I consider to be useless, as the potential for scamming totally outweighs any folklore basis for the readings."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Religious history.

How Religion conquered Science - Beliefnet:

I wouldn't hesitate in agreeing that human beings throughout history have been driven by curiosity. They have also been mightily inventive.

I would also concede that we humans have largely been religious throughout history, although that propensity has certainly waned over the last three or four hundred years as our species has intellectually and spiritually matured. Religion now is a sort of hereditary delusion, a hangover from the infancy of mankind, or, as someone once put it, a withered figleaf that hid man's ignorance and fear in ancient times."
Vardu


Delightful.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sexual Maturity

Christian Preschool and Daphne: - Beliefnet :

"Perhaps the confusion is the focus on sexuality. That is the focus of any relationship being on whether or not the pants come off. If the focus is on gender preference, that is who you want to party with for whatever reason, I think the distinction still holds whether or not sex is a consideration or even a possibility.

I will admit that there are many, usually men, for whom the only purpose of a relationship of any kind is sex, testosterone is a powerful driver, a male dog will try to mount a pillow. But part of socialization in humans should be the ability to have relationships where sex is not the driver. In business or community activities sex, as in getting the pants off, had better not be in the picture at all.

In casual relationships one generally sees the heteros gravitating to the opposite gender, and homos toward their own gender whether or not sex is on the horizon. In most cases where testosterone is not the driver, the focus of most casual relationships is developing trust and empathy, perhaps with a closer friendship in mind, and maybe even eventually sex, but the sex would be the icing on the cake. Not the focus of the whole meal. One might call it social maturity. Getting past the puberty rut."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet:

"The sin of Sodom that got it destroyed by God was inhospitality. In a desert community refusing hospitality was probably comparable to refusing to help an injured man by the side of the road. The chances were good that one refused a drink of water, could dehydrate before getting to the next stopping place.

But he was not telling us to love just the nice neighbors, but all of them. This of course does not mean approving of everything they do, but that violations of the social contract must be dealt with with love rather than hate. This is quite similar to the UU first principle of radical respect for all people. This does not give them open season on your wife, your car, or your dog, but you do not assume that that is what they want in life. Even in the face of direct evidence to the contrary it may be possible to encourage rehab rather than revenge.

This is not an easy standard even today. Many years ago my young kids shared a park with drug dealers in NYC. The dealers had their side, and the kids and university people the other side. It was not easy to teach children that these were not bad people but that their wares were dangerous. It was important to do so because there were 'good' people selling drugs. In fact it was the good people that were the most dangerous as they could mix with the university people and the kids unnoticed. You may have read of my encounter with a drug dealer on the wrong side of the park. He was by all appearances a good person. Had he not solicited me for business I never would have looked at him twice. Prejudice cuts both ways."

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus -- Beliefnet:

"Since the God Jesus was referring to was a personal God not subject to anyone else's approval I suspect that your secular conscience would be acceptable to Jesus as the God he was referring to. But again, God was the dominant social paradigm at the time atheists and secularists really were non-existent. Even a personal God independent of any religion was radically humanist for the time.

I see no religious establishment in the sayings of Jesus. He was in all sayings directly attributed to him giving religion back to the people. John and Paul were of course trying to build a religious establishment on the back of Jesus. But I don't find that in the teachings of Jesus."

Men are Dumb.

The Fruit of the Teaching "Males are Superior" - Beliefnet :

Men are dumb. Very dumb.
Dar

"Probably one of the major causes of misogyny. As my med professional ex frequently asserted, 'To succeed in medical research a woman must be smarter than all the men around her. Fortunately, this is a normal condition.'

Intelligence breeds true, and in the Kinder, Küche, Kirche world intelligence, including social intelligence is a key to reproductive success. It is no wonder that when women get out of the house sexism is the only advantage men have.

When you think about it, reproductive success for males has much less to do with intelligence than with power and dominance skills, including sexual dominance, one does not kneel before the male leader to get tapped on the shoulder. Physical skills as in staying alive in the hunt or the battle are important as well. Even today the Homecoming King is not the science geek, but the athlete. As my father the athlete would remind me 'Don't think, you weaken the ball club.'

So, Dar, don't hold it against men that they are dumb. You women selected them for that feature."

The rough patches in life.

Pulling at the threads - Beliefnet:

"Most of my University educated friends don't reach for history books or religious works to help them through their rough patches. They are more likely to turn to modern philosophical fiction or other modern mythology in cinema, dance, music, or whatever their dominant genre is to gain the strength to solve their problems.

Some use eclectic combinations that may include ancient mythology, (it won't last if it doesn't contain some truth) in my case religious music, not for the God data but for the problem solving data that it contains. But a reliance on a single source God, the Bible, or even a personal conversation with God, generally results in bad solutions to the problem.

Underlying it all is the collected wisdom of the social group chosen by the individual which points them in the most useful direction. For the religious this may well be God or the Bible, but mono-cultural data is normally useful only within that culture."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet:

"You need to strip the God from Jesus the man, and the stage magic that was his stock in trade, then put the rest of what he said in the context of his time. A good place to start would be the Jefferson Bible in which Jefferson, an atheist, well, Deist politically, literally cut up the Synoptics to find out what Jesus was all about.

While you are at it forget about prooftexing it is no more becoming for an atheist than for a fundie.

As a starter take Matthew 22: 37 ff.
...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

There is a good reason that much of modern Christianity, the 'Progressive Christians' have for the most part reduced the entire law and the prophets, that is the whole Bible, to this teaching of Jesus. An atheist can learn simply by studying this and its context.

True it refers to God but look at the God it refers to: Thy God. Not the God of Moses or Abraham, or the prophets, or the priests. Thy God, God which speaks directly to the individual. With this three letter word 'Thy' he is basically telling the whole religious establishment to go to Hell in their own way.

