Saturday, April 30, 2011

On the Internet

atheism is NOT a "worldview" - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community

One of the glories of the internet is that everybody is free to post anything they want to even if it gives them and those they pretend to represent a very bad name. On this very blog you can see that exhibited frequently. The trick is to pick your arguments carefully lest you fall into the trap 'Don't argue with an idiot. Hesh will drag you down to herm level then beat you with experience.' This is true all over the internet.

But please, here and all over the internet, no one speaks for any group, no matter how loudly they shout 'I AM AN IDIOT,' they don't even speak for idiots.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tribal Moral Law

atheism is NOT a "worldview" - Beliefnet

All moral law is ultimately the mores of the tribe. That which allows the face group of the tribe to function. The tribe may adopt a moral law giver in the form of a shaman or imaginary super shaman, but either will of necessity codify the mores of the tribe: Be nice to members of the tribe, protect the children of the tribe, respect the leaders of the tribe and protect the traditions and lore of the tribe.

In the modern world tribes are larger than a face group, and dispersed among other tribes in the society, but have common tribal values. Some are built around a religious tradition, others are built around business traditions, and another is based around the traditions of the university community. The university communities are typically split into the scholars and the warriors, and loyalties to each group carry beyond the campus with the warriors transferring loyalties to professional warrior teams, either sport or military.

The above is grossly stereotyped of necessity, there are major differences within each 'tribe.' Religious groups in particular are split into smaller and smaller groups some as small as a parish, each with its own mores and most with it's own higher moral law giver providing an absolute higher moral law for the tribe. Of course it is too much to expect that these absolute higher moral law agree on much of anything except that they are right and all the other absolute higher moral law givers are wrong.

It should be noted that there are atheists in most of the tribes, and the atheists generally adopt the world view of the tribe with the exception that the absolute higher moral law giver, if there is one, is an imaginary myth.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Harry Jesus Christ Potter

The bulk of Jesus Potter Harry Christ is a well researched and readable source for the mythical (literary) underpinnings of the figure of Jesus Christ in the mythology of Christianity. Which author Derek Murphy argues should be seen as a literary myth rather than a historical preacher who walked the earth and died in a spectacular fashion. He argues convincingly that the existence of a historical Jesus destroys the mythical basis of Christianity. (Not a bad idea in this atheist's opinion. For my take on the historical Jesus see Jesuism posts on this blog.) Murphy argues that the myth that grew out of the historical mythology that is well documented in the book is the real Jesus Christ of the Christian faith not the historical Jesus.

In the summary he draws the parallel between the nascent Harry Potter cult and the development of Christianity built on the mythical underpinnings of the Christian religion. I for one would like to see the sequel where he documents the humanist mythology underlying the Harry Potter myth. Christianity is passe.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Origin Stories

Science vs. Religion - Science & Religion - Beliefnet Community

There is overwhelming evidence that all gods including God came from tribal stories to explain the unexplainable at the time, including the origins of people and things and by extension the universe. These tribal stories ultimately came from the minds of people, who pre-existed the stories. Since these people presumably had something to sit on while telling their stories, the universe, technically ebergy/mass must be the bottom turtle.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Morals of the Tribe.

The 'existence' of gods - Beliefnet

They both are talking about morality. The real issue is where Ken gets his preferences and cptpith gets his empathy basis for good and evil. And for that matter where you get your 'God says'

Humans are basically tribal animals. Tribes these days are distributed in the larger society. But within the tribe morality, that is, what is right and wrong is as rigid and strict as the 10 Commandments, although less frequently violated. 'Aunt Matilda' tells mom and dad which fork to use, who may screw whom, and who may own whom, and all of the other rights and wrongs of the tribe. Mom and Dad in turn make sure the children from the time they are old enough to play with other children internalize these rules with their pablum. 'Aunt Matilda' has lots of help, other relatives, teachers, mentors, authority figures all play a role in defining right and wrong for the tribe.

