Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Is a story a message?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? - : "If the message in art or storytelling seems more important than the story or the art the package will fail. However, a story without a message is destined to the dustbin of pulp fiction, read once and discarded without a thought. It is no wonder that the function of pulp fiction, that is mindless escape from the real world has been taken over by Video and UTube. Before you beat me with that dolly again, there are Videos with important messages behind the storyboard, and maybe there is even an important UTube out there, but you can bet it is entertaining as well as meaningful. The very few that are willing to think about the meaning behind the entertainment will keep it circulating in blogspace or the next big thing for people who can and do think."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Literature or Philosophy?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? : "One of the best and most popular courses in my brief stint as a philosophy major was a course entitled 'Philosophy in Literature.' The premise was that perhaps Shakespeare, Aquinas, Homer, Milton, Sartre, and Joyce were telling us more about the philosophy of their time than the academics, either historians or philosophers. One of the reasons I quit Philosophy as a major was the isolation from real life of the philosophers I was studying. I found myself going to the literature and music of the time to find out what was really going on. If you think about it, a novelist or other artist that wants to survive on herm art had better have a pretty good handle on the prevailing philosophy of the time. Not incidentally it is much more interesting studying philosophy in the context of a rollicking good story, than plowing through paragraph long sentences of meaningless words."

J'C: I find it much the same in music. The academics were pushing the cerebral envelope with studies of atonality, noise and silence, while the tenor of the times was being expressed in the movie scores and advert music. I find it amusing that modern "Classical" music is almost entirely movie scores. Of course Tchaikovsky only wrote popular music of his time also.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sir Alex and his Squire

Facebook | Videos Posted by Elizabeth Black: Sir Alex and his Squire

Grandson Alex with his new toy Thanks to Greg Stone and Jack Van Breen who helped get the right bass within the budget.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On Blank Books

Is Life Pointless?: "
I pick up this book of blank pages, and I say 'There's no story here.'

I think I will pick up a book of blank pages and see if I can write a better story that works for me. I just received an incredible gift from my sister, a small blank book with a poem on every page. Each page made many points of meaning for me and our friends and relatives. I will spend more time on that 'blank' book than on any book of ancient myths that are no longer even relevant to living."

WOLCUM YOLE

Our holiday started at the solstice with greetings all around for a wonder filled new year for all, and ended with a concert recital at a beautiful local Chamber Hall for her students at the concert level. The youngest being her usual 6 yr old prodigy playing Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Mozart, the oldest only 14 this year, and her 8 yr old star playing all sorts of things 8 yr olds can't play like a Beethoven Sonata Allegro and Rachmaninoff. An incredibly good day topped off with the Christmas Eve present opening.

It all bodes well for a great new year filled with wonderful music and the daily wonders that randomly make life worth greeting each sunrise with elation, expectation, and joy. It is no accident that my bed faces East.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Was Mary Magdalene "Q"

Who do people say the Son of Man is?:

"As I understand the 'Q document' its very existence as a 'document' is an inference. I find it much more likely that Q was a companion of Jesus for much or all of his ministry, had a good memory for what he said at the various gatherings and related those to the disciples along with other lore that may have been less important to the disciples in their cult building. Hesh probably was what would be termed today a groupie, probably was not literate, as it is unlikely that hesh had any relationship with the priesthood. The reason I am using the gender inclusive pronoun is that I find it probable that Q was female." And yes, I think of "Q" as Mary Magdalene.

Also I think Mary was much more important to the ministry of Jesus than the men who wrote the histories would even think of giving her credit for. I suspect that social conversations between the two were instrumental in developing Jesus' overall gospel of respect and love for ones neighbor.

Friday, December 19, 2008

WOLCUM YOLE

Christmas :

"As we approach the Solstice (7:04am EST Sunday), and all of the various holidays that have appropriated the end of the darkest night as a promise of better things to come:

Da Capo al fine
WOLCUM YOLE
MERRY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY HANUKKA
JOYFUL KWANZAA
fine

and let us not forget all the Scrooges, Grinches, and other Curmudgeons:

BAH, HUMBUG

and may the spirit of the season infect you as well to bring you to Da Capo
__________________"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is Obama different?

