Sunday, February 28, 2010

Christianity and the Arts

If Man is the Measure- Beliefnet

F1fan: and to my mind it IS the arts that has allowed religion to flourish and hold some significance to many cultures. I have my music favorites as well and am often so moved that I think it amazing that humans are capable of creating such beauty.

Myownpath: This is an excellent point. What if religions did not have grand architecture, paintings, music, ceremony, art objects,

Steven Guy: Well, the Christian churches in Europe bankrolled the arts there for many centuries and offered secure employment to artists, composers, singers, musicians, architects, builders, sculptors, writers and poets when patronage by the aristocracy was the only alternative, if it was an alternative at all.

Myownpath: etc. would the sermons (words of damnation) have moved them so emotionally to stay with their religion?

Steven Guy: In theatre one talks of 'bums on seats' and Christianity has worked harder than most religions to achieve that aim by appealing to the eye, the ear and the mind via Arts employed to keep the punters coming back.

Myownpath: Maybe everyone should send their tithes to art organizations since this seems to be the true inspiration.

Steven Guy: Sadly, for Christianity, the Arts seem to have largely abandoned Christianity since the 20th century. Messiaen and Poulenc probably wrote the last really decent Christian sacred music, although Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, John Tavener, Arvo Pärt and Sofia Gubaidulina have written some passable 'Christian' music, from time to time.

Or as is probably a better take: Christianity has abandoned the arts. I think to the detriment of Christianity. Even the Mormons have gone to religious arrangements of DWM art. Some of the multimedia crap in the megas might be considered art, but it generally is generic hack.

Or maybe God has decided that Christianity has failed and has turned to Pixar, Lucasfilms, etc. to sponsor the arts, and create new myths. Most of the best music these days are movie scores.

Self is brain function

If Man is the Measure- Beliefnet

Here's the deal. Do you believe in freedom, or not? Is self merely an epiphenomenon? Is self merely a result of brain function?

If it is, then, is there or is there not such a thing as a (personal) feed-back loop? In concert, what about what we have discovered about brain plasticity? In concert, what is the placebo effect?

Can self 'operate' on itself? ..........Or is this an illusion?

"Self is brain function. It certainly can and does operate on itself. The self like any other brain process generates stimuli for other areas of the brain, including the more primitive areas of the cerebellum and brain stem. These areas send back other stimuli that may be interpreted by the self as relevant to activities it may be contemplating.

The placebo effect is simply the cognitive areas of the brain providing stimuli to the control centers of the brain that certain actions are appropriate, an increase in body temperature, a nap that might be otherwise ignored etc.

In order to survive before the advent of medicine the human needed considerable control over the autonomous nervous system. We still have it. A very intelligent family practitioner I know well, commented on some odd medicine that worked for me, 'If you believe in your doctor, everything she tells you to do works.' As a result of that advice, the only thing I believe in is my doctor. Which by the way was a chosen belief."

Human Cognition

Human Cognition: Can Materialism explain it?- Beliefnet

That is exactly what we see; therefore, until this changes, materialism has been vindicated thus far as the ontology which most accurately describes our universe.

As long as you are willing to stipulate that materialism does very poorly in describing a probably insignificant blip in the universe called human cognition. At this point all materialism can say about cognition is that somehow neurochemicals and electrical impulses in neurons create or possibly detect cognition. I readily admit my cognitive bias that cognition is created in the mind/brain, but materialism must by definition be agnostic.

In particular I would like the materialists to explain how a top level string quartet manages the rubato, retards, fermatas, and other musical effects to produce a performance that can make a listener cry, or in one case of a Quatuor pour la fin du temps, sob uncontrollably. Or how a listener can control the attacks of a professional Rock band. All of which I have personally observed.

Or explain

With a dramatic bow of pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii’s head, rich sounds of the piano, violins, cello and viola broke the concert hall silence as he and a string quartet played Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44.

The standing ovation lasted nearly five minutes, so long that the 20-year-old from Japan returned to the stage twice to bow, grinning from ear to ear.

The audience may have loved Friday’s performance, but not everyone may have known its significance. Tsujii—who was born blind—had to figure out how to cue the other musicians. That was especially important with the Schumann piece, because all instruments must start playing simultaneously in the first movement.
Japan Today

Yeah, sure. The quartet all mentally counted the 3472 microseconds from when his blind eyes crossed the horizontal and they all came in on the 3473rd. There was something else going on here. The leader, in this case Tsujii caused the syncing of the brain waves of the quintet so they could all attack at the same instant. A trained human ear can hear at least millisecond differences in the attack of stringed instruments. With a good ensemble it never does.

