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

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.

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.

"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."