'Love thy neighbor.' He goes on to identify the neighbor as a Samaritan, in our terms a Muslim terrorist. He had recently left a Samaritan village where he was refused hospitality, one of the most grievous affronts in that desert society. And now a Samaritan is his neighbor?

'As thyself.' In those days as now religion made a good living selling self-hate. Jesus is clearly stating that all humans are worthy of self-respect. You can't get much more humanist than that. Theistic humanist? Of course theism was the language of the time."

God's All-loving Nature. Not

God - Tales of Mere Existence - Beliefnet:

"As someone who has put serious effort into understanding God I have come to a quite different conclusion. I find nothing at all of God's all-loving nature and therefore have no wish to conform to His mysogynic and hateful teachings. I am assuming you are talking about the Abrahamic God who not only has one but is one. I will admit that Jesus tried valiantly for his era to counter some of this hate, but was immediately trumped by Paul who discovered that self-hate sells better than self love. Perhaps you are one of those fighting a rearguard action to return Christianity to Jesus. But I don't see how that is possible by including God in the picture.

Such effort is not easy, but I can see no other conclusion but to reject God in all known forms. By the way Jesus is excepted from this rejection as he was in no way a God."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Atheists and Jesus - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet:

"It is perhaps useful to understand the background and biases of the creator of the entity, but you need to know nothing about Paul to understand that the entity of Jesus Christ is the savior of all who do bad things. You need to know nothing about John to understand that the God he was creating based loosely on the contemporary myth of Jesus of Nazareth was bringing Godhood to humanity. You need to know nothing about Mary Magdalene to understand the message of the itinerant preacher/entertainer she was telling about. You don't even need to know if Jesus was a real person. Her creation, even if a roman à clef was extremely influential, misused, abused, or studied."

Atheists and Jesus - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet:

"Kermit the Frog, Jubal Hartshaw, Jesus, and God are well defined, consistently portrayed (at least locally in the case of God) constructed entities that are used for the purpose of entertainment and perhaps teaching. While it is useful to understand the background of the the creator of the entity it is not necessary at all to appreciate the message of the entity.

It is quite reasonable to discuss the social and moral views of the entity as depicted in the realization of that entity, without knowing anything at all about the creator. It is useful to suspend disbelief in the reality of the character to appreciate the entertainment/message but not necessary. One can appreciate the message of It isn't Easy Being Green even if one is well aware of the fact that what is being referred to is a green sock puppet. Of course the target audience is not adult curmudgeons who cannot get past the reality of a sock puppet, but small children for whom suspension of disbelief is as natural as breathing.

As an aside one of the reasons for the success of Sesame Street was that much of the entertainment/message was directed at the parents who were being lulled into not believing the sock puppets were real. It is no easier being a minority parent than it is to be a green sock puppet."

Friday, November 5, 2010

US Politics and the Third World

As you know I was active in the Obama and health care campaigns. It turned out he was just another Chicago politician. He had the votes for real health care reform, real stimulus, and real financial reform. He blew all three. I won't say he was listening to the big money he claims he didn't take, but you can draw your own conclusions. He sure is listening now.

I am beginning to think that the federal government is largely irrelevant anymore. They will continue to drive the red states into third world status, and the university enclaves will make their own little worlds. The beach states in the West, New England and the Middle Atlantic and a few enclaves in the rest of the country will, in effect ignore the rest of the country and Washington, and build their own society.

Watch California. We beat the money. Whatever you think of Gov Moonbeam he was the best Governor in the past 50 or so years. We may even get our own health Care system. The rudiments are in place now. It will be interesting. Even Orange County left the tea party. It was either that or join the third world.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Blag Hag: Ripping MS -ogyny

Blag Hag: Does the media really care where the atheist women are?
:
The main article is an incredibly good response to a MS(ogyny) article on female atheists. Don't bother with the MS article.

"jgbel in reply to J'Carlin
So, when you say 'theists,' you of course mean only male theists, right? Which makes up what percentage of the population, and excuses what?

J'Carlin in reply to jgbel
Not really, look at any religious site and see the number of females that buy into the 'be submissive' role. I don't have demographic data, I don't think Pew Research has done a survey on submissive females in the churches.

It excuses nothing. Bigotry and sexism has no excuse. But it is all too common among both genders in religious circles. Certainly more among the men, and men are more blatant and proud of their misogyny."

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet :

"I think it is important to recognize in any discussion of Jesus by atheists that we are dealing with a very sketchy story heavily edited to conform with the theistic tenor of the times. Even emperors were promoted as gods.

What I get from the story is a humanistic and anti-religious message. Radical for its time and place. Certainly God is there but it is a personal not a male religious God. I find a strong feminine influence on the message at least as unpolluted by John and Paul who were usurpers not apostles of his message.

Admittedly a lot of soup from one oyster, but when the oyster is strongly and uniquely flavored, it may not be a useless soup. Even for an atheist. I and many Christians frequently use Jesus as a powerful weapon against Christian hate. It is hard to rationalize a hate mongering preacher/pastor in the face of 'love thy neighbor.' In particular when the neighbor explicitly referred to was a member of a hated group that had just caused Jesus to 'shake the dust off his sandals' for one of the most serious breaches imaginable of the social contract of the time. Even the 'love thyself' can be a powerful weapon as the control mechanism of the preacher/pastor of hate is self-hate. 'I confess I am a miserable sinner who can only be saved from Hell by Christ' This of course is pure Paul, and has nothing at all to do with Jesus."

