Saturday, October 30, 2010

Lust, Commitment, and Morality

Question about Actions and Consequence - Beliefnet :

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Morals without God?

Morals without God? - Beliefnet:

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Atheists and Jesus

Atheists and Jesus - Beliefnet :

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Intellectual Poverty of Rationalism

Antitheism? - Beliefnet:

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

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

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

Thursday, October 14, 2010


There Is No God - Beliefnet:

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

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

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

Thanks TolerantSis


There Is No God - Beliefnet:

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

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

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

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


Thanks Kwinters for this

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Morality as Face Group

Please Critique My Idea Of God - Beliefnet:

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

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

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

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Christian's Problem

Richard Dawkins Thread v2.0 - Beliefnet:

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

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

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

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Paul's sins

Sex and spirituality. - Beliefnet:

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

Gender Definitions.

Sex and spirituality. - Beliefnet:

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

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

Common Religious Morality

The Bright Line... - Beliefnet Community:

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


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

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


Protest the Pope - Beliefnet:

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

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


Life after death? - Beliefnet :

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

Using the Bible

Romans 1:27 - Beliefnet:

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

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

Midwest Cuisine cooking

The Tea House - Beliefnet:

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

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

My mate is also Chinese.

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

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

I turned whiter than I already am.


The Tea House - Beliefnet:

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

On Wicked Hearts

Romans 1:27 - Beliefnet:

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

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

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

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

The Ice Cream Diet

The Tea House - Beliefnet:

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

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

Tough Times and Atheism

Separating truth from superstition - Beliefnet:

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

Learning from Religions

Separating truth from superstition - Beliefnet:

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

Atheist Belief Systems?

How many flavors are there? - Beliefnet:

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

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