As a high level ensemble singer I know who is syncing the brain waves, the conductor, and when hesh loses concentration, the performance falls apart. I remember one performance of the Faure Requiem where the conductor was somewhere in never-never-land. He was waving the stick OK but the entrances especially on the Kyrie were painfully out of sync.

It is my theory, I have no experience to back this up, is that the leadership in a small ensemble like a string quartet, passes smoothly from one performer to another, perhaps on the importance of the part at that point, and they all follow that lead.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Why a Legacy?

Why answer these questions - Beliefnet

Why do you find a need to build some sort of legacy? I certainly do not.

"Fine. Stumble your way through life, doing whatever is necessary to achieve the promised fulfillment on death.

I have a definitely limited time to accomplish the things that I have chosen to accept as my duty to my genetic and spiritual ancestors who left the legacy I am building on; to my family, friends and my chosen society who are helping me shape that legacy; and to those who will carry on after I have done all I can. You will notice that my duty is to real people alive, dead, and yet to be born. No imaginary entities in the lot. This is the way I choose to live my life.

I have no need for advice from those who choose differently. I sincerely hope their pie in the sky after they die does not turn out to be rhubarb with no sugar."

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cold and Dark?

Life after death: a thought experiment - Beliefnet

And that 10,000 Million Year-old Light continues to propagate and effect even AFTER its Original Generator has gone Dark and Cold ...

"As will some of the things I generate continue to propagate and effect even after I have gone cold and dark. Some will be mine. Some will be those of people long since gone cold and dark.

Right now I am thinking of my great grandmother whose children's songs that I have made my own and pass on in my turn have delighted countless people. One of them probably has delighted you, not through my efforts, but by a child in her preschool who took one of her songs to the Yale Whiffenpoofs. They changed the bridge, but the poor little lambs that stray were probably hers."

I have no interest in even thinking about what will happen to my soul when I am cold and dark. I doubt that anything will happen to it, but in the 1 in 10 billion chance that the light will hit some photoreceptor after it has gone out, it will be evaluated by what I did with that soul while I was alive. I intend to insure that my soul shines as brightly as I can drive it in this life. Some of us may make it to supernova, but even the random blip in the APOD deep field is important at least to the texture of the overall scene. It works for me

Life after death.

Life after death: - Beliefnet

huh ... So ... the Light from that Star 10,000 Million Light Years distant is from a Star STILL THERE ... ??? Shining ... ??? ... huh ...

"10 billion years is beyond expectation for the life of any star. By now it is recycled into dust clouds or perhaps a new star. However, the light we see is a small instant in the life of the star, a few photons collected on a photocell or film. Yet that dead star affected us. It taught us a little more about the early universe. (Or at least taught those able to understand.) Was it necessary for that star to have eternal life to teach us something?

If in some small instant in our lives we make a difference in some other person's 'photocell' do we need eternal life to prove it? You may worry about God's eternal 'photocell' but I don't. I will worry about those around me and make as much difference as I can to make their lives better. That is all I need. I don't need to brag about it forever."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life after death?

Problem with Pascal's wager - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community

We RESENT The Facts of Mortality, Contingency, Suffering, and Death ... So we BLAME 'God' or 'diss' Existence Itself as 'shit' ...

Some of you may do either. The most common is to blame God, or diss the human condition as shit. Both of which are religious concepts. Others have come to terms with the fact that life is finite and while there are unpredictable intervals of suffering we realize that this life is all there is, and we had best work through the suffering and contingencies to make what we can of it before our inevitable death. We try to live so that our legacy at death will be something that those following us can build on and enjoy. I don't resent the challenges of building a life worth dying for, and I don't waste a bit of life worrying about what might happen after. Particularly as nothing at all that I can change in this life will make any difference afterward. Re. Pascal's wager: If there is, paraphrasing Grantland Rice, One Great Scorer that makes Herm mark against your name, Hesh marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game."

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mary Daly changed my life : mary daly changed my life

Leaning against the opening to the living room, I called out, teasing, to the guy holding the remote, “There’s the man, in control of the whole world.” I’ll never forget the look on his face as he turned toward me. It was open, puzzled, bewildered, and a little sad. It was clear that he didn’t feel in control of much.

As a couples counselor for many years, I heard countless women say they felt controlled by their partners. Countless men told me they felt controlled by their partners. As more same-sex couples came to me, many of them felt controlled by their partner. “If everyone is feeling controlled,” I thought, “who is doing all the controlling?” Maybe the culture controls everybody who doesn’t struggle to wake up. Maybe it’s patriarchy, maybe it’s the archetypes. Maybe it’s what people name the devil. My anger dissipated. The culprit had become more complicated.
Meg Barnhouse.