Your tribe throws God into the mix, but in general God's moral precepts are so archaic that even the most devout must pick and choose among them and interpret the ones they choose so heavily that in effect God's morality is the believer's personal preferences just like Ken's. I would bet that Ken's preferences are based on a modern educated tribe's morality, and that in fact they are more rigid than a believer's.

If the believer has chosen only the Second Great Commandment and discarded all the rest of the archaic moral precepts, they don't have much of an argument with cptpith, except maybe that God said so rather than the tribe dictates.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gil Robbins, Vocal Musician

Gil's love for and dedication to vocal music of all kinds made a profound difference in the the many different genres he touched. As a singer, a conductor, or even as a club manger he changed everything and made it much better. It was a pleasure an privilege to have known and worked with him. Condolences to Mary and the wonderful family they raised.

However...every time I touch my lip to catch a breath in a fast passage I remember Gil and all the other things he taught me about how to be a better singer. And that leads to Mary and the family in the apartment in the village going over Choral Society business. All good memories that will be around as long as I am, and as long as anyone touched by Gil's genius is around.

Just 12 days later Mary joined him. Loving memories washed with tears will always be a part of their legacy to all choral singers, but especially to the New York Choral Society. Thanks Mary and Gil for all the joy and music you gave us.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spiritual But Not Religious

Dawkins' chapter 8 - Beliefnet

For more years than I like to think about I have been trying to find a word or even a short phrase to substitute for spiritual, as well as a word that I can nail on a theist that means spirituality attributed to God. I have failed.

I finally found a God specific substitute for transcendent in "numinous" thanks to Rudolf Otto.

But I haven't yet found a word that I can say "You mean ..." when a theist uses spirit or spiritual. So I am left with accusing God of hijacking a profound human experience and generally turning it into crap. "Hey, look at the rainbow!" "That is God's promise that he isn't going to kill us all again." I am not impressed, I will enjoy the rainbow without the help of God.

I think the world is making progress in taking spiritual back for human experience, just as we have reclaimed soul from God. I am pleased that it is now referring to human experiences.

I always congratulate a person who claims to be spiritual but not religious. If they ask why I suggest that they have reclaimed their humanity from God's playpen. More than a few have thanked me for expressing their thinking so concisely. I once heard an echo, always a nice experience or should I say a spiritual experience.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Natural Spirituality

Dawkins' chapter 8 - Beliefnet Community

For political reasons you don't call it spirituality, but I suspect that there is more to your life than the material/intellectual inputs. Awe, wonder, love, hate, beauty, are all values that I call spiritual, in that they inform the non-rational component of the mind that I call spirit. Just to be clear spirit is not put into the mind/brain by some God or other external force but is an integral part of it. Religions try to hijack spirituality just like they try to hijack morality, but there is no need to let them do so. I would like to find other words for spirit and spirituality, as I don't like the religious overtones, but like morality, there just isn't a secular concept that does the job. We will just have to reclaim them from religion.

Spiritual Truth

Dawkins' chapter 8 - Beliefnet

When you let the material/worldly override truth, it is spiritual suicide. Spirituality is as necessary for human survival as eating and pooping. Spirituality is the function of the mind that is the reward center for discovering exceptional beauty, truth, relationships, and emotional truth. In a spiritual experience all mental activity is subsumed to the importance of the moment, and the truth contained therein.

Spirituality is not necessarily the province of religion, but religion can be a cliff notes version of spirituality for those who cannot or will not do the study and introspection necessary for personal spiritual truth. Religion does not prevent and in fact encourages the study and introspection but many ignore it and let theology override spiritual truth.

The Tribe as the Human Evolutionary Unit.

What is the Purpose of Religion? - Beliefnet

As the human evolutionary selection unit is the tribe, as long as tribes were small enough and cohesive, a god was a useful entity to take the responsibility of leadership from the tribal leaders. 'Hey, it isn't me making bad things happen, it is God. I only take credit for the good things that happen.' Religion codifies the social necessities of tribal cohesion, providing the moral and social rules that allow the tribe to function. Another important function of religion is to codify and preserve the stories that transmit those moral and social rules. Humans are story telling animals and the stories told in the gatherings are the way the mores are transmitted and preserved.