Fighting Two Fronts - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community

Fighting Two Fronts - Beliefnet From a generally useless thread:

"For those for whom God is the awe-ful, controlling big daddy (always male) in the sky, they must fight every loss of power. If God looses control over creation, and in particular creation of man (human males) in His image, He loses control over everything: Morality, the prieshood, women and even men.

However, this is not by any stretch all theists. Frequently atheists spend entirely too much energy and ammunition (torches for straw men) on this God which you note correctly is increasingly irrelevant.

In general God is a centering/focusing point or entity which is a community building aid for the moral and social cohesion for a functioning society. I would suggest that a majority of theists in Europe and the 'Blue' USA are using God in a beneficial way for the larger society including atheists, and atheists should be careful in choosing the enemy. A blanket condemnation of all theists or even all Christians, may be alienating some powerful allies in the fight against fundamentalism. Many of the scientists eliminating the gaps for the creationist God to hide in are Christians, and quite devout in their God beliefs. It is just that the Male Creator is not the God they focus on. It is important to be aware of the difference. I find 'He' is the touchstone. Anyone referring to God as He can be presumed guilty. Those that are aware of the gender issues are our friends."

I find it very encouraging that many devout Christians are focusing on the direct connection with God advocated by Jesus. "Worship the Lord thy God with all thy heart...." in effect eliminating that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony unless hesh looses the hubris of speaking as God but is speaking for God as hesh understands God in herm society.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lust, Commitment, and Morality

Question about Actions and Consequence - Beliefnet :

"The difficulty here is that unfortunately bullying is one of the social contract enforcement mechanisms. This does not excuse it, but it is up to the people who are establishing the social contract to insure that bigotry is not a part of it. I think in Tyler's [Clementi] case the bullying was independent of the nuanced definition of sexual immorality I was discussing. It was pure homophobic bigotry. The nature of the relationship other than the homosexuality was immaterial.

I think in Paul's moral teaching he was trying, clumsily, to differentiate between lust, that is sex for gratification only with sex in a committed relationship (marriage.) As an amusing aside it would be interesting to question Paul about the morality of the relationship between the Centurian and his pais.

I would find it a major advance in social morality if people did look down on others who have lustful sex, particularly heterosexual lustful sex, which I hope was clearly the point of my post. A few of the homosexuals I knew well enough in the NYC arts community to know their relationship status were in committed relationships and did in fact 'look down' on the gay bar scene.

'Tis a dream of course. Until the churches and other 'tight' communities are inclusive enough to provide relationship incubation for all, the bar scene will be well patronized by all gender preferences, lust is too powerful to be thwarted by Paul or any mortal."

I have often wondered if choirs would have any males at all if they weren't relationship incubators for gays. Or dance groups. I don't know about other arts groups, but those groups seem to have more than their demographic share of gays.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Morals without God?

Morals without God? - Beliefnet:

"How could [morality not follow current fashion.} Morality is the genetic propensity of an intelligent social animal to comply with the mores of the society of which hesh is a part. It actually does not follow current fashion, but follows the dictates of the individual's chosen society. It may be a church, it may be a gang, it may be an intelligently selected community of, for example, university educated people, or an industry or charitable consortium, etc. All are influenced by the integrated mores of the larger society, currently national, but regional differences are emerging at least in the USA."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet :

"Atheists arguing about the existence of Jesus or the 'truth' in the Gospels among themselves are being willfully blind to the importance and humanistic message of the preacher who probably was called Jesus or Yeshua depending on the language assumption.

The story if you will or oral history which was probably the case in that illiterate culture was probably originated by a companion of Jesus in his travels, my guess is Mary Magdalene. She probably helped him hone his message, I see a lot of anti-misogyny in it, at least in the context of the time. No man thought up the tale of the unstoned whore.

I am of course speaking of the Synoptic Gospels, by the time John and Paul came around to create a God the story was destroyed beyond recognition. I think there is a lot to be learned by atheists from the Synoptics, I generally use Jefferson's extract. Hey, if a famous atheist like Jefferson can find value in the Bible who am I to argue.

Disclaimer: I owe much of my interpretation of the Gospels to Heinlein and his allegory of Jesus in Michael Smith and Gillian Bordman in Stranger in a Strange Land. The thinking is of course mine."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Intellectual Poverty of Rationalism

Antitheism? - Beliefnet:

"If a rationalist is unable to suspend disbelief as claimed to enjoy a learning experience or even a rollicking good time at a movie, reading a worth while fiction, listening to an emotional piece of music, or attending a religious service, but must analyze every nuance for compliance with their understanding of reality, usually material, is missing a major portion of what I experience as being an intelligent human.

The wonder and joy of a rainbow does not need be parsed into light ray patterns and ignored as merely physics. Although doing so after enjoying the wonder of the moment does not diminish and may increase the wonder and joy. Understanding that a rainbow is created by and uniquely for oneself is 'not merely physics' the interaction of the non-rational portion of the mind is essential.

I suspend disbelief in God each time I sing a Mass or a prayer in order to appreciate the non-rational wonder and beauty of a transcendant being that watches over me even after I die. Sure when it is over, all that remains is the wonder and beauty, and I might add the appreciation of the faith of believers, although I do not participate in it. I finally came to grips with the finality of death by understand the power of the 'Et Expecto' by believing it for a while."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Conundrums

There Is No God - Beliefnet:

"There is no materialist conundrum. WE are not the ones having a problem with a god - we simply don't accept that one exists. THEISTS are the ones with the conundrum - how to convince (i.e., proselytize) others of the existence of something for which they have no inductive or deductive evidence?

They've figured it out to an extent - brainwash children before the age of reason with the creation mythology nonsense, and hope it sticks out of habit, or approach people who are emotionally fragile or medically fragile and are looking for any comfort, and hope it works with them over the long term.

