Saturday, January 30, 2010

What is the Calling of a Minister?

Active Christian Ministers who are also Atheists - Beliefnet
In respect to the ministers, they are teaching to have faith in God. They preach to come from a place of truth. They are not following their advice. I am not judging them, just an observation. I find it iteresting that the reasons in the video -financial, alienation, a built history are exactly the reasons that this philosophy would say they would continue to stay in this situation. My view is more New Agey , but there are similar Christian views that say essentially the same. Actually these reason from the video/this philosophy are common human conditions that call for much compassion.

J'C: "I wonder if ministers are called to have faith in God and preach from the truth, or if they are called to minister to those that call them using God and the truth as tools. When I was wondering whether I was called to the ministry, I had no God nor truth to sell, and I didn't have enough charlatan in me to expect to get rich. But I did think I could help people get past the difficult issues in their lives. (hence the arrogant preachyness. Ever hear of the boy scout who frog-marched the LoL across the street to get his merit badge.) I wondered if I could do it without God. My HS MMPI said I should be a circuit preacher. Fortunately, I had different wrong ideas for myself, and made my own mistakes not the shrink's.

I have the same wonder about the new age gurus. Are they really just trying to make a quick buck off the gullible, or are they really doing what they can to help those who have been failed by their Preachers. People send me new age stuff as if they are doing me a favor then wish me to repay it by reading the crap and discussing it with them.

I am sure some are happy with the bucks (as I am, I sold Deepak a BMW) but I find many of them a necessary bridge to a less faith based, and more self-reliant religion. And like it or not we all have a religion. We cannot live in society without one. We have to know why we are alive, why we try to stay that way, and why our friends should. It also helps to have a pretty good handle on death, others and our own."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Atheist Christian Ministers.

Active Christian Ministers who are also Atheists - Beliefnet

I think a brief way to understand this view is that in order to live a full and self-actualized life it is important to not allow your decisions to be made from a position of fear and limitation -to have 'faith' all will turn out well and you will handle any struggles that arise, even if this means giving up the safer road of shutting up.

J'C: "Spoken like a true convert. I don't say that disparagingly. It is an important first step. The next step as EI points out is holding your tongue not out of fear and limitation but out of compassion for the other in the conversation.

If you are secure enough in your thinking and beliefs, you should not need to wear them on your sleeve but allow them to give you the inner strength to reach out to others of different ways of thinking, even perhaps your old faith although that is the most difficult, on their terms without compromising your own beliefs. When a fundie expresses their dependence on God, if they are not proselytizing, but merely expressing their immersion in God thinking, I feel no need to correct their thinking, it affects mine not a whit. I can even say 'God bless you' and mean it without compromising my atheism. A very long time ago, a friend who was a devout Catholic, with whom I had had many spirited discussions about religion, had a major tragedy in his life. Without even thinking I told him I would pray for him. He looked surprised for just a moment and then said 'Thank you. God listens even more carefully to atheists.'

I can understand a Clergyperson, who once had a strong belief system who lost faith in God but not the major tenets of the belief system could in fact be an empathetic and effective spiritual leader in spite of herm different interpretation of the word 'God.'"

J'C: When I was considering the ministry, I was actually thinking about a "Real" religion, leaning toward Episcopal, rather than my atheistic Unitarian milk church. Jesuits would have been a consideration except for the celibacy issue. Had I gone down that path I probably would have copped out as a UU but I look at Bishop Spong and wonder...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My puzzle over "something larger than ourselves" - Beliefnet

To me, you're connected to society just by being born into it and growing up a part of it; what kind of society it is, is immaterial.

J'C: "It used to be that way. And still is in many places. One of the major changes in modern society is that the most intelligent leave their home society to attend the University. At the University they are forced to assemble a totally new society that may have little resemblance to the one they grew up in. There are of course some established social values but they may be quite different from home. And there is more choice. The geeks, the athletes, the social clubs, and they may overlap considerably for those so inclined. The social changes continue after graduation. People seldom go home again. Again the choices are limitless, but must be limited. But the key for many is they choose their society in which they wish to be connected. Liberating, but in most cases God stays home and can't help."

