Sunday, November 30, 2014

More on Living and Dying

A well integrated atheist has a different view of death.  It is a natural result of not being able any longer to continue working on one's legacy which is an atheist's reason for living. There is no fear of consequences, they have already happened.  At any point at need I can and do remember the valuable life lessons taught me by my atheist predecessors which I have passed on to their and my successors.  When I have nothing more to pass on due to pain or infirmity, there is no reason to want to continue.   As a well remembered member of the DA community, Charles Fiterman/Gaius_Caesar, expressed it so well I ask daily what am I doing with my time that justifies the pain and expense and inconvienience to others of going on. When the answer becomes bad enough I will do the right thing.  Not surprisingly he was working on his legacy up until the right thing was necessary.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Recycling Churches

Don't forget performance spaces and restaurants.  I know of a few churches, still conducting services for a handful of parishioners to keep their tax deduction that are prime concert venues.  Others have revamped their service to appeal to the SNBR and basically are run by a minister, a custodian, and a booking agent.  A trend I highly approve of as an Indie performer. 

Many SNBRs like the Sunday Country Club and will support a church that doesn't demand compliance with doctrine and/or bigotry.  On any Church Street you will find several places where you will feel quite comfortable as an atheist (if you like that kind of stuff and can put up with references to the Greater Being.)  They will even host your Celebration of Life and cater the party afterward at very competitive rates compared to a commercial venue. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Criminal Justice

I tend to categorize crimes into at least three different categories. 

Victimless crimes: All of which are behavioral issues best treated as "illness."  Society may have valid reasons for prevention, but treatment in secured facilities if necessary is the only humane solution.  

Crimes against other people: Possibly behavioral issues, but society cannot afford not to have severe deterrence penalties.  Up to permanently removing the behavioral issues from the gene pool if possible, and from society if not.  

Crimes against society: Up to and including treason.  Deterrence penalties appropriate to the crime are the only possible solution.  Legislators may argue about "appropriate" but deterrence is the only solution.  Note that the deterrence is a cost benefit issue for the criminal.  Most famously "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country,"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Community Moral Origins.

In the cultural and moral history of humanity multiple communities are an almost insignificant part of our heritage.  Certainly not enough to affect the basic moral conditioning we recieve. So for practical purposes the face group of your parents is your community.  It is rare even today for mama's face group to extend beyond the parish, village, etc.  Even dad's community was generally local, the store the smithy, the farm.  So culturally one can be confident that the basic community values are those of mama. 

Multiple communities really began in the 19th Century when the schoolmarm with an out of town education came to influence the children.  Cohesive community morality began the slippery slope to competing community moralities.  We are still just beginning to learn how to deal with them.  Some still don't. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Is Religion Useful?


I find fundamentalism to be a victimless crime as long as it stays in the community of fundamentalists.  I am not convinced that bringing a child up to fit into herm community is child abuse if the community is large enough to provide for the needs of all in the community.  In the well connected cosmopolitan society in which they are embedded I suspect that they are non-competitive, but that is their problem not the larger society.  Political proselytizing can and should be discouraged politically, but most societies are able to do so long term.  

Other than political activity I have no issues at all with believers in some supernatural focus for their lives.  It provides a prepackaged social and ethical structure that can be at the very least comforting and satisfying, and relieves them from the difficult activity of making sense of being alive and having to die.  If the great mother Goddess or the misanthropic God takes care of all the spiritual needs one can devote ones attention to the social and material needs of living with greater focus.  

I find deconversion activity is useful for the community, but I suspect that SBNR is the reasonable expectation rather than atheism. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Terra Nostra

I recently performed Part I of a newly composed Oratorio called Terra Nostra, by Stacy Garrop. 
She selected an interesting collection of creation myths to introduce her Oratorio:   
(KJB) In the beginning, in the beginning,
The earth was without form and void.
God said, Let there be light, and there was light.

(India) This universe existed in the shape of Darkness.
Then the divine Svayambhu appeared, dispelling the darkness.
With a thought, he created the waters, and placed his seed in them.