But they are unable to deal with rational adults who don't need their particular night light, and it totally frightens them. As well it should. Because if rational, thinking people don't need their myth after exploring it in depth, maybe their myth isn't real at all, and maybe the theists should rethink things."

Thanks TolerantSis

Theodicy

There Is No God - Beliefnet:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

~Epicurus


Thanks Kwinters for this

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Morality as Face Group

Please Critique My Idea Of God - Beliefnet:

"Managing my life for the good of my chosen society is more basic than a call by God on my conscience. Humans as highly intelligent and extremely social animals are genetically programmed to learn all they can about the customs and mores of their tribe or social group as defined prehistorically by those whose faces they encountered on a daily basis. There could be no thought of violating these customs and mores, as doing so would cause banishment and a solo human was a dead human. This is the basis of conscience, not some big daddy in the sky. As tribes got larger and the face groups dispersed, myth and lore took the place of customs and mores, and the shamans in charge of maintaining the myth and lore found that an imaginary superface as part of every group, inevitably in the image of the group was very useful to enforce the precepts of the myth and lore. Hence the evolution of your First Cause, traditionally referred to as God. As shamans and God became more powerful and manipulative many of the conscience functions and exceptions to them became the province of God. Do what God tells you to do began to override the do what is right of the conscience. Especially when God got to be Maitre d'Hotel of the afterlife, and doing what God tells you to do became the cumshaw.

The reason I feel the need to take control of my life is twofold. The first is as you note the conscience but in the original sense of internalized customs and mores of the face group. The world is too big to be a face group these days but if we choose carefully there are a group of people whose customs and mores we can internalize. That group will look a lot like our family and close friends even when extended to people we probably will never meet. My group consists of intelligent, well educated, self actualizing people who are capable of and interested in making changes to the relevant society of intelligent, well educated, self actualizing people. Most of us have found God and gods of any form limiting and dysfunctional to our society.

One of the results is the second reason for ignoring God, that is that the only life that counts is the one that begins with birth and ends with death. It is the only one we can be sure of, and Pascal's wager fails on the plethora of possible God bets each with different rules for living. So we live as if the only important contribution we can make is by living according to the best interests of our chosen society. The agnostics among us suggest that if God is the Maitre d' in the afterlife that is all Hesh would care about anyway."

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Christian's Problem

Richard Dawkins Thread v2.0 - Beliefnet:

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. --Edmund Burke

As long as people apologize for the Pope, and moderate Christians apologize for Paul, simply because God appointed them, Dawkins has a valid point that moderates enable fanaticism. If when the average citizen hears 'Christian' the first thing that pops into mind is Fred Phelps, or people protesting mosques, Christians have a problem.

If on a religious site a statement of the form 'Christians are assholes of a particular kind' is censored, because only some Christians are assholes of that kind. Christians have a problem: Christians need to deal with assholes of that kind. Judging people by the labels they accept, is a natural and necessary evolutionary adaptation of humans. Labels cause wars. It is best that the label one accepts is kept clean."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paul's sins

Sex and spirituality. - Beliefnet:

"I do blame Paul. He needed a bunch of sins that people could adopt to consider themselves sinners so that they would need his savior. In Romans 1 he really covers the waterfront, and in Corinthians he picks up normal sex as a sin. You say you are not a sinner? Do you have sex of any kind? Gotcha! The Romans sins are easier to deny, or point at others as examples, but 'God knows' so all need salvation. This was the genius of Paul. Call it perverted genius if you will, but every Christian can find a sin for hermself in Paul. And for everybody else so hesh doesn't feel lonely."

Gender Definitions.

Sex and spirituality. - Beliefnet:

"In defining what constitutes gender I suspect I am an apostate to the traditional males, although thoroughly and happily heterosexual. I am much more interested in relationships than sex, and partnerships rather than dominance. When I had growing children I did more than my share of parenting since my partner had the more demanding career and I had no problem with playing the male MBA card when necessary to change jobs and careers to accommodate parenting.

Probably because I make a point of noticing them, I see more males adopting this relationship model rather than the traditional if the sex is good it is good model. If this is effeminate so be it. I don't think so, I think it is simply not being a prick. That is one who is driven by testosterone to spread genes as far and wide as possible. I see the testosterone driven model waning at least among the educated elite, but perhaps that is wishful thinking and I am only noticing the minority that isn't growing at all. I hope not, as I think this is the only way a modern society can survive. Relegating half the society's brain power to the bedroom is not going to work."

Common Religious Morality

The Bright Line... - Beliefnet Community:

"There is no common religious conclusion on morality. Each ignorant man, noting the benefit of having a God at his back invented one, and the morals to go with it. That includes your Abrahamic preachers like Moses and Paul. Religious morality is not common or I should say common only in the sense of its trashiness, but each iteration of God has a different despicable moral standard that is only good for the tribe of the shaman, if that. Normally it is good only for the shaman, priest, preacher, pastor, minister, or whatever they choose to call themselves. They take a collection, toss it into the air for God to take his share, and they keep all that falls on the floor. This was called morality by that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony long before there were vuvuzelas, tinhorns, or shofars to blow at the marks in the pews."

World-Views

Why do they believe? - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community:

"What is a world-view if not the way we operate in and react to reality? Certainly all world-views are dependent on previous experiences with reality. Some are more consistent with reality than others. Those conditioned by myths that reality can be affected by magic will tend to view reality as magical. Those conditioned to see reality as affected only by real actions will tend to experiment with real actions to see how they will affect reality. They adopt a world view based on real actions that affect reality in ways that they have learned to be beneficial. Those with a magical world view tend to wish for changes rather than figuring out how to make changes happen. In the most extreme cases of magical world-views people simply bumble through life wishing that in the end all will be nice. This is abetted by various shamans, priests, preachers, etc. who sell World them a very nice end that they never have to deliver."