Yes this is certainly a change in which new connections are formed. Yet I somehow feel it is still superficial compared to deep connections that one could potentially feel. A loss of a loved one, deep love, profound beauty... tend to move me more.
Myownpath: followup

J'C: "The new connections are certainly not the only connections. Selected ones remain and are an integral part of the new society. As noted elsewhere the "J" in J'Carlin comes from a childhood nickname that I abandoned, lock stock and barrel, when I went away to school. And yet the people who call me J'Carlin because they can't won't think of me as Carlin are some of the most cherished people in my life. Many of them taught me of deep love, profound beauty, the love of the infinite universe. I can trace most of my most special moments to one or another person who uses J'Carlin or used to. At my age many are no longer physically able to reinforce them, but I can still live their moments in my living memory. Any time I want to I can hear my sister play the Rachmaninoff C#Minor Prelude. If I am angry, it is the violent version and once she gets to the second theme beautifully life is once again good.


My puzzle over "something larger than ourselves"- Beliefnet :
J'C: "As a minister once said 'Sometimes I just need to walk in the redwoods.' My avatar is a 100 meter ring of over a hundred redwood trees all of the same age. When I first came upon it many years ago it was a transcendent experience. I rounded the bend in the trail and stood stunned by the beauty, the symmetry, the sunlight playing on the trees. I knew about the way redwoods formed rings but this was not a dozen trees but a hundred. Then it occurred to me that the forest was logged 80 years ago, and the loggers found a gift of a third generation ring of 30 or so trees which they cut opening light for the hundreds of burl shoots around the outside of the ring. The fact that this redwood cathedral was man-made (sort of) nature helped a lot, in no way diminishes its wonder and beauty."

Where is the hope?

Where is the hope for the non-believer? - Beliefnet
But, I only believe in an undefined higher power some of the time, and I'm not really feeling it right now. Where do I find hope? How can I sit here and convince myself to not give up on her when I have no God to turn to?

J'C: "Thank you all for the round TUIT. I have been meaning to respond, as you are articulating an important issue for atheists. Where do you find hope? If there is no where for the cat to go if she has died, or grandma for that matter, how do you justify your love? I think Forrest Church's Love and Death is relevant here as I sense the issue is larger than your cat. Forrest is a Universalist deist and would, I think, have been comfortable with your undefined higher power. He was dying when he wrote the book and knew it. It is a short book, and I won't attempt to summarize it here, but it is an important book for all who have no God to turn to when death happens. Even to us."

As noted on other posts the issue of death and dying is the elephant in the atheist's living room. Until one comes to terms with the idea that this life is "All she wrote," I don't think one can really live without God. It was while I was studying the Et Expecto text that I finally realized No, I don't Expecto, that I also came to grips that this life was all I had to work with and I had damn well better do as much as humanly possible with it. Note that humanly possible has definite limits, and pushing those limits is part of being human. I will push them by loving and caring as much as I can until it is no longer possible. Then will "I lay me down with a will" and others will have to cherish my space. If I have loved enough they will find my space easy to make better.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Aesthetics and God.

Science and Beauty - Beliefnet

Science cannot verify this relationship nor can it explain the reason for the emotional response to beauty completely unnecessary for animal life.

J'C: "I am not sure what science you have been studying, but the human emotional response to beauty is not only well studied but the neurochemical reward mechanisms are well documented.

The appreciation of beauty in art and music among other things, patterns in clouds for example, begins at a very young age. One only has to watch the infant in the crib laughing as the rocking crib moves the hanging toys. It isn't until much later that the priest, shaman, or Sunday School teacher starts to impose God as the source of all that beauty. Yet another instance where God is a Johnny come lately, trying to make up for lost time. Morality, love, empathy, compassion and many others are all the property of children until God takes the candy from the baby and says "That is mine." If you are good I might let you have a taste."

J'C: This is probably my biggest beef with God. Kids do just fine in all social and aesthetic activities until someone needs to pound some God into them. Then their fine tuned morality they learned in kindergarten if they weren't corrupted before, is chopped up and parsed out by the God mediators and weird additions needed for sin are added. By the time they get to confirmation they are so screwed up that they don't know right from wrong and must pray to be saved from their sinfulness. Oh, yeah, throw a whole bunch of money in the plate so the mediator can help you find enough sins to keep the church in SUVs and Caddy's. But don't worry no hypocrisy there the mediator will be sinning right along with you.

Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World

Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "Members of the earth's earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth.
'I do not understand,' reads an ancient line of pictographs depicting the sun, the moon, water, and a Sumerian who appears to be scratching his head. 'A booming voice is saying, 'Let there be light,' but there is already light. It is saying, 'Let the earth bring forth grass,' but I am already standing on grass.'

'Everything is here already,' the pictograph continues. 'We do not need more stars.'
According to the cuneiform tablets, Sumerians found God's most puzzling act to be the creation from dust of the first two human beings.

'These two people made in his image do not know how to communicate, lack skills in both mathematics and farming, and have the intellectual capacity of an infant,' one Sumerian philosopher wrote. 'They must be the creation of a complete idiot.'"

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chosing One's Society

My puzzle over "something larger than ourselves" - Beliefnet

To me, you're connected to society just by being born into it and growing up a part of it; what kind of society it is, is immaterial.

J'C: "It used to be that way. And still is in many places. One of the major changes in modern society is that the most intelligent leave their home society to attend the University. At the University they are forced to assemble a totally new society that may have little resemblance to the one they grew up in. There are of course some established social values but they may be quite different from home. And there is more choice. The geeks, the athletes, the social clubs, and they may overlap considerably for those so inclined. The social changes continue after graduation. People seldom go home again. Again the choices are limitless, but must be limited. But the key for many is they choose their society in which they wish to be connected. Liberating, but in most cases God stays home and can't help."

J'C I wonder if this is simply evolution in action. Certainly the ones that choose their society and values as adults, have a real leg up on those that are stuck in their milk society. Some will of course make the wrong choices, but that is part of being human. But enough will make the right choices that a cosmopolitan, knowledge based society will become dominant.

The humanitarian in me cries for those that will be left by the wayside, and they won't all be third world, but I see no way to change the blind, pitiless workings of the evolutionary process. My hope is that the de facto leaders, they won't be politicians, will find a way to provide for those that cannot keep up. Perhaps we are seeing it now with meaning free entertainment and sterile social networking. But I wonder. Are the overweight people serving and eating at "MacFriendly's" and selling and shopping at WalMart inexorably weeding themselves out of the gene pool? Will God help them? If so how?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dinnertime rituals?

What's your dinnertime ritual?- Beliefnet
I personally have a desire to teach my daughter gratitude, but am not interested in typical God prayers. I think maybe reading a different poem each night might be nice, and a conversation starter... I dont know...

J'C: "A nice pre-dinner ritual I was recently introduced to is to go around the table and each person says 'Today, I thank ...' and 'Today, I learned...' Talk about conversation starters!"

I checked with Nick Manfred who introduced me to it. It turns out I missed part and added the thanks.

Someone starts. They describe the favorite part of their day and may talk about it as much as they want. Others may ask questions but can't take over the spotlight. The same someone then says something they learned during the day. Others may ask questions but can't take over the spotlight. Once the second part is exhausted, the someone can then "pass" to another person of their choice and that new person repeats the story telling.

It's simple and it seems to get kids talking about what was important for them in their day without the non-starter "What did you do today?" question. It also gets the adults to listen to what is important for the kids. It also allows adults to bring adult themes into the dinner conversation which kids can learn from. My friend Dave Chappel in Penyrn taught me this dinnner deal.

Just a wonderful ritual. Thanks Nick and Dave.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Value of Nonbelief.

What Does Atheism Have To Offer To You? - Beliefnet
Yes, I do doubt there's a benefit. Is there a benefit to a Jew who doubts Jesus? Is there a benefit to a Muslim who doubts Buddha? Doubting something in itself has no value, in my opinion. What can be valuable is a belief system, and I don't think atheism is a belief system - at least to me anyway.

The problem with belief systems is that the package the belief system comes in may contain a whole lot of dysfunctional crap along with the valuable stuff. It is certainly possible to weed out the dysfunctional crap, but I find it much more useful to find the valuable stuff and incorporate in my life. It is much easier to do without belief, as the valuable stuff is well highlighted typically.