I almost pasted the whole article and recommend it highly. But the above caused me "grievously to think."

Are not the men impacted just as much as the women by the prevailing misogyny of the dominant Abrahamic religions? Are not the Islamic men who are conditioned to believe that all men including themselves are such slaves to their libido that merely the glimpse of a woman's flesh would cause an uncontrollable urge to rape just as controlled by the burkha as the women? Are the Catholic men who are conditioned to believe that any family planning that would free them as well as their wives from the tyranny of producing endless Catholics just as controlled by their church as their wives?

It seems to me that the only way out is to treat people as people. Not male people or female people, but people. This would relegate sex to an enjoyable recreation with the usual provisions for STD and pregnancy protection and certainly the expectation of consent on both sides. Two people, no longer driven by libido might decide to take the next step in real living and join to provide a home for a next generation. The only involvement by the state or religion would be to issue a procreation license or perform a parenting ceremony, which would establish stringent obligations on the partners to provide financially and emotionally for the anticipated children.

Certainly a dream world for the population in general, but I see a small segment of the society where this is working well right now. "I'm learning Chinese, says Wernher von Braun." It is no accident that these are the people that are driving the intellectual capital of the world. And it is the intellectual capital that will make it possible to provide for masses that are stuck in the misogynistic religious paradigm.

Yeesh... you'd think a little more social conditioning and self-control would be expected from the Muslim male, but no.. it's all the fault of a woman.

No. It is the fault of the religion. The males are as imprisoned by the burkha as the women. The men cannot access the wisdom of half their population without some woman's protector threatening to kill him. He cannot choose the mother of his children on any basis but what he can pay the father. He can know nothing about her except what the father tells him and the father is trying to increase the value of the product, so can be trusted to lie like a used car salesperson to make the sale.

If your choice of a mate as a male or female is unrestricted to a small group of religiously approved mates, think of the choice you have for the other half of your children's genes. True it is a reciprocal choice, but is this bad? Both have to impress the other as having desirable genes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Cosmopolitan Communities.

The Basis of Human Morality - Beliefnet

We live and move and have our being not only as individuals but in community. [edited for readability]

J'C: "Historically our community has been imposed on us typically by religions, and more recently by other social units like universities, companies, and civic clubs. Perhaps a major change in "Community" is that the world is so large and interconnected that the "Community" is no longer defined by institutions, but by ad-hoc associations of like minded people, who may for instance be members of a church, a company, on the board of an arts organization, participate in alumni activities from their University and of course on the internet. These associations may be international in scope, but the important thing is the cosmopolitan nature of the association. People are not defined by where they live, go to church, work, recreate, but what they contribute to the association. I see this as a fundamental change in human social organization, and a hopeful one. It is hard to work up a good hate if there is no group to hate."

This may in fact be the direction of evolution for humans. Couples are breeding later in life after establishing themselves in the various groups that define their "community." Modern medicine has pushed back the female biological clock to the point that age is no longer a consideration for contributing to the gene pool. It is still common for couples to form in a university, but normally the other associations are established and the larger "community" they will be a part of is clear. But the pressure for the MRS degree in the university is off, and men and women feel confident that once established in their "community" the appropriate mate will come along to do their part for replacement fecundity. Note, the child(ren)are never accidents, and are assured of a supportive home to grow from.

I see a ring speciation going on here. The traditional communities will continue the present breeding pattern of a few kids in late teens or early 20s divorce at 25 and mom struggles to give the kids a good life. Enough dads will stick around to keep the community together, but the centrifugal force of the single mom driving her kids to succeed any way they can, sports or academics usually, seems to me to be fatal to the traditional community. Certainly they will never be comfortable with the cosmopolitan communities, and interbreeding will be rare.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Misogyny or Mammalian - Cont.

Misogyny - Beliefnet

So please revise your view that misogyny wasn't relevant until 110 years ago.

Women died because of its relevance to all women across time.

"I don't argue that feminism did not exist prior to 20th cen. In fact there is good speculation that the Yahwist was a woman in the court of Rheoboam. There were many women in history who made a big difference, but notice most were not moms. Control of fecundity is necessary for feminism.

As noted in the beginning of the post women died frequently from childbirth complications throughout history, not from misogyny but from the nature of mammalian reproduction and not incidentally the Godawful design (if God did design humans) of the female pelvis for the huge head of a human baby. Not to mention the Godawful design of a human infant to be totally dependent on herm mother for the first two years of herm life. Not just for food but for everything else including transportation and socialization. The human species would never have survived had this biological fact been largely practiced. Not misogyny just reality.