Abstinance

Protest the Pope - Beliefnet:

So ... you think that The Bishop of Rome is WRONG about 'Abstinence' ...
teilhard


"Completely, unequivocally, and disastrously wrong. Abstinence advocacy causes more social dysfunction than any other Christian concept. Abuse of children is only a minor side effect of the doctrine. There is no good reason for saying sex, any and all kinds of consensual sex is wrong. Paul and the Pope want it to be sin so everybody is a sinner. But their need to sell their savior does not justify in any way the doctrine that sex is sin."

Paradise

Life after death? - Beliefnet :

"Then you had better build Paradise here and now while you are alive to enjoy it. Select your friends, and your affective inputs, movies, TV, books, music, carefully, and you may find it. Let others choose for you and you are stuck in the equivalent of a religious dictatorship."

Using the Bible

Romans 1:27 - Beliefnet:

"I use the Bible to try to understand the context of my friends' thinking. I don't really care about what ancient people were thinking, I am concerned about how that thinking affects people today. Accordingly I read the Bible large chunks at a time, usually in several English versions. I have seldom found a 'proof-text' that in context means anything at all like what it is claimed to have meant.

Whether I like the passage or not is quite immaterial. If it is important to a friend it is important to me to see why they find it important, and whether they are ignoring context or not. If they are ignoring context that is an important data point, that will tell me how I want to deal with that person, if at all."

Midwest Cuisine cooking

The Tea House - Beliefnet:

"I grew up in Toledo OH along with Gael Greene food columnist for the New Yorker. She summed up Toledo as a place where Velveeta Cheese is found on the gourmet counter of the supermarket.

I told my Chinese wife about boiled vegetables, and she said 'That would make good soup.' I told her mom threw out the cooking water and she just sighed and said no wonder you like Chinese food."

My mate is also Chinese.

I get "You are not throwing that out are you?" all the time.

My dumb question of the week was" are you really going to eat...???" in reference to a little octopi , still wiggling and slightly pickled, she replied "isn't it cute?" and plopped it in her mouth.

I turned whiter than I already am.
Dar-

Asparagus

The Tea House - Beliefnet:

"One of the veggies I hated most as a small child was asparagus. My dad grew it, we would lovingly harvest it, mom would boil it until it was grey, and I ate it cause I had to. Tonight at dinner I had a Shanghai style stir-fried asparagus with beef. Even late season asparagus was wonderful. Never too old to learn."

On Wicked Hearts

Romans 1:27 - Beliefnet:

"Thank you for asking. I not only deny that the human heart is deceitfully wicked, but I hold anyone teaching that it is must be held responsible for the damage that such teaching inevitably causes. I begin with Paul, and continue through current 'Pastors' that fill their limos with the hatred they run on.

There is a current revival of South Pacific, and one of the key songs is 'You've Got to be Taught' As a child your heart is filled with love for everybody, until mom or some other mentor says 'they are not like us.' From the song: 'You've got to be taught to hate and fear, its got to be drummed in your dear little ear. You've got to be taught to be afraid of people whose eyes are oddly made or people whose skin is a different shade. You've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be taught before it's too late, before you are six or seven or eight.' (from memory, any misquote is mine.)

It doesn't really matter who it is that you are supposed to hate, it comes down to they are not us, be afraid. And from fear comes hate, and all the evil fruits of hate. Sirron has shown us some of the fruits of that hate.

I was fortunate, hate was not a part of my childhood, I didn't even understand the song when I went to South Pacific as a young man. I asked my parents about it, and they didn't think I was old enough to deal with it, and told me to think about it later when I found out about hate. They did things like that frequently, so I put it in the hate file along with other things I wasn't ready for yet. They did not want to contaminate my heart with deceit and wickedness. They knew I would be exposed to deceit and wickedness soon enough and gave me the tools to deal with it but not in my heart, in my head. They expected me to keep my heart unblemished by evil."

The Ice Cream Diet

The Tea House - Beliefnet:

"At one point in my life I was packing on some 'swivel chair spread' keeping up with my teen age sons at the dinner table. One day on the way home I gave in to the Flavor of the Month at Baskin-Robbins, I always was a sucker for caramel. One day led to the next and they renewed the flavor for another month. My then wife asked if I was sick since I was losing weight and just picking at my dinner, I said no, I feel great, and added up two scoops to two scoops and my mothers 'no cookies you will spoil your dinner.' It equaled 4 pounds/week lost.

Since then whenever I am chubbing up I add real ice cream before dinner and fix it. (The butter fat and sugar just destroys any appetite.)"

Tough Times and Atheism

Separating truth from superstition - Beliefnet:

"As for the tough times, even smart, tough, atheists run into them. It is called living long enough to enjoy them. Not while you are in them but later. As Forrest Church says in Love in Death, 'We cannot protect love from death. But by giving away our hearts, we can protect our lives from the death of love.' I find that thought useful as much for living as for dealing with death. To love is to risk hurt. It is always worth it."

Learning from Religions

Separating truth from superstition - Beliefnet:

"Picking and choosing among religious beliefs is not only tolerable it is the only way to learn from religions. All religions have a lot to teach about being alive and having to die. That is why they are all still around. When I go to any religious meeting, or even sing a prayer or Mass, I do my best to understand it from the POV of a believer, and then think about it later to figure out what was worth learning, what needed to be reinterpreted, and what needed to be rejected lock, stock, barrel and dogma."

Atheist Belief Systems?

How many flavors are there? - Beliefnet:

"In a lifetime of living as an atheist, and primarily with atheists, I have yet to find any with belief systems. They may incorporate items from other belief systems into their world view, or as I prefer to call it their paradigm for making it from birth to death and in my case building a legacy in the process. Is the space I am building for others to enjoy when I die a belief in an afterlife? I don't think so. I won't be there to enjoy it.