The following is an excerpt from an email to me from the transition team:

Dear [J'Carlin]

Over the coming weeks, thousands of Americans will be leading Health Care Community Discussions -- small local gatherings in which Americans are sharing thoughts and ideas about reforming health care. President-elect Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle are counting on Americans from every walk of life to help identify what's broken and provide ideas for how to fix it.

You can help shape that reform by leading your own Health Care Community Discussion anytime between now and December 31st.

All this and more, for $25 that's right, no zeros after the $25 to the transition team and an email with a suggestion about health care to the campaign team.

Incredible. Hey, I always wanted to be like Cheney and hold my own policy meeting, now I can.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is tribal morality an evolutionary selection parameter?

A question on morality :

"It is hard to say anything is wrong in an evolutionary sense, since either it will work and the species will flourish, or it won't and the species will die out. For social animals the situation becomes more complicated as the evolutionary unit seems to be the herd, pack, or in the case of humans, tribe, village, or parish. From an evolutionary standpoint that which enhances the survivability of the tribe, becomes good, or if you will, evolutionarily favorable.

Morality, that is compliance with the rules and customs of social interaction of the tribe becomes simply another evolutionary selection parameter. Tribes with functional morals survive, those with dysfunctional morals die out.

The main advantage of God is that Hesh conserves (ossifies) moral systems that helped the particular tribe flourish under a certain set of conditions. As long as conditions don't change much and the tribe flourishes under those conditions, one can say that God based morality is an evolutionary advantage.

I can't think of conditions that would favor a child torturing tribe, but under conditions that favor properly nurtured and highly educated adults, if the torturers had to compete for resources with tribes that didn't torture their children I predict they would lose out in a few generations.

It seems to me that such an evolutionary situation is playing out right now in the treatment of women in society. Some tribes are systematically removing half their population from the knowledge based competition for intellectual property. (Some tribes seem to be eliminating their entire population from this competition, but that is a different issue.) It will be interesting to see whether these tribes are able to compete in the cosmopolitan world that seems to be the evolutionary niche humans are beginning to occupy.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas time again

Christmas :
What are we celebrating? Winter solstice? A symbolic 're-birth?'

I celebrate the one known miracle that happens every day: the birth of a human being. Having the baby Jesus stand in for all of us doesn't bother me a bit, he was after all human. The Herald Angels of myth sing for all birthings, and it is good to be reminded of that at Christmas, and to be reminded that they sing for all births, the lowly cradled in a manger as well as those cradled in the latest hi tech birthing suites.

The overlay of all the solstice celebrations is 'Wolcum' as well with the food and the drinks to warm everybody to the season. My traditional greeting is "Wolcum Yole" from Britten's Ceremony of Carols which is a staple of my Christmas mix.

A righteous celebration for the season, I enjoy it immensely."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

There's no such thing as an atheist.

There's no such thing :

"True atheists are quite common although you are right that they seldom describe themselves as such. Many atheists go to church for the fellowship, networking, and social functions, and go through the motions of praying, and 'worshiping' but are quite aware that God is a tradition and not an entity. They depend on God for nothing in their lives, expect no response from God to their prayers, and worship, and manage their lives as if God does not exist. Very few, however take the next step and build a network of independent people to take the place of the church and finally break the dependence on religion. Only then will they start to self-identify as an atheist.

Other than occasionally on beliefnet discussions I can go months at a time without even thinking about being an atheist. God is just not a part of anything I do or think about. Morality and purpose come from those I call my society and although some of those I call my society are theists, their God has nothing to do with my life other than helping them be good people."

Played Carnegie Hall one more time!

.
As a registered alumnus of the New York Choral Society, an unbelievable email appeared in my inbox recently. The alumni who sang with Peter Paul and Mary in earlier concerts were invited to join them on stage at Carnegie Hall for the sing-along half of the concert.