The only place misogyny was important was in churches which were the natural venue for women to gather. And for the most part they could basically ignore it, if they shut up among men. They never did on their side of the church. Not hard as religion was basically about war and hate. Not too useful for moms."

Misogyny or Mammalian

Misogyny - Beliefnet:

"The other consideration is that until the beginning of the 20th century infant and maternal mortality made it necessary for women to have a baby a year until she died in childbirth, and spend the rest of her time caring for and socializing the surviving children. If she was lucky the oldest daughter could take over when she died. This didn't leave much time for the important male stuff of killing one another and to a lesser extent, maintaining the food animals. Agriculture and clothing was women's work since they could do it while pregnant and the older children could help as part of the socialization. When the men were not busy killing each other, they created Gods to help the women grow the crops and children, and keep the men from intra-tribal warfare.

It could be argued that misogyny was really not relevant until the 20th century, when women got control over their reproduction system, and could participate in activities outside the home. Since they are smarter and more socially adept than the testosterone poisoned men, men have to figure out a way to maintain their 'privileged' position. It will be interesting to find out how long God will be able to help the men."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Are you saved or accountable?

“There’s probably no God.- Beliefnet

People have not realized that when it appears as if they are getting away with atrocities because they have not been caught by other people, they are actually not getting away freely. They need to know this. We all need to know this. All of us will inescapably answer to God who sees everything and has the right and power to deliver commensurate justice.

"Most people do not commit atrocities not because they are accountable to some probably non-existent god after they die, but they are accountable to their friends and family and ultimately to their own conscience and self image in the here and now. As Nixon so famously said 'I am not a crook.' He was not pleading with God, or even the people of the US, he was trying to justify his behavior to himself.

By the way, are you "saved?" If you are you can get away with any atrocity you want to, because as a sinner you can do no other. Christ will save you. I am not saved so I have to be very careful. Not only am I accountable to my family, friends, and myself, but in the unlikely event that something happens after death I will be accountable not for what I believed but how I lived. A just God can do no other."

I am always amused by despicable sinners who have their Christ to save them no matter what telling me that if I don't buy Christ I will become a hellion just like they are, but will have to pay later. Much later in eternity. Whoop de do. If only they could see the hell they are creating for themselves now.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Worship or Beauty - Take your pick

The harmful aspects of religion - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community
You do not believe in god. Fine. What do you replace that 'worship' with and how does it drive your imagination? Or not. Maybe you replace the god belief with nothing.
We can measure our imagination effectors at the end of the day. We can report how we spent our Sundays. OK?

J'C: "I resemble that remark! (Thanks Garfield) As I never indulged in God worship, I feel no need to replace it with anything. In fact I think worship is a perversion of a natural human tendency to appreciate beauty, wherever it can be found. Whether it is natural, man made, man enhanced as APOD one stops everything, thinking, moving, worrying, believing, and just enjoys the moment however long that moment is. One such moment was nearly an hour long when I first heard Uchida play Beethoven's Third. There have been others.

Maybe a theist can get into that moment when the pastor says lets all butcher this hymn of praise to God. But I will take the real thing. It probably won't necessarily be Sunday morning except possibly early when I pull the days APOD first thing on Sunday just like every other day. But if I visit a friend like Abner1 with original art on the walls I might have several such moments.

More frequently for me it will be music, as that is my genre. I have been known to pull over on a freeway to listen. Once a friend said we can't stop now. I said OK you drive. I will listen to the Pie Jesu without you. I try to fit as many of these moments into my day as possible. They cannot be forced however, but I am always open to them. The best thing is for many of them there is no plate. Like Abner I have commissioned art, and happily pay for live performances that may have potential. But if you keep your eyes and ears open they happen frequently, payment optional."

One of the best things about NYC was that some of the best artists were in the parks. I always tried to throw something in the instrument case if I could but it was almost impossible to walk in a park on a sunny weekend day without several opportunities. There is something about a live performance that connects people in away that cannot be duplicated.

Carbon as God.

Circumstantial evidence for God - Beliefnet

I don't believe that the order, complexity and information content of even a single-celled bacterium, let alone you and me, is the result of chance, no matter how long it might have taken (and that turns out to be a very narrow window anyway, some 130 million years).