The other value of nonbelief is that valuable stuff can be found in sources of wisdom that don't require belief. A good novel, a work of art, a piece of music, all can provide valuable stuff, no belief required. The value of atheism is that all of the traditional belief systems can be taken without any need to consider the God basis of the belief system. Without God the good is readily apparent and the crap easily disposed of."

If atheism offers anything, it's a clean slate for which to base rational values. But it's the values themselves that seem of use to me, not necessarily the lack of belief in something supernatural.
rgr075 (followup)

J'C: "The problem with supernatural beliefs is the rational values which are admittedly plentiful, are so distorted by God that the disbelief in God can be a useful touchstone in the sorting process. Religions have a lot of good things to say about dealing with death for example, but you have to get God on Herm Great White Throne or little porcelain throne completely out of the picture to discover them. Ironclad disbelief is really helpful in sorting all the threads in the tapestry into something useful. The disbelieving mind can make the God threads go away to reveal whatever is left.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Mass and reality.

Outward and Inward Man - Beliefnet
I can't speak for others, but religion is not about reciting the mass and feeling all warm and fuzzy in the arms of God for me. It's a journey, and a journey that sometimes takes us to the darkest parts of ourselves, where I can assure you it isn't all warm and fuzzy.

There is sacredness to life.

J'C: "I never implied differently. But those who have never 'Dragged the mass into the lab' probably have less appreciation for the either the warm fuzzies or the 'darkest parts of ourselves.' Especially the question of Death. I have (as an atheist, spent countless hours with the Et Expecto, and the Dies Irae of the requiem. I have tried to figure out what this meant to believers and by extension what it could mean to me. I do not believe in life after death, and yet the lab tells me that both of these sections are teaching a powerful lesson. Have you considered those lessons? The question is rhetorical. many have most have not. And yet the mass as a whole whether sung or chanted by a bored priest is a work of art that can be appreciated for itself without analysis or picking apart, but like a rainbow understanding the 'physics' of it adds to not subtracts from the wonder and beauty."

Art and Reality

Outward and Inward Man - Beliefnet Community
I suppose you think Mozart and Picasso should have been dragged 'back to the lab.'

J'C: "Neither Mozart nor Picasso loses anything at all by being dragged back to the lab. Indeed appreciating how both manipulate reality to create transcendent art only makes their genius, their art and the lessons they teach more meaningful and closer to what rings true. I suspect that I have a much better understanding of religion's meaning than those who have recited the mass all their lives feeling all warm and fuzzy in the arms of God, and never even trying to relate it to what is real in their lives or anybody else's."

A disciplined imagination.

Outward and Inward Man - Religion and the Human Mind - Beliefnet Community
A 'disciplined' imagination just doesn't seem very imaginative, or productive, to me. If your thoughts only go where you want them to go, I'll bet you VERY seldom experience a EUREKA! flash.

J'C: "You seem to be confusing discipline with control or repression. A disciplined imagination can go wherever it wants but knows the difference between imagination and reality. It can go to the farthest borders of fantasy, and can even suspend disbelief as needed, but the tether to reality stays in place and the fantasy is never confused with what is. This is not to say that one can not learn from fantasy, the eureka moments are common and useful. But finally they get pulled 'back to the lab' to be tested against what really is."

Imagination and reality.

Outward and Inward Man - Beliefnet
It doesn't mean that everything imagined will take you some place. A great deal of imagination is mental masturbation.

J'C: "That really depends on how disciplined your imagination is. Much of what people deal with in reality is reality masturbation.

Almost everything we deal with in the real world is abstraction. Give a person 10 bucks or worse, charge 10 bucks on a credit card, for a latte and you have exchanged an abstraction for a frothy concoction that you abstract as a latte. If it is a low fat decaf latte you have nothing but an abstraction. As Kurt Vonnegut pointed out 'There was a soft drink bottle on the windowsill. Its label boasted that it contained no nourishment whatsoever.'"

J'C: The beginning of a conversation. To be continued

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Can Injustice and violence be condoned?