No question of my not being there, and logistics were doable, so in conjunction with a Christmas visit with family in St. Louis another whirlwind trip to NYC happened.

It was, as they say, priceless. Despite worries about her health Mary put on her usual fantastic show and Peter Yarrow's Light One Candle is as relevant today as it was when it was written with its
Light one candle for the strength that we need
To never become our own foe.

To be a part of the show and see friends still active in the chorus after 20 years since I left New York was simply wonderful and a memory that will last as long as I do.

Always been an atheist?

Always been an atheist? :

"
I would like to know if you have, pretty much, always been an atheist.


All of my family members who were important to me were atheists, at a time when that was not particularly common. My immediate family were Unitarians when there were Unitarian Churches available and participated for social and fellowship reasons rather than religious reasons. When I was very young we lived in a small town where the liberal Presbyterian church (I think) was their substitute. The Unitarian Sunday School had a heavy emphasis on 'The Church Across the Street' and we would frequently go to neighboring religious institutions on a Sunday or Saturday if appropriate and then come back and discuss what we learned for a few Sundays before it was time to visit the next group. We were also encouraged to accompany friends to worship services and report back to the class what we learned.

It never occurred to me that God was anything but a unifying myth for the other churches, and I never was tempted to "believe." I did however gain an intense interest in the content of the myths and spent much of my spare time trying to figure out what it was that the various groups got from their worship. I spent more time with Catholic myths due to my choral music avocation, as large choral works are mainly settings of Catholic prayers and the Mass. Catholics since the Renaissance have recognized that "music is fundamental" and have encouraged musical expressions of their beliefs.

The result is an atheist with no need for God or any god for that matter, but I do appreciate the various religious myths and have no issues with those that choose to believe in them. The Abrahamic myths which are not tempered by a clear understanding of the Synoptic Gospels are misogynistic and hateful IMO and to the extent that they try to impose their misogyny and hate on the rest of us they should be opposed, but I don't see much that can be done within their church walls. Hate and misogyny fill the plate and attract the weak males that pay the bills, so I doubt an outsider can do much to change anything. When they come onto a forum like beliefnet we can hammer them with the facts of the rest of the world (I would have used truth, but they think they have a trademark on the word.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are atheists accountable?

Held accountable? - Beliefnet Forums:
Is it fair to say that atheists don't think we will be held accountable for what we have done in our life?

I will not be held accountable by some supernatural omnipotent alpha humanoid at some imagined judgment day after I am dead and gone. But I am held accountable in real time by those who are affected by my actions. Humans are intensely social animals, and a raised eyebrow on someone we respect is instant and powerful accountability.

Similarly, something as simple as a toast with a plastic glass of orange juice on an airplane can be a powerful reminder that we need to pay continuous attention to our relationship with those closest to us.

Sometimes I wonder, if people who obsess about that Dies Irae don't miss out on these here and now accountability lessons."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Does God Exist?

A Muslim respectfully asks - What is Atheism? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I find the existence of God to be an uninteresting question. Some people find belief in the existence of God comforting for a variety of reasons, some good and some not so good, and I have no issue with their beliefs. I have found none of these reasons relevant to my life, and therefore have no reason to care whether God exists or not. My life goes on exactly the same in either case."

what an atheist think when he hear a man of science says : my results force me to admit there is a God.

"That is nice"

If a belief in God makes a person a better scientist, or a better person I am all for it. If however, the belief makes herm bigoted, or self righteous, I am likely to oppose herm attempts to proselytize or otherwise force bigotry on the rest of the world. The belief that bigotry comes from God gives them no pass. It just condemns their God. As Jesus said Matt 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Rotten fruits are evidence of a rotten God.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tax Churches' entertainment venues.

Help- "Proof" issues - Beliefnet Forums:

Tax breaks for providing services to the community that the government cannot afford to provide. I think that is reasonable.