I do not spend any time on the supernatural, the natural contains enough transcendent wonder for my needs, especially when enhanced by the beauties of well done science at all levels. It is amusing to build fantasies on Universalist afterlife theology (which I am not sure even they believe in) but they are fantasies not a reason to abandon a focus on living."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Atheists, agnostics know more about religion than believers

Atheists, agnostics know more about religion than believers, finds US survey:

"A new survey, which measured Americans' knowledge of religion, has found that atheists and agnostics knew more than followers of most major faiths. According to the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a majority of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation.

It also revealed that four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

It said that atheists and agnostics - those who believe there is no God or who are not sure - were more likely to answer the survey's questions correctly."

Surprise, surprise. If you only know what that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony tells you you can know it is easy to believe because he won't tell you anything else. Once you start learning about your religion, read your Holy Book without the study guide, maybe look at related religions that your friends believe in and find out more about them the less sense any religion makes. So then you start down the slippery slope of finding a religion that makes any sense at all, end up in woo-woo land and finally pick a church for the social and networking benefits, and/or the music. The one thing the Christian God does better than any other God is inspire composers to comment on the Mass and the prayers. Some of the comments are not too nice, but the music is still great.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inherent Morality

The Bright Line... - Beliefnet:
it is 'The Point' consider this: before you or I or anyone ( indigenous tribes included), can take any action, we must first pause and consider the rightness or the wrongness of that action... we pre-read/re-read the law/morality affixed upon our conscience.... and we act upon the resolution of such thoughts (hopefully that which is right)... we take our self to court 'first', and then act.. we are so constructed, that like in the above exercise of defining a moral action with non moral components, it is logically and linguistically IMPOSSIBLE
Leight


Perhaps it is, however, it is only theists that are claiming that ANYONE is trying to make moral decisions without a moral framework. What you so consistently and valiantly ignore, time and time again, is that ETHICS and MORALITY are qualities inherent in all people. Those concepts were not invented by Christians, they were not handed down by any god, they are a valuable and necessary component of human survival, brought about by impersonal forces of survival and death. It really is that simple. Just because some religion thousands of years ago (and I'd wager it was one much older than yours) decided to USURP the concepts of morality and PRETEND that morality was only given by a god, that does not make it true in any way.

Morality is the evolutionary tool by which social animals (like humans, but not only humans) survive to provide the next generation. Morality is built upon empathy, and flavoured by an ability to understand consequences of one's actions. Those species that depend on their community to survive, will not survive long have no instinct for protecting and helping others as well as themselves. Thay instinct becomes 'morality' in animals with more brainspace than they really need.
cptspith

Becoming Atheist

The Bright Line... - Beliefnet:

"There are no atheists who believe they are Godlike. That means that no person indoctrinated in the belief that they are made in the image of God can be an atheist. They can only attempt to do the truly impossible for themselves that is erase the Godlikness (sic) from themselves.

A Christian or any other theist can become an atheist but only by coming to realize that they are not made in the image of God and have no wish to be because God as depicted by their faith is petty, insecure, violent, and misanthropic, that is God hates all people. They have no interest in maintaining that image of themselves and must take on the difficult but not impossible task of rejecting their childhood indoctrination. In my experience, those who accept the indoctrination as adults have a much more difficult task of discovering what the God they are supposed to be in the image of is really like. Once they do the rest is easy."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Selfish or Social

Life after death? - Beliefnet:

There's no such thing as a selfless act. When people do good to others they only do this to benefit themselves.
Timothy

"Not only a wrong opinion but scientifically wrong. Humans are highly evolved social animals. Until recently anti-social acts were a death sentence, including acts that benefited the individual only, that is, a selfish act. There is no such thing in a social animal herd as a 'good' that only benefits the adult that performed the act. Maturing animals certainly, they must be selfish as infants to stay alive, but maturing is learning the rules of the herd, pack, or tribe, and violating those rules is banishment at least and a even a lone wolf is a dead wolf.

Even evil acts by adults must be done in the context of a social good, usually but not always blessed by God. Torquemada and Hitler were both protecting their chosen societies, and the benefit was not to self, but to the ideal of the betterment of the local Catholic or Aryan society."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Spiritual but Not Religious

Common ground? Maybe we can all get along after all. - Beliefnet:

"Spirituality is a natural human response to awe and wonder at unusual things that can be used as landmarks. Constellations, Rock formations, etc. Also for unusually beautiful and centering phenomena like rainbows, a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or just the Milky Way on a crystal clear night in a non light polluted area. The shamans and that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony will try to co-opt this natural response into the service of God, but spirituality came first and God was created later. But since God can be a centering phenomenon as well it is not a surprise that this co-opting is common. Theists are welcome to their God based spirituality, I will take the naturally generated stuff straight."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Fallacy of the Cipher.

Life after death? - Beliefnet:

"Timothy, 2 + 2 = 4. But 2 + 2 + 0 = 4, too. What you are arguing is what I like to call the fallacy of the cipher (perhaps one day it will make it into the logical fallacies' lists), or is similarly called Occam's Razor. The simplest explanation usually is the correct one, and if you are interested, there are some pretty neat examples from science I can give you.

What you are arguing is yes, when death occurs, all life functions cease, and that yes, the life functions are what animate the body. 2 + 2 = 4. To that point, we agree. But then you argue that some unseen, unmeasurable, unknown substance/entity which you call a 'soul' is responsible for all the life functions doing what they do to animate the body. That's a cipher. (2 + 2 + 0 = 4) You can't demonstrate one, you can't show a disembodied 'soul', you have no evidence whatsoever for your 'soul' except for what you want to believe because you have a lot of trouble getting over the idea that your 'self' ends when your life functions cease.
Tolerant Sis"

The best argument against the existence of a God generated soul I have seen. Thanks TS.