J'C: "22,000,000 to 1 Odds happen every week in the various lottos. The structure of the carbon atom guarantees that every weird chemical structure in the liquid water world will be generated frequently. (You might have a better argument that God created Carbon. In Herm own image by the way, ever changing, impossible to pin down in anything from a buckytube to a diamond to a human.) That one of those weird chemical structures found a way to hide in a lipid balloon and make copies of itself seems to me inevitable and indeed seems to have happened several times a few billion years ago. That one of them, DNA, was so stable that it ate everything else in sight is the way evolution works.

It isn't really chance, carbon's theory as well as evolution's is try everything. Most of it won't work but who cares.
To try and fail, is at least to learn, To fail to try is to suffer the inestimable loss of what might have been.
Chester Bernard

Please excuse the anthropomorphizing of carbon and evolution. They don't care but it makes a better story."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Ridge Runner - The Game.

At one point I had a very nice car that handled like a dream and for its day was very fast. I would occasionally drive from Charlotte NC to NYC and for some reason always ended up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A beautiful WPA project to bring happiness to fast drivers. The first time I drove it I was lucky and saw the cops. The next time I decided I needed to build responsibility into my fun, and so added some rules. Pedestrians, animals, and bicycles had to be passed at 25mph. Parked cars at the speed limit, pass at no more than 10 over. Other than that, time from one end to the other was the score. Oops. If I screwed up I needed to subtract 30 minutes from the time at the next ranger station for the safety lecture. It really did improve my driving skills, as I had to consider sight lines, and braking distance in everything I was doing.

ONG was that a nice car! '76 Celica.

Living as Driving

A Horse of a Different Color - Beliefnet
Try to think of your life as if you are driving a car....any glances in the rear view mirror should be very brief and not prolonged or you might miss something in front of you that could cause an accident...try to look forward out of the windshield as much as you can.

J'C: "I used to drive time/distance rallies and found the experience useful in life. Of course you have to know where you are going and be aware of any impediments that might get in the way, the rear view mirror was just for potential issues, but generally if you are going to be successful you must be totally involved in the now of driving. How fast am I going, how fast should I be going. How do I prepare for the curve ahead, and how am I and the car performing? Are we ready for anything the road might throw at us?. The past is behind us but if we screwed up on one of the turns we have to figure out what to do about it. We can't go back and do it over, we have to fix it now. I say we advisedly, back then the navigator was an integral part of the team, and could make suggestions and help of course but I had to drive the car.

I still drive cars that way. 100% in the now of driving. I try to live that way as well. I know where I am going, I know where I have been, but the important thing is how do I get from where I have been to where I want to go? There are a lot of "we's" to help but I am responsible for me [and to a lesser extent all of the we's]. That means pay attention to now."

I have been thinking a lot recently about that responsibility for the other "We's." I know where it begins. It begins with those closest to me, and extends at least to the monkeysphere. Probably also to those anonymous readers of this blog and the letters I write to newspapers etc, It certainly extends to the audiences I perform for. But does it extend to the bigots who are trying to change my laws, or only those who will be affected by those laws. Am I responsible for the Shiites and the Sunnis, or should I be content to let them bomb themselves out of existence with perhaps a little help from the Israelis

Or Haiti? Or New Orleans. If they do not have the resources through their own mismanagement/misgovernment to rebuild or even succor the injured do I have any responsibility to help? I'm thinking the answer is no. Humans are evolving, and in evolution the winners don't help the losers. They are too busy helping themselves. I have limited resources, and even if I didn't, the buck at Radio Shack for Haiti will be used for much more worthwhile causes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Accountable to Everything

Individual or Collective Accountability - Beliefnet

The notion is this, or at least this is my interpretation of it. Consider your dependence on the community around you. Include your parents and their parents. Include other human beings ... not just immediate acquaintances, but those who provide services, grow food, print Bibles, whatever. Include all the organisms essential for making sure you have oxygen, clean water, agricultural products, building materials, and so on. Okay ... you are not an independent being. You are an extension of all that came before you, all that surrounds you, and all that will follow you. So, basically, if you harm anyone or anything, you harm yourself. This is where morality and ethics come from. Murder someone, you are murdering yourself. Steal from someone, you steal from yourself. Pollute the water, you are polluting yourself. Cut down a healthy tree for frivolous reasons, you cut down yourself for frivolous reasons. I think you get the picture. Morality and ethics—the sort the vast majority of people agree are 'good' practices—emerge from recognition that we are all interdependent ... all as in not only humans, but all living organisms. And it does not require a god, God, or anything beyond the observable natural world. In a nutshell, WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO OURSELVES, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE EVERYTHING.