If churches registered their charities as 501(c) organizations separate from their entertainment venues, I would have no problems with deductions to those charities. I do have a problem with special tax treatment for the entertainment venues aka churches and the entertainers who perform in them aka preachers, pastors, ministers etc. I especially object to religious organizations selling tax exempt property without paying back taxes on it out of the proceeds."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Write your congressperson, sign petition, do something

Stop the Sneak Attack on Greater Yellowstone Wolves - The Petition Site: "



Stop the Sneak Attack on Greater Yellowstone Wolves
Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Sponsored by: Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund

With the clock running out on the Bush/Cheney Administration, federal officials have launched a final attempt to ram through a plan that could lead to the slaughter of as many as two-thirds of the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Rockies wolf population."

Or as Tom Toles warns

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Survival

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums:

The desire to survive is a sentiment.

The genes to compel survival are dominant and active in all animals including humans that are alive today. From the single celled amoeba to those miraculous culminations of all those evolutionary selection activities, my grandsons, the compulsion to eat and breathe, and
Run and find out (thanks Ricki-Ticki-Tavi)
in other words survive in the modern world, is alive and well and involves no sentiment at all."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Why a Jesuist?

Who do people say the Son of Man is? - Beliefnet Forums:

"Paul is the reason I am not a Christian. God is the reason I am an atheist. Jesus is the reason I and many nominal Christians are Jesuists."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Can I join the Circus now?

Ben Sargent documents the Republicans latest attempt to stay in the public eye. Hey, if you can't govern them, at least you can entertain them.

Forrest Church discusses the odds.

STANFORD Magazine: Forrest Church Book Excerpt:
Believe me, there's nothing like a kick toward the flag to get the old blood pumping and the crowd off their bums cheering. Besides, without even trying, you've already won the only race that really matters. Unconsciously, yet omnipresent, you ran the gauntlet of stars and genomes to assume your full, nothing less than miraculous, place in the creation. Being alive to love and hurt, to fail and recover, to prove your grit and show compassion, that is life's true secret.


Leave it to Stanford to pick out the unusual in Forrest's new book. And leave it to Forrest to turn Silky Sullivan's loss in the Kentucky Derby into an inspiring sermon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Catholics are irrelevant.

Priest Calls Vote for Obama a Mortal Sin - On Faith at washingtonpost.com:

"'Voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil, and those Catholics who do so place themselves outside of the full communion of Christ's Church and under the judgment of divine law,' Rev. Jay Scott Newman wrote in a letter to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville.

'Persons in this condition should not receive Holy Communion until and unless they are reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance, lest they eat and drink their own condemnation.'"

As if anyone needed any more evidence. All of the Catholics I know are by now bypassing their priests and dealing directly with God. All the priests are for is to make the soothing noises in the Mass, and bless the Eucharist. A few parishes have reasonable priests that they can talk to, but the rest....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

To Nambu, Kobayasi, and Maskawa

Greetings and congratulations from my sister and Poet Laureate


To Nambu, Kobayasi, and Maskawa,
Physics Nobel Prize Winners, 2008

with apologies to William Blake


A break in the symmetry--how cosmic a thought;
A break in the symmetry, and all that it wrought.
We’d none of us be here, not you and not me,
Were it not for a break in the first symmetry.

Curious Adam and gullible Eve,
Banished from Eden, as some folks believe,
Their tale of the apple would simply not be,
Had there not been a break in their symmetry.

Mendel and Darwin, asymmetrical sages,
Genetic codes journeying down through the ages;
Ten million mutations, strange creatures to see,
All due to that break in the great symmetry.

One infinitesimal break, so inconspicuously small,
That even old Einstein didn’t see it at all;
Now wonder of wonders, the Bang and the bee,
All thanks to that break in the first symmetry.

Consider the outcomes--or just nevermind;
‘Tis likely my DNA’s about to unwind,
Some slight imperfection on a upsidedown spree,
Seeking new breaks in my symmetry.

© 2008 Bonnie Black

Will the Requiem for religion be played on Twitter?

Humanist Question : "

From where I stand [religion] is mind control and if people can learn to break free from that bondage and question limits they are not 'suppose to' question it would be like another renaissance period!