Works well as an argument against God as well.

B flat.

The 'existence' of gods - Beliefnet:

"My answer to lack of faith is to enjoy the symphony of life without the vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony droning loudly in B flat. I don't need to E-X-P-E-R-I-E-N-C-E B flat. I hear it wherever there are mindless idiots doing whatever mindless idiots do. There are all too many of them, but fortunately B flat is easy to ignore while you are getting to interesting places where it isn't the only note on the program."

Who Cares?

The 'existence' of gods - Beliefnet :

"'Who cares?' or its many street language equivalents is a 't'riffic' argument against any religious assertion. It is the one argument God can't deal with.

God says do this or don't do this with your penis (God doesn't care about women,) someone says 'Who cares?' and sin and Paul evaporate from the world and salvation is a non issue. But then, who cares?"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Gospel of Wealth

Op-Ed Columnist - The Gospel of Wealth - NYTimes.com:

"The United States once had a Gospel of Wealth: a code of restraint shaped by everybody from Jonathan Edwards to Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie. The code was designed to help the nation cope with its own affluence. It eroded, and over the next few years, it will be redefined."

Please note that the Robber Barons of the 19th Century did well by doing good. Building the railroads, the banks, the commercial empires, the utilities etc. Some frittered away their fortunes, others used them to create libraries, universities, and other public assets. But the important thing was the way they made their money. Today's super rich are rebuilding the financial system, the information infrastructure, and the other necessities of modern living.

God or Mammon - Take your pick

Op-Ed Columnist - The Gospel of Wealth - NYTimes.com:

"The tension between good and plenty, God and mammon, became the central tension in American life, propelling ferocious energies and explaining why the U.S. is at once so religious and so materialist. Americans are moral materialists, spiritualists working on matter.

Platt is in the tradition of those who don’t believe these two spheres can be reconciled. The material world is too soul-destroying. “The American dream radically differs from the call of Jesus and the essence of the Gospel,” he argues. The American dream emphasizes self-development and personal growth. Our own abilities are our greatest assets."

These two spheres cannot be reconciled because the American dream requires intelligence and reasoning to achieve the self-development and personal growth. Religion requires conceding self-development to the church, that is, the little vuvuzelas (tinhorns are archaic) in the fancy dresses in the overdecorated balconies like David Platt.

Religion and Evolution

Keeping state out of church? - Beliefnet :

"Religion is one of the ways societies evolve. It is where social paradigms are tested and worked out. As long as they are not accepting public money, except for the tax exemption, a bad idea imo but historically entrenched, they can do anything they want inside the church. Including educating or not educating their children as they please. If they wish to discriminate on any basis they wish inside the church that is no business of society.

I don't even have a problem with political action by churches, although I wish there were a way to tax their political action funds, but religions have the same rights as any other 'person' in our society to create a society that they want. It is up to other 'persons' in the society to insure that dysfunctional religious ideas do not affect the rest of the society. This is how evolution works."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good and Evil

Epicurus? - Beliefnet:

A personal view of good and evil is "Perhaps an Epicurean POV, or a caricature of a theist's view of atheism. Or both.

It has no basis in reality. Good and evil are determined by the effects of the action on the society of the person. The effect on the yenta. If she shakes her finger it is evil. If she perchance smiles it is good. We all have yentas in our lives. It usually starts with mom and ripples out from there to the yenta on her stoop. Some people replace the yenta with God but God usually devolves into that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony. If hesh blows the vuvuzela better not do it again. Hesh never smiles."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Christian for Eternity

The Bright Line - Beliefnet:

"We atheists will die and as a result of our living a righteous and moral life according to our chosen society that society will be a little or a lot better because we lived. We get continuous feedback from that society that we are doing the righteous and moral things that improve that society so that when we die the society will be better than when we were born. We have no need to imagine what will happen when we die, we can look back as others will and see how we made our society better. I am using 'we' here not to represent all atheists, just the ones that think as I do about living and death.

I am glad you, as a Christian, believe that God will take care of you when you die. You seem to have done nothing of worth in this life but annoy strangers with your blather about God and the Hell you created for yourself in this life as a rebelling Christian. I hope God will ignore all that and reward your belief with His eternal presence. I doubt it, but hang tight to that belief. It is all you have."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Mind?

Where Is The Mind? - Beliefnet :

"Lets be honest here. In Christian myth, human minds created God, in order to create and sustain their little universe. Y'know the circle of the earth with the canopy of the heavens and a pile of dirt to turn into a human in the image of the minds that created God."

Good and Evil

Epicurus? - Beliefnet:

"Human social structures originally tribes and later villages and parishes decided definitively what was good and what was evil. Basically what was good was what created trust and cooperation within the tribe and what was evil was that which weakened the tribe by causing divisiveness and intra-tribal strife. Shamans quickly discovered that using God as a super cop not only gave them power as the interpreter for the super cop, but allowed them to add control rules to the natural good and evil recognized intuitively by the tribe.

As societies got larger the God interpreted good and evil was no longer effective as inter-tribal warfare was the norm for God, and the society needed to control this with secular laws and punishments for transgressions in this life not the next.