Relevant to Belonging to Life

Jamel Oeser-Sweat

Jamel Oeser-Sweat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "As a youth, Oeser-Sweat’s family was homeless. After spending two years fighting homelessness and living in welfare hotels and shelters, Oeser-Sweat’s family moved into public housing.... However, despite an upbringing filled with homelessness, poverty and challenges, he has managed to evolve into one of his generation’s rising young stars."

It was at one of the worst of the welfare hotels that All Souls Unitarian Church found Jamel as a core participant in a Boy Scout troop created from residents of that hotel. He was one of the quiet leaders of the troop and his drive to take advantage of his opportunities was apparent to all of us involved in the project. I would like to think that we provided some of the social stability that allowed him to launch himself into what he is now. Watching him grow was one of the rewards of all the work we put into the troop. I lost track of him when I left New York, and recently remembered enough of his last name to succeed with a Google. As I noted on his Facebook: Wow! and Congratulations.

Absolutely relevant I just stole it from his facebook profile:
If you are not a King or a Queen...Act like one...that way..when you become a King or a Queen, you know how to act. Nothing magical will happen to show you the way..You must work to evolve yourself, one habit and trait at a time..
-Jamel Oeser-Sweat

Belonging to Life

Please tell me what 'belonging to life' means to you as it means nothing to me, so far.

“Love is not everything but we are less than nothing without Love.”

I think for me the realization of what 'belonging to life' meant was during the birth of my first child. I had no idea what I was in for the moment labor began. I had prepared for natural child birth, knew what physically was expected, but nothing prepared me for the 'force' that took over my body and mind. It was the most POWERFUL force I have ever experienced! It is LIFE that births us and it is LIFE that ages us and eventually takes our breath away. IMHO, it is life that owns us.
Wendyness from beliefnet

Thank you

I understand what you mean and I agree in the sense that we are biological, living beings, first and foremost. I understand it as 'membership' rather than 'ownership' -

The Buddhist says to the Hot Dog Vendor, 'Make me one with everything.'

This is my personal vision –

May I be one with every other living entity, that is to say, let it be that I become a member of the unity of all living things; may my life also be a positive contribution to all other living things, both while I am alive and on into the future through the efforts spurred by my legacy.”

From a PM response to Wendyness, with permission.

I have frequently noted that I am from from a long, long line of organisms that made enough difference in the life of at least one other organism and the environment that supported them to "say" lets make more of us. In most cases this was a purposeful choice, if only the prettiest hindquarters, but generally something more important than that, some evidence of something that would make the "more of us" a little better than either of us with a little nicer place to live in. That was the easy and fun part. Then came the fulfillment part to "more of us" the care, the feeding, the final "you are on your own now, carry on."

The fact that uncountable ancestors did just that is why I am here, and the drive to "carry on" is what makes me part of everything, or as Wendyness said owns me. The carrying on is much more interesting for humans, as they (and their dogs if Jon Franklin is correct.)have in a real sense taken control over their environment to the extent that the legacy scope is huge. We have domesticated our food sources, and to a lesser extent our social and intellectual resources. But it is in the social and intellectual areas where the drive to carry on has the most impact and most responsibility. It is no longer enough just to make "more of us." It is necessary to make the environment they are going to live in amenable to fulfilled living.

Religion may have been the earliest attempt to domesticate our social environment, and seems to have been dominant for most of the Holocene human history. It also seemed to be responsible for the human intellectual legacy and the suppression of same. The separation of the intellectual legacy from the religious was the next great change. The invasion of the intellectual institutions into the social area is perhaps the current challenge for those driven to preserve the human legacy. Whether we like it or not it seems that being one with life or with everything is now contingent on humans solving their social problems.

I frankly don't think religion is up to the challenge, and will be relegated to keeping the majority content with their lot in life. Those with the intellectual capability to remake the human social structure into the necessary cosmopolitan paradigm are now responsible for the human legacy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Overpopulation Solution

The harmful aspects of religion - Beliefnet

And what do you propose we do about all those overpopulated areas of the earth? Haiti is a perfect example. It has a population density of 10 or 11 times the USA. Please help us poor theists know what is right. Should we send them more food, medicine and cash to help them 'rebuild' their country? What does science tell us is right?

J'C: "The dismal science: Economics, says food, medicine and cash, without rebuilding or building the infrastructure, will simply make the problems worse. The men, now fed and healthy will continue to rape their wives or women according to the dictates of their God whenever they are not pregnant, whether or not the men have the resources to support the resulting children.

The real solution is to carpet bomb the areas with contraceptive sponges with native language instruction on how to use them. Condoms would help as a supplement and for disease prevention, but you would have to teach the women how to put them on the men without their consent. (With their teeth, no man can resist a blow job.) But the key is to give women control over their fecundity. The sponge won't come out until the woman can afford the next child. 'Hey, prick, if you want to be a father, fork over the support.'"