If you think back to the renaissance and religion what do you think of? Gutenberg gave the bible to the people and broke the power of the priesthood in interpreting the will of God. The increase in literacy and all the Bills thinking 4 themselves
after using the Bible to learn to read lead inevitably to the Enlightenment and the rise of ordinary people to political power as a counterforce to the power of the church.

The internet social networking may be the next and final blow to the power of religion. Web 2.0 divorced Obama from the Democratic party, and will almost certainly divorce most young adults from the need for the church as a social networking organization. When the Mullahs and the Bishops can say behave this way or you will never find a lover and make it stick, their power is increased by those there only for the social networking.

When you have to twitter on your iPhone to get the attention of your roommate at the other computer, you aren't going to waste time going to church to find a suitable partner for fun and games. "What are you doing?" "OO 4 swty sprt - Gd /rqd" The Mullahs and Bishops scream but calls to prayers on Twitter are not likely to even be read.

GM's future

According to Tony Auth


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama on his faith.

Obama's Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani - Steven Waldman:

"I retain from my childhood and my experiences growing up a suspicion of dogma. And I'm not somebody who is always comfortable with language that implies I've got a monopoly on the truth, or that my faith is automatically transferable to others.

I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.

I think that, particularly as somebody who's now in the public realm and is a student of what brings people together and what drives them apart, there's an enormous amount of damage done around the world in the name of religion and certainty."

This whole interview, just after he was nominated for the Senate race in Illinois, is well worth reading

Christmas time again

Pharyngula: Oy, it's War on Christmas time again:

It is OK to say 'Merry Christmas'. Even I have been known to say it. Go ahead, have a good time with the greeting, although it does rather rip the spirit out of it if you say it through clenched teeth with furrowed brow, looking like you're daring everyone to object so you can punch them in the throat. It's also OK to say 'Happy Solstice,' 'Season's Greetings,' 'Happy Holidays,' and 'Merry Cephalopodmas,' whatever feels right to you."

I have always liked "Wolcum Yole!" which Benjamin Britten popularized in his Ceremony of Carols. It seems to be a 14th Century folk song. that he used as his text for the opening piece after the processional.

I think the Ceremony of Carols is a wonderful celebration of all that is good about an English Christmas. Lots of pagan rhythms and fun winter party music.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A million small donors

If the world could vote - Beliefnet Forums:

"I think the most important fact of the election was the million or so people who donated less than $200 to the campaign. We got nothing but spam for it, but the fact that so many contributed to his success is I think significant and personally I hope the spam continues with opportunities for feedback. Yeah, it will be poll data, but poll data from those that spent the bucks to help."

Monday, November 3, 2008

What is wrong with civil unions?

Why are Christians so obsessed with homosexuality and gay marriage? - Beliefnet Forums:

"The problem I have with civil unions is the separate but equal issue. It is the old, gays are all right as long as they lock the bedroom door and exit the house by separate doors. If my life partner, in my case female, needs some help with the bureaucracy, I want to have the status of spouse so that I can climb all over the idiots behind the desk. That is why we got the marriage certificate and had the ceremony to celebrate it. We could have had the sex and the living together without all the hassle and fuss, but it would not have been marriage. That is what you are asking the gay's to do. No marriage, no respect for the partner. It is that simple."

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums: "You may sit out this election, which I admit is better than voting for McCain ... But there is a huge difference in which Christian God is going to be driving the Government. Your choice is the hate filled Christian™ God of those who think Atheists are not Americans or the UCC God which is inclusive and comparatively tolerant."

Pharyngula

Pharyngula: "Has anybody thought to look at what Bill Ayers actually promotes? He has a website, and it's trivial to look up what he's advocating. For instance, here is a description of his book, Teaching Toward Feedom:"

I was there in New York when the Weathermen were active. I chose other ways to protest the dysfunctional presidency of the time, but I was certainly a fellow traveler in protesting the war and the hate filled presidency. This was in the 60s not the 00s

Alaska Road would Destroy Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge - The Petition Site

Alaska Road would Destroy Wilderness in Izembek National Wildlife Refuge - The Petition Site: "7:17 am PST, Nov 3, Carlin Black, California


If Alaska destroys its wildlife refuges it might as well sink the cruise boats. Those of us from the South 48 don't visit for the roads, and we resent the destruction of migratory bird habitat."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote NO on Prop H8.