(North America) All the earth was flooded with water.
Inkonmi sent animals to dive for dirt at the bottom of the sea,

(Egypt) I am he who was formed as Khepri.
When I formed, only I existed.  Everything was formed after me.
Numerous are the forms that came from my mouth.
(Walt Whitman) A blade of grass is the journeywork of the stars.

The idea of a creator seems universal. From the old myths from around the world to the atheist Whitman.  Science seems to support Whitman as all the elements needed by a blade of grass were created in the early universe stars and novae.

I found it to be an interesting collection of creation myths.

If, as Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land asks:  What if they are all right? Are we the ultimate creators?  Is Ouroboros the right analogy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Moral Development at Different Levels of Society

It is important to understand that moral behavior is not necessarily "good" behavior.  Morality is simply the selection of behavior that agrees with the infant's genetic sense of good and bad.  

If a very young child is abandoned and survives, moral actions are those that promote survival.  Society may judge those actions to be dysfunctional and control them but that has nothing to do with moral development.  See Bloom et. al. 

A child brought up by members or a member of an identifiable social group will associate behavior that promotes the welfare of the group with "good" and that which is contrary to the welfare of the group as bad.  The morality so developed may or may not be judged moral by a larger society, but ultimately it seems that compliance with face-group standards is the natural morality of humans.  

Moving up the chain to associations of face groups, either religious or secular, commandments, laws and rules of behavior are established to define minimum standards of behavior that promote the welfare of the larger group.  These commandments, laws and rules are not to be confused with morality, as frequently these commandments, laws and rules will conflict with the genetic sense of what is good and what is bad as it relates to the face group.  The face group at that point may withdraw to the extent possible from the larger group.  See the Amish and other Anabaptist groups who live by their own moral standards ignoring the laws of the larger society except where there is unavoidable conflict. Or they may be forced to withdraw from the larger group as the Native Americans were.  Again, nothing to do with the morality of the larger society, simply rules to make the larger society work. One could make a strong case that the laws of society are by definition immoral as they force compliance with activities that may be against the morals of individuals within the larger society.

Once one gets to the Nation or Religious entity morality is simply treason or heresy. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Global Citizens in a Cosmopolitan Society


He is not saying that globalization of society is preferable, but that breaking out of the tribal/national box is desirable.  Considering oneself a "global citizen" in a cosmopolitan society is an ideal.  Imposing globalization on idiots is impossible.  Some people cannot see beyond their sect/tribe/nation/God and half the time crap on people slightly different from the norms of the tribe.  In general social Darwinism (natural not imposed) will eliminate the worst excesses of tribalism. But evolutionary time scales are generational not annual.  Since the major threats to human survival are global, it may be a moot point whether globalization will even have a chance at working.

I am optimistic, humans have survived greater threats than these current ones, but the process will certainly not be pretty. "'I'm learning Chinese' says Werhner von Braun."

Live a Life Worth Dying For.

Good Bible quotes for Atheists
Ecclesiastes 9 -
5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost.
Good old Ecclesiastes: Probably the first atheist. How he got into the Bible is still one of the great mysteries of life.   

I would, as an atheist, modify 9:5 ... they have no reward but the memory of them in those they have affected. 

Forrest Church is remembered and probably will be long remembered for, among many other things, "Live a life worth dying for."  Even special animals can live on if only as an abstract in fiction:  Balto the sled dog IRL and Lassie representing all working/companion dogs. 

Geometry and Truth


Abstractions don't work in reality. Hence neither do Euclidean plane figures, Euclidean solid figures, pi, or numbers. They're all mental constructs with no real counterpart.

True.  Nonetheless they work just fine to navigate and calculate your way around in local two/three dimensional space. The transept in 3 dimensions is 90o to the 2 dimensional plane reality.  (Even though it really isn't.  Your 100 story building will stand just fine using that mental concept.) 

In the same way truth, beauty, love, empathy and even God work just fine in the real social space of tribal humans.  Until global social space must be considered. There other concepts of human living come into play. 

Jesus came close to how to live in the global space with "Love thy neighbor" [with all thy heart, and mind] no matter which tribe or culture hesh is a part of.