This has been a hot button since a news article about an Imam telling people it is all right to rape your wives if they do not consent to more children. And the Pope saying no contraception under any circumstances. Sure a lot of American and European Catholics tell the Pope where he can jerk off and do whatever makes sense to them, but the poorer Catholic nations don't have that luxury. The math is simple 1+1=2 or 2.2 to be exact. Any more than that and you doom your country to poverty and the next natural disaster or war will cure it. It is a dismal science but if you can't do the math you lose.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Facts Truths and Half-truths

The Unification of Science and Religion - Beliefnet

What! No blocks to creativity?? That means you doubt the relevance of facts. Extraordinary. I thought it was only those like Whitehead who were aware of this

'There are no whole truths; all truths are half- truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.' -- Alfred North Whitehead

J'C: "Nice argument from incredulity there. Then you go on to tell me how I think. Cool.

I never was a big fan of Whitehead. I found his ideas muddy and confused filled with statements like the above. Categorical half-truths treated as whole truths. I got a half-truth to sell you, but don't worry I will sell it at full price.

Just for the record I do not doubt the relevance of facts. I have never encountered truth. Half or whole. Certain ideas stimulate the truth centers in my mind, so I accept them, but always provisionally. Not that they are half-truths, just that they are provisional truths. That is true unless something comes along to modify or falsify them."

An interesting confusion here between facts, half-assed-facts, and truth. Facts are verifiable by investigation and are generally agreed to be factual by those willing to investigate them. Half-assed-facts are urban legends, myths, rumors, and stories that sound like they might be verifiable, and may in fact be so. Or why exists. Half-assed-facts are usually presented solemnly as fact and generally expected to be accepted as such.

Truth is a statement that is evaluated by an individual as being irrefutable. Identifying truth seems to be an innate function of the human mind/brain. It starts with the truths learned at mother's knee, and goes on to those presented by authority figures particularly authority figures in positions of power or speaking for God. There is no such thing as a half-truth as Whitehead claims. The mind/brain does not work that way. It may be that Whitehead is speaking of provisional truth in his statement, I am not familiar with the context, but either the mind/brain accepts the statement as true, that is usable without thought or qualm, or it is not. The mind/brain does not accept maybes in its truth function. Even a provisional truth in a skeptical mind is nonetheless a truth. It is apparent in hard skeptics who are happy to assert the truth that eg. ESP cannot exist, or God is a myth. Truth is an intensely personal evaluation. Where people get in deep trouble is asserting a personal truth as general. Especially with respect to God. Existence of God is as personal an issue as sex, and should be treated as such in any discussion.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pre Existing Condition

Tony Auth

Secret of Life: Death

Quality of Life - Beliefnet

"The Greatest Secret in life is the sure, certainty of causes us to strive to leave our mark upon the Earth." If one is convinced that striving to improve one's life, the lives of their family and the lives of humans in general is futile, for any reason, one might attempt to 'opt out' of 'This Life' in preference for some promised 'better life,' somewhere other than the Earth. (I include in that group of 'alternatives' Heaven, Nirvana, 'Enlightenment' (of several different flavors, etc.)
exploringinside "

As Forrest Church would point out the secret of leaving our mark is the quality of our love. Not just for those closest to us, but for all we choose to include as "our society." Back when I was a UU that was supposed to mean "All people" but that was dispiriting as one cannot leave ones mark on "All People." It is much too easy to turn away from leaving ones mark to less worthy activities like group hugs without love of AIDS walks or kicking in a few excess bucks to UUSC and be done with it.

When Forrest ended a sermon it was always "Amen. I love you!" Who did he really love? I can't speak for him and cannot ask, and frankly I thought it was a little hokey until I read "Love and Death." But when I interpreted it (my interpretation not Forrest's) as I love those who will pay attention, be affected by my thinking, and pass forward the message and "Amen. I love you!" not from Forrest but from themselves it makes "the mark" make sense. We affect those we love, whether they are those nearest and dearest to us or those we may not even think of who love us and are affected by what we do and say if and only if we love them.
Amen. I love you!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What is a Human?

The Human Condition, - Beliefnet

Can you make a reasoned argument as to what is Man? No.