- Beliefnet Forums:

"Bad Christians need Christ, and the rest of Paul to justify their evil.

This is not an academic issue.

Christians are promoting Proposition H8 in California as we write."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Palin - The mighty hunter

First the moose, then wolves, now elephants.

Tom Toles

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The gay marriage wedge.

Why are Christians so obsessed with homosexuality and gay marriage? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I think homosexuality and gay marriage are simply the politically correct whipping boys for those Christians that accept the Pauline principle that sex is for procreation only and any other expression of sexuality is sin. It would be hard to generate a political movement against recreational sex in general but homosexuality and gay marriage are wedge issues that can establish the legitimacy of political regulation of sexual activities.

First the gays, then the fornicators, and pretty soon cameras in the bedrooms to insure no contraception and the missionary position only."

Forrest Church -Link to personal website.

Forrest Church, Theologian and Author:

"Available now from Beacon Press:

Forrest Church's highly praised new book,
Love and Death

'The story of the Rev. Forrest Church of the All Soul's Church in Manhattan is a profile in courage. Not just for his lifelong work helping those less fortunate, but for his perseverance in the face of a fatal illness.'"

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Atheism's roots.

Expelled discussion - Beliefnet Forums:

"My atheism is firmly rooted in the dysfunctional morality and meaning promoted by theists and especially by the Abrahamic tradition in the Talmud and derivatives and by Pauline Christianity. The fact that they also promote bad science of all kinds is sort of the stem on the cherry. There are so many more important issues that if someone sees me sucking on the stem they shouldn't think it is the only thing I care about."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher?

Is Heinlein the atheist's philosopher? - Beliefnet Forums:

"I have been reading Heinlein most of my life, and have always appreciated how he manages to create interesting, meaningful, purposeful and moral societies in his stories without God. I don't necessarily agree with all of the details in all of them, but in general I can say that Heinlein speaks for me as an atheist exposing the lie that meaning, purpose and morality come only from God.

I appreciate the fact that Heinlein preferred the liveliness of the market place rather than the halls of academia for his philosophical musings. Maybe all the best philosophers are good story tellers.

He was, and is, an influential social arbitrator, in spite of all the efforts to ban his books from our libraries and schools. The God Squad recognizes the danger. But the books still sell and are discussed in intelligent circles."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Freethought Halls of the Internet

Atheist Activism - Beliefnet Forums:

"Perhaps it is time to devote more effort to establishing a global network of Freethought Halls to serve as an alternative to faith-based outreach programs.

You are in it. It is called the Internet.

This is one of the halls. There are many others.

Even the thought police of the theocracies cannot block the satellite internet signals, although they can make the computers that receive them contraband. But book burning and computer banning cannot work, because the freethought underground will hand copy the important tracts if necessary."

Goldwater, Obama and American Politics.

Libertarianism: - Beliefnet Forums:

"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.
Barry Goldwater

Our last great attempt to elect a Libertarian.

Unfortunately, also the last election where it was not necessary to choose between two nutcases. At least this election only two of the four are nutcases. I still think Hillary was the best president we ever had, too bad she had to marry a nutcase to get elected, but American politics has always been like that. At least Obama is overqualified as is necessary for a minority in this country.

Ah, American Politics. Maybe the internet will change that finally, so that an intelligent, qualified and maybe some time even an atheist candidate would have a chance at being elected."

Humanity's fall away from God is our salvation

Human Dignity, Good and Evil - Beliefnet Forums:

"If opposing those like Hitler are reflections of man's fallen nature, thank you, I will fall back on my basic humanity, and my social morality associated with it of opposing leaders of all stripes using hatred, bigotry and fear to motivate 'their people.' If some of these leaders claim to be motivated by God, they get no pass from those motivated by the basic human morality of respect and tolerance for all who reciprocate in kind.