Dawkins' Trashy Tract - Beliefnet
How long should injustice be tolerated? Should we condone or accept violence done to any human for any 'reason?' ...

J'C: "Injustice and violence cannot be tolerated. But frequently cannot be prevented. Nutjobs whether individuals or nations or political movements, will be nutjobs. Can you tolerate them? No. Can you do whatever you can to combat them in phone banks, internet movements, knocking on neighbor doors to gain support for opposing them. It is the only real choice you have short of grabbing an AK47 and becoming a nutjob."
Do you remeber Sidney Poitier's speech concerning racism and interracial marriage to his 'father' in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? [I paraphrase] 'It's going to take until your whole generation up and dies for the rest of us to be free of your prejudice.' I ask many generations of Theists and Atheists must continue to live at arms length for fear of stirring up the ancient hatreds and inciting a violent outburst?...

J'C: "I don't remember Sidney's speech, I read the book. But bringing a person of color, a gay couple, a muslim in a chador to your church or bowling league will do more than combating those ancient hatreds with words, or that AK47."
Both sides must change their attitudes for there to arise a chance of 'co-existence.' That can only occur person-to-person, one pair at a time, outside the institutional doors that lock us into and out of human communion. Beliefnet Forums are not the answer, either; these Boards are all too often 'playpens for the bored.'

J'C: "Don't tell it to me. Tell it to the Shiites and the Sunnis. Tell it to the Israelis and the Palestinians. But it is no accident that China is blocking Google at the cost of its internet. And don't underestimate the power of the chat rooms and the blogs, even beliefnet. Just in the time I have been here I have seen several fundamentalist nutjobs become before our eyes more reasonable and better people. I know of several more who never posted even once. Yes we are in playpens, but as you and Fulghum know the playpen is where we learn to live."

Dawkins - Literary prize winner or bigot or both.

Dawkins' Trashy Tract - Beliefnet
You've done a mostly decent job of trashing the man's book, but what of the author, himself?

J'C: "I have 5 books by Dr. Dawkins on my shelf which I think are excellent interpretations of evolutionary science for the reader of average or higher intelligence. I bought The God Delusion without reading reviews based on the rest of his books. As an evolutionary scientist and popularizer of his field I think he is exemplary. As an atheist I think he is a bigot. As a responsible person I feel a necessity to combat bigotry from whatever corner it comes from. As a responsible atheist I resent the fact that his bigotry is giving ordinarily responsible theists a hobby horse to ride roughshod over atheism and atheists.

Just as I hold responsible Christians accountable for speaking out against the bigotry of the Pat Robertsons and Fred Phelps of the Christian world. I think that responsible atheists are on the front line for combating atheist fundamentalism and bigotry. We are a small and politically marginal minority, and have to work intelligently under the radar to achieve the changes that are necessary. Strident hate, bigotry, and mindless fundamentalism does great damage to the cause of rationality and humanistic values in todays polarized world. Someone must pay attention."

As I noted on the eSKEPTIC blog promoting Dawkins for the Noble Prize
Polemics are not literature. If Dawkins could somehow get the brain fart of “The God Delusion” out of his bibliography he might have a chance. Unfortunately it is stinking up his name if not the excellent work he has done in explaining a difficult science to a skeptical world.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Transcendence = Mama's Smile.

Science vs. Faith - Beliefnet
How does one know when they have 'experienced' the transcendent?

J'C: "Supernatural transcendence or natural transcendence is experienced by a feeling of truth or rightness, which cannot be justified rationally in any way. It might be a work of art that the only possible comment is 'Wow' or whatever one uses for the religious expression 'Oh My God.' My opinion is that this is a natural function of the brain and the attribution to a supernatural entity is a conditioned response. In other words I can't explain it therefore Goddidit.

I am quite comfortable with the thought that I can't explain it, therefore a resonance in the entire brain, conscious and unconscious is responsible. It may be that in the deep recesses of my brain a similar thing was associated with mama's smile, and therefore it was beautiful and true. Mama is no longer available to ask, but given the right incentive and time, I could probably trace any transcendent experience to the one that triggered that smile. Probably for a theist God triggered that smile."