J'C: "It is obvious you are speaking for yourself in answering this question. I have no problem with a reasoned argument as to what is a human. First of all your use of 'Man' is the major part of your problem. People come in two sexes, and as KW would point out also two genders. Any reasoned argument about humans must take those facts into account. A human is a social, sexual, reasoning animal. The primary evolutionary advantage of humans was their abstract and symbolic reasoning capability which allowed them to pass up predation and gathering for herding and farming. This lead to large social groupings that needed complex interaction rules that is morality to allow the groups to function and accomplish all of the chores necessary for the society to grow and prosper. Many of the chores consisted of preserving the lore and knowledge of not only the tools and techniques, but the socializing and educating of the tribe. Another function was the integrity of the society, both in protecting it from intrusions and from internal sedition. All of this taxed the abstract and symbolic reasoning capability of the people to the utmost and some found ways to delegate the most difficult of these chores to tribal leaders, shamans, and ultimately to God.

Gender roles were dictated by biology for much of human history, women were in charge of the education and nurturing of the children and social cohesion. They were tied to the hearth by biology and their substantial economic contribution was home based. Clothing and tool manufacturing especially. The social cohesion provided by the casual conversation at the water source, the marketplace and the church.

Men were less tied to the hearth and frankly less valuable to the community so were assigned the dangerous chores of herding and predator control including the smartest and most dangerous predator, other humans. If things were going well men had time to think about more abstract things like why things were as they were, and how to understand their world so that they could make it better. Some were unable to participate in this intellectual activity and 'built the Cathedral' by sweeping the floor. Or protected the village by fighting on the periphery.

All changed radically when medicine and hygiene made fecundity of women perhaps an undesirable feature, and women were able to limit family size and have a decent chance of one child equaling one productive adult. The world is still shaking this major evolutionary change out."

The usefulness of God and religion was in keeping the floor sweepers and cannon fodder focused on the glorious afterlife. Valhalla, Asgard , Heaven, all with pie in the sky after you die, particularly if you died in the service of God. Please note that this is of need only for males who are taught from infancy to serve God and the shaman in any way they could, and if they could do nothing else do what the shaman says and God will take care of them in the afterlife. They were given strict rules to keep them under the shaman's control, and internalized their worthlessness relative to the shaman and God. This works very well for those that are unable to deal with the human male condition of subservience and worthlessness. The streets of heaven are paved with gold, and the whole universe is a playpen. God only knows how they would learn to play in that playpen, but they never think about that. And as for all the beautiful virgins without the necessary physical equipment you can't even jerk off.

We will see how it all shakes out. The God guys are out-breeding their resources, with significant help from the Pope, although the Pope is also insuring that AIDS will help with the population problem. Those controlling their breeding also control most of the resources. It will be interesting to see what they do with them. The main resource being intellectual of course, China, parts of India, Europe, and parts of the US are using those intellectual resources very effectively. How they will "share" will probably be ugly.

Problem with Pascal's wager

Problem with Pascal's wager - Beliefnet

J'C: "If Pascal had a delete button he would have used it for this brain fart.

As I noted in the other thread even if I were guaranteed an eternity of bliss worshiping the glory of God, it is still a bad bet. Even if I bet on the right God. And spent the right amount of time learning how to worship the glory of God. What do I win? An eternity of more of the same. Talk about SSDD."

It is high time fler0002 made the blog.
fler0002 1/15/2004 11:15 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wingnuts: Carpe Diem

Optimism - Beliefnet

Your implied strategy seems to be hope for the best and suddenly die, though a little more information would have saved your life. Is this what God wants? Don't worry about hazards, don't worry about disease, don't worry about your food supply ... live for today and, if you die tomorrow—though it could have been easily or not-so-easily prevented—so be it?

J'C: "Nothing implied about it. This is the real strategy of the religious wingnuts. I am all for it. I just wish God would collect them sooner rather than later."

The trick will be to not be caught in the snares God uses to catch them. The most dangerous is the nuclear solution to the problem of Islam. It won't be the US, but I wonder how long China will put up with the flies before they swat them. The US wingnuts will eliminate themselves with obesity and despair from loss of economic support for their merry-go-round. The banks they won't regulate will foreclose on their homes, Wallmarts, and churches, and Jim Jones is always around the corner. Unfortunately the universe is blind, pitiless, and indifferent. So is God.

Optimism - The world is predictable, therefore I am.

Optimism - Beliefnet

The dissonance arises in that you cannot really answer, 'Why is the world predictable?' The world is predictable, therefore I am.

J'C: "You just answered it. The world has natural laws. The world exists in a certain position relative to its major energy source. This insures that the observed fact of carbon based life is highly probable, and once started life gets more mobile and smarter until therefore I am. It was not inevitable, the bears or the cetaceans, might still win as humans kill themselves off, and there will always be cockroaches."

Talk about the blind squirrel.