Unfortunately, some little Christian tinhorns in fancy dresses in the overdecorated balconies, use these tactics in the image of God and must be opposed. Those of us who must fall back on our basic human morality, will try to use non-violent opposition where possible, which sometimes gets us in trouble, but the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, both dark skinned you may note, unlike the white skin in the depictions of God in most Christian churches, give us hope that our basic human morality will ultimately prevail."

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Historical Jesus

The Historical Christ non-existant? - Beliefnet Forums:

"If you strip the obvious miracles, especially the resurrection, which Christians cannot do of course without destroying their faith, you find a charismatic itinerant preacher, who integrated a consistent message of radical humanism and independence from the god mediators, priests, and shamans. It was a theistic culture so it is not surprising that he would believe in God. The core of his message was to develop a personal relationship with God directly, no priests necessary or even desirable, and treat all humans as neighbors to be respected, aided when necessary even at considerable cost to yourself, and loved as one loves oneself....

Cults are not started by committees, which for me argues strongly that there was a historical person that was the basis for the Jesus cult for which there is some historical evidence, Paul's Christian Cult. for which there is ample historical support, the Gnostic cults, for which historical documentation has recently been discovered, and other cults rumored but for which no documentation exists.

It is clear to me that this historical person was a human that lived and died in the usual human fashion. He believed in God, but was not one himself. He was the earliest documented humanist, and I think all humanists, theistic and atheistic are indebted to him, if not obligated to worship him.

37...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38This is the first and great commandment.
39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40 (King James Version)


I find the first optional, clearly an artifact of his culture. All of humanism hangs on the second."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama's negative ad

As I was leaving the debate midway, McCain complained about Obama's attack ad on his medical care proposal. If attacking an idiotic centerpiece of an opponent's campaign is negative campaigning, I would like to hear a clue from McCain on a reasonable debate. But then, that would assume McCain has an clue.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

God and Evil Cont.

Why Athism? - Beliefnet Forums:

"Almost all Gods that are at the root of evil are believed to be supernatural. Frankly, I don't think the secular gods like money, power, prestige etc. carry enough belief intensity to compel evil. If a person cannot believe the claim 'God made me do it,' I don't think any sane human is capable of evil.

Disclaimer to our respectful guests: God is also capable of motivating much that is exceptionally good for believers and the world. And also that which is good for believers and their societies. Unfortunately, much of it depends on that little tinhorn in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony who interprets the will of God."

God - The Root of Evil

Why Athism? :

"
I would probably say selfishness is the root of all evil more than fear.

Nope.

God is the root of all evil. I don't care what God it is. Evil done by people is always in the service of their God."

Trickle down economics

Finally we really get to see what they mean.

Tom Toles.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Make the good people nice.

uuworld.org Meg Barnhouse: the church and the unicorn:
"We know we are supposed to be kind and loving and not jump down each other’s throats for not getting the right kind of free-trade coffee or greeting visitors too enthusiastically. I heard a poem on the radio the other day, part of which was a prayer: “Ye Gods…make the bad people good—and the good people nice.”

Honey, we’re trying."

Make the good people nice. If God could do that I might even believe in Herm.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Life After Death?

Life After Death? - Beliefnet Forums:

"
...does it also mean that you don't believe in some sort of existence beyond this one? Or are those two totally separate things--so would you find some who do and some who don't?

I would suspect that a person that does not put herm faith in God would have first resolved the Pascal Wager and arranged their life so that an afterlife is irrelevant. That is if there is one all participate, doing pretty much what they did in observable life with no sorting, hence no placating an alleged sorter. But in my experience most atheists think it is such a long shot that they don't think about it at all."

For me it is simply a pleasant fantasy to assist in remembering and celebrating those who are dead. As in: it would be nice to ask Beethoven what he was thinking about in the third movements of the first and third piano concertos. Was it really a children's playground? The chances of it happening after I die? Nil. But it happened just now, and in a real sense this might be Beethoven's afterlife.