J'C: I suspect that this is the reason childhood religious conditioning is so hard to shake. In a religious household God and mama's smile were so frequently associated that one became the other. If the baby does something right mama smiles and says "God bless you." Or even worse baby does something wrong and mama frowns and says "Sin." When I think of how hard some early conditioning was to break, see Too Big for a Fork? That was a transcendent experience of "wrong."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Defining Atheism and Transcendence

Identifying The One True Religion Beliefnet
How do you define Atheist?

The definition of atheist I use is 'Without God.' This is a literal translation of the conventional use of 'a-.' I do not quibble at all about the reasons for being without God in one's life. As long as morality, meaning, purpose, spirituality, and even transcendence* are not attributed to God but considered natural human responses one is an atheist. Whether God exists or not is a belief not an argument, and I don't do belief or faith. Many atheists do indulge in both, but as long as God is not one of their indulgences I have no problem with them calling themselves atheists.

*'Transcendence' is a concept I refuse to cede to supernaturalists. For me it means true or beautiful but unverifiable by natural reasoning or cognition. It is the 'Aha' moment in science when the scientist knows hesh has the answer to an insurmountable (by reason) problem. It is a natural function of the human mind, or brain if you prefer but the insight was not achieved by the usual rational cognitive processes. No dualism, Blü, the mind is purely human, but complex beyond human understanding. Since the human mind created God in a transcendent error, it is even to complex for God to understand."

Note minor corrections 1/12

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Religion as a Bridge to Hell

Nick A:
This is it in a nutshell. The essence of religion which leads to man becoming Man is diminished, secularized, and becomes a tool of ego concerns telling people what to do. The trouble is the human condition where the teachings of Jesus can degenerate into the spanish Inquisition. What is Man and why does this happen. It doesn't make sense but it is what happens. The logical question is what is man's nature to explain it?

People always argue about what to do or if god exists but the reality that holds us in this madness is the human condition. Arguing just perpetuates the human condition. I believe that Christians, atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, etc could come to agree that the real problem within ourselves and in the world today is the human condition that denies the conscious perspective necessary for us to become truly human.
The more we come to know the human condition within ourselves the more atheism and religion become related much like science and the essence of religion. I say "essence of religion" to distinguish it from religious perversion.
What knowledge from your perceptions in your opinion is responsible for your perspective? For example I must be wary of you because you are guided completely by the knowledge of perceptions and logic.
Unfortunately there is no logical reason for you not to kill me or anyone else that could serve as an annoyance. It makes perfect sense to eliminate what is undesirable providing that you don't get caught.
The only reason you wouldn't kill me is from the fear of getting caught or some societal conditioned morality which is not logical so should be ignored.
So I guess your philosophy should be to kill first if in the clear and ask questions later. It is the logical thing to do when tormented by a nuisance. am I right?
Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.
As we are we are just performing mechanical necessities in response to universal laws. Organic life on earth including Man is just performing a mechanical necessity in its life cycles. However we have the potential to serve a conscious purpose beyond our normal reactive mechanical purpose which is uniquely human. We have the potential for conscious ACTION along with our natural inclination towards blind REACTION
The human condition is that we are hypocrites, We are both capable of compassion and atrocity depending upon which way the wind is blowing.
Evil doesn't refer to societal actions but rather what we ARE in relation to human conscious potential: inner unity.
It is the same concept as in Christianity. We avoid sincere discussion of the "human condition" but without being open to its experience, what understanding can we possibly have to build a realistic foundation leading towards ontological understanding?
Regardless of God, we are what we are. Once we admit it then the question of morality can be put into a more realistic light rather than fighting over whether atheism or theism is more moral.
Since we are as we ARE, everything is as it is. How then can either science or religion affect what we ARE to become more naturally human rather than arguing over respective idolatries?

J'C: The above is one person's apologetic for the need for God to keep humans from being "As we ARE." Unfortunately this is a common apologetic that religions use to keep believers in abject fear of their fellow humans, which of course leads to hate and bigotry.
We are the world's sweet chosen few.
The rest of you be damned.
There's room enough in Hell for you;
We won't have Heaven crammed.