Good and evil were still defined by what created trust and cooperation and evil was still that which created divisiveness and strife. One important advancement in larger societies was recognizing that God inspired intra-tribal strife was an important evil and must be controlled."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Scientific Literacy

Scientific Illiteracy - Beliefnet:

"Your elitism is showing, I know people of average intelligence that paid attention in good schools that can read a science article in the NYTimes and discuss, for example, the political implications with competence and incidentally correct English. That is what I mean by scientific literacy. In fact I have discussed science articles with a Down's Syndrome adult, that could make sense of them and make reasonable decisions about them. No special ed. Just an ordinary NYC public high school. He took biology and chemistry, and was delighted that I had a BS in Chem and would discuss things with him. Yeah, a Nobel Prize isn't in his future, in fact college wasn't either, a minor problem with College Board scores. But he was very good at what he did, and did what he could with what he had intellectually."

Cultures Decay

The Bright Line... - Beliefnet:

There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew
that cultures decay, and life's end is death.
Robinson Jeffers The Purse-Seine, 1937

"I might add that religious cultures also decay. In any event life's end is death. For the theist, for the failed theist and for the atheist: life's end is death. Perhaps only atheists have come to terms with that truth."

Christianity or Shinto

On replacing Christianity with Shinto - Beliefnet:

"I find the evolutionary reason behind religion is not spiritual fulfillment, but for community identity. The spiritual fulfillment is co-opted by the shamans as a community building and unifying technique.

While Shinto has some very attractive attributes, I suspect that trying to convert Christians is a lost cause. Christ gives hope to the hopeless at least after they die, and the minister makes sure they are hopeless sinners, at least in their own minds.

A more useful exercise, is to promote 'Progressive Christianity' with its emphasis on Jesus' teachings of a direct personal relationship with God and its corollary love your neighbors even if your other neighbors hate them. It is a natural progression for Christians who get tired of the hellfire and damnation bigotry of traditional Christian teachings. They get to keep their Jesus mediated afterlife, and all the spirituality. A much easier conversion process.

I find the Two Great Commandments very easy to live with as an atheist, and the personal God of the first does not bother me at all. If a person needs to believe and many do, the absence of proselytizing is welcome. They will of course be enthusiastic about sharing, but they can't really tell you how to believe in their God except have faith. Much easier to live with than Christ or Hell, take your pick. As the classic Jack Benny line goes 'I am still thinking about it'"

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tell Me of the God You Don't Believe In.

When You Say "God"... - Beliefnet:

"In the general sense, anything that is greater than, and superior to, an individual that an individual can commune with is not useful for me. I do not say it doesn't exist for a believer but I suspect it is an emergent property of a human mind after years of conditioning or, as the religious say, indoctrination.

I have yet to encounter an emergent God that I would wish to commune with, although there are many that I can learn from. I learn from the myths, stories, beliefs, rituals, and the related liturgy relating to them. Usually what not to do, and what is immoral that the gods try to justify: Genocide, misogyny, sexual sin, even misanthropy for at least one common God."

The concept of sexual sin is probably the most prevalent immorality in many religions. There is always something, usually nearly everything, that one can do with sexual parts that is sinful. These activities are all natural reward mechanisms for creating and preserving the pair bond. Shamans observe that pair bonding interferes with God bonding. So anything that improves the pair bond must be sinful. A properly pair bonded couple turns inward to the relationship first, and to the family and extended face group that they can effect and which effects them. Generally this extended face group will exclude God as they can never hope to be face to face with God.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vuvuzela Music?

WHY belief in gods? - Beliefnet:

"Ah, the wonder of the internet. You can find out more than you ever want to know about something that you don't want to know anything about in just a few minutes. Like how to make music on a vuvuzela. One of the most hilarious introductions to a serious topic that I have ever read.

Aug 15, 2010 -- 3:12PM, J'Carlin wrote in response to teilhard pointing out that a tinhorn in a fancy dress was hopelessly outdated:

'that little vuvuzela in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony?'

Saturday, August 14, 2010

On Truth

Hidden Secret? - Beliefnet :

"I am using human knowing in an individual absolute sense. For an individual something they know is true is in fact true for them. For you God exists is true. Whether God exists or not as a supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid or anything else the statement that God exists is true for you (I assume.)

What I interpret from sensory data is true for me. Whether the things I touch, see, hear, etc actually exist is of no importance. For me observations of the material world including other people and their truths whether expressed as fiction, myth or fact, as I interpret them are true. I could not function if they were false.

For either of us new data may indicate that a truth is in fact not so, and we must deal with that as we must. For me, if a Universalist God were shown to mediate a real afterlife, I would have to figure out how I must modify my life to reflect that new data. You can forget the God of Paul, Even if proved unmistakably, I would change nothing to spend eternity in Herm presence. That would in fact be Hell."

The ability to determine personal truth, appears to be an innate function just like language and morals. Certainly it is heavily conditioned by the circumstances of life, but the ability to sort out all of the conflicting data, weight it appropriately with social values, and come up with truth on a particular subject seems to be as human as speech. Truth is as idiosyncratic as an accent, like an accent it may be understood by someone with similar truth conditioning, and may even be accepted as truth by others. It appears that we are conditioned to accept truth from others who are effective communicators of their truth if and only if it doesn't stray too far from our previous conditioning. Shamans, novelists and other story tellers, artists in several genres. Indeed people tend to choose shamans, novelists, and artists that agree with their previous conditioning, as those folks speak the truth.

But stray too far out of your comfort zone, and extreme efforts are necessary to even begin to understand the truth being presented as for example a fundamentalist preacher of a tradition far from your own. For some it is not even worth the effort. There are large areas of fundamentalist Christianity and Muslim that I will waste no time trying to understand. They have no truth that is useful for me, even though they spell it TRUTH!

I have strayed out of my comfort zone to understand the truths of Catholicism, just because the Catholic God has the best music, and Reformation Protestants and Jews, just because they have so much influence in and over my life. I may take their truths with much salt, but I can appreciate how they work for believers, or should I say adherents to the faith. I am not implying there are not both, and probably a continuum between adherents and believers.