This is a necessary result of the sinfulness of all people, believers or not. Believers of course can achieve salvation by the proper rituals, even for acting out "As we ARE." But beware of the non-believers they are dangerous and evil as they might entice a believer to Hell. Of course they might do all sorts of other things to keep the believer cowering in church praying frantically to "Lead us not into temptation." "We are as we ARE" and temptation is a constant companion and danger.

The hooker and it is huge and sharp is that this belief that "We are as we ARE" is universal creates a living Hell on earth that all the pie in the sky after we die even if it existed cannot compensate for.

I do not choose to live this way. I choose to observe that almost all people including religious assholes, are basically compassionate, socially desirable neighbors. The exceptions quickly reveal themselves and can be dealt with as the exceptions they are.
Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.
Robert A. Heinlein

[Edit] To leave on a lighter note paraphrasing the late Forrest Church "This is the day [and the neighbors] we are given. Rejoice and be glad in [them!]"

Monday, January 4, 2010

Intelligent Responses to Stimuli

Nick A:
The question then becomes if Man is capable of more than just blind reaction and its expressions of associative thought? Simone and much of esoteric thought says we are. As we are we are just performing mechanical necessities in response to universal laws.

J'C: Your last statement is just flat wrong. Once a stimulus is presented to the mind it is evaluated and integrated into the complex reality of the self, and the response is conditioned not only by the needs of the self but the evaluation of the situation presented. There are internal stimuli from the more primitive parts of the brain, but the mind is capable of overriding even basic instinctive responses. We might sweat a bit but neither fight or flee.

This intelligent reaction to all stimuli is the birthright of all humans, and most higher animals. There is no esoteric input needed from God or Guru, unless of course the individual is conditioned like a dog to obey the smarter and more powerful Alpha. This conditioning is common and perhaps instinctual as a transferal of parental obedience to others as the child matures, but it is subject to manipulation by the mind as are all instinctual responses. If, as the Jesuits claim, a child is conditioned to transfer this parental obedience by the time hesh is 10 it is fixed for life. Not strictly true, but the loss of the parental surrogate is traumatic. Simone had to reject religion entirely and become an atheist before she could transfer the surrogacy to God. Others may stop at nihilism when God dies, others may proceed to a rational atheism. Some may attempt to find a more esoteric path to the Alpha. A few never get the conditioning in the first place and take their place in their society as a rational purposeful, moral contributor. No external controls are necessary as the internal controls are built in which are, as Fulghum via Exploringinside showed us elsewhere, learned and reinforced in kindergarten. God plays in the same sandbox which is why Herm rules are generally similar except for the Alpha dominance rules.

Compassion and atrocity

Nick A:
We create programming. It explains why we can be simultaneously capable of compassion and atrocity.

J'C: Humans as social animals are incapable of atrocity without some higher level programming to cause them to counter their social imperative to respect other humans. Normally this higher programming comes from God, but insanity, nation, or even a charismatic leader can program people to go against their social values and commit atrocities.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Wolf in the Parlor

Facebook | Home: "I just finished The Wolf in the Parlor by Jon Franklin. Ostensibly about people and dogs. He does that well with a radical theory about the relationship. But it is really an autobiography of a science journalist with Pulitzers and how he thinks.

Science these days is really the study of trees or maybe even the branches or leaves. Thanks to the journalists like Jon for exploring the forest. Highly recommended."

His radical theory is that humans and dogs are a natural symbiote that enabled both to survive the early Holocene megafauna extinction at the end of the last ice age. The humans supplied the intelligent control mechanisms and the dogs the basic emotional instincts. His speculation, even he does not call it a theory, is the symbiosis atrophied the cerebrum of the dogs, as humans did the thinking better, and atrophied the emotional centers in the humans, as humans allowed the dogs to distinguish friend from foe, provide the alerts for things that go bump in the night so the humans can deal with them, among other important emotionally based activities. He speculates that this is the cause of a 20% loss of brain mass in dogs, they no longer needed to know how to hunt, think or control their emotions, humans were much better at that, and the cause of 10% loss of brain mass in humans, as dogs were better at handling the emotional pack management issues.

An amusing hint at the end of the book: Zoloft or a dog, take your pick.