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Christopher Hitchens: Religion Poisons Everything

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Posted on Jun 6, 2007
Hitchens
Edward McNamara

By Jon Wiener

Editor’s note: Christopher Hitchens died Thursday, Dec. 15. (You can find Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer’s remembrance of his friend here.) Jon Wiener spoke with Hitchens in 2007 about his views on religion and the book that would turn out to be one of the milestones of Hitchens’ career. For more on the subject, you can read Mr. Fish’s remembrance of and interview with the public intellectual here.

***

In his latest book, “God Is Not Great,” Christopher Hitchens makes the case against religion and for “free inquiry and open-mindedness.”  Hitchens, of course, is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School, and author of many books.  He spoke recently with Truthdig’s Jon Wiener.

Jon Wiener:  You show in your book how many horrible things men have done because of religion. In Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade and Baghdad, men kill other men, and say God told them to do it.  But why blame God for the bad things that men do?

Christopher Hitchens: I don’t blame God.  I blame religion.  I don’t believe there is such a thing as God. Religion makes people do wicked things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. It doesn’t make them behave better—it makes them behave worse.  You couldn’t get people to hack away at the genitals of their newborn children if they didn’t think there was a religious obligation to do so. The licenses for genocide, slavery, racism, are all right there in the holy text.

Wiener: Yes, the Old Testament is full of these horrors.  But it also contains the Ten Commandments, prohibiting killing, stealing, adultery, and lying—isn’t this a good thing?

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Hitchens:  No.  it’s not.  Because these are prefaced by a series of injunctions to fear a permanent, unalterable dictatorship.  The first three commandments say “just realize who’s boss.”  Let’s assume the story of Moses is true, even though archaeologists have utterly discredited it.  Do our Jewish ancestors have to put up with the insult from us at this late stage that, until they got to Sinai, they thought murder and theft and perjury were OK?  Of course not.  There would have been no such people if they thought that.  There has never been a society or civilization that did warrant those things. And you don’t need divine urging to see that they’re wrong yourself.

Wiener: There’s one other commandment, the tenth—thou shalt not covet.

Hitchens: That is a particularly horrible crime of dictatorship, namely the crime of thought.  It says you can’t even think about this.  To say you’re not allowed to steal your neighbor’s possessions—including his wife—that’s one thing.  But to say you’re not allowed to envy your neighbor is absurd.  It’s impossible.  And the spirit of envy can lead to ambition and innovation and initiative.  I would say that’s an immoral commandment.
 
Wiener: Let’s talk about Islam.  You point out that the 9/11 terrorists said Allah wanted them to fly planes into buildings.  But there are something like a billion Muslims in the world today, and only 19 of them flew planes into the World Trade Center.  Why hold all of Islam responsible for the acts of those 19?

Hitchens:  I don’t.  Islam in fact has one advantage over Christianity—it doesn’t have a papacy.  There is no center that can say “we condemn this” or “we support this,” the way the church supported Franco Spain and said prayers in Germany on Hitler’s birthday by order of the Vatican.  But the centers of legislation and authority in the Islamic world, such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo, have a lot of difficulty condemning suicide bombing.  In fact they’ve never got around to doing it.  They can’t seem to condemn even the blowing up of other Muslims—in Iraq, for instance, where they are blowing up each other’s children and each other’s holy places. No words seem to come from either Sunni or Shiite religious authorities there or elsewhere in the world saying “this is wrong.”  That’s because they don’t really think it is.  If it’s done for their cause, they surreptitiously sympathize with it, and you can detect that surreptitious sympathy if you read any of the statements from the Muslim authorities.  That’s a grave crisis for Islam—and for us, too.

Wiener: Are you saying Islam is worse than other religions?  It seems to me your position has to be that all religions are equally bad.

Hitchens: The position I take in the book is, of course, that all religion is equally stupid and an expression of contempt for reason and an exaltation of the idea of faith, of believing things without evidence.  But that doesn’t mean I think a Quaker and a Bin Laden are exactly the same.  They all have individual disadvantages.  I would say that, with Catholicism, the mad insistence on celibacy is peculiarly deforming.  With Islam, the problem is that it claims to be the last and final revelation.  All that’s required now is that everybody realize the truth of this book.  That’s extremely dangerous preaching, in my opinion.

Wiener: Don’t Christian fundamentalists say pretty much the same thing?

Hitchens: Yes they do.  But I think there is a real problem with Islam of intolerance in that way—it forbids itself to have a reformation.  That’s fanatical and actually murderous right now.

Wiener: Is the problem you have been describing religion per se, or is it the monotheistic religions of the West: Judaism, Christianity, Islam?  Are Eastern religions different and better?  Especially Buddhism, with its compassion for all living things; especially Tibetan Buddhism, with its impressive leader, the Dalai Lama.

Hitchens: The Dalai Lama claims to be a hereditary god and a hereditary king.  I don’t think any decent person can assent to that proposition. You should take a look at what Tibet was like when it was run by the lamas.  Buddhism has some of the same problems as Western religion.  Zen was the official ideology of Hirohito’s fascism that was used to conquer and reduce the rest of Asia to subservience.  The current dictatorship in Burma is officially Buddhist.  The Buddhist forces in Sri Lanka are the ones who began the horrific civil war there with their pogroms against the Tamils in the 1950s and 1960s.  Lon Nol’s army in Cambodia was officially Buddhist.

Wiener: Let’s talk about the U.S.  Polls show that 94 per cent of Americans believe in God, and 89 per cent believe in heaven; of those, three-fourths think they will go to heaven, but only 2 per cent think they will go to hell.  This seems laughable, but what’s the harm in people believing they will go to heaven after they die—and see their mothers there?

Hitchens: All you have to do is promise them 72 virgins, and they’ll kill to get there. That’s what’s wrong with it, along with the fact that it’s a solipsistic delusion.  And the spreading of delusion in the end isn’t a good thing, because credulous and deluded people are easy to exploit.  People arise who are aware of that fact. 

If belief in heaven was private, like the tooth fairy, I’d say fine.  But tooth fairy supporters don’t come around to your house and try to convert you.  They don’t try to teach your children stultifying pseudo-science in school.  They don’t try to prevent access to contraception.  The religious won’t leave us alone.  These are not just private delusions, they’re ones they want to inflict on other people. 

Wiener: Of course, you are right that we have Pat Robertson and, until recently, Jerry Falwell, saying horrible things in the name of religion. Both welcomed 9/11 as payback for America’s tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.  But we have also had Martin Luther King and Daniel Berrigan and William Sloane Coffin.  Why not conclude that religion can lead people to do good things as well as bad?

Hitchens: Let me start with a question: Can you name a moral action taken, or a moral statement made, by a believer that could not have been made by an atheist?  I don’t think so.  I’ll take your case at its strongest—that would be Dr. King. Fortunately for us, he wasn’t really a Christian, because if he had followed the preachments in Exodus about the long march to freedom, he would have invoked the right that the Bible gives to take the land of others, to enslave other tribes, to kill their members, to rape their women, and to destroy them down to their uttermost child.  Fortunately for us, he didn’t take that route. 

The people who actually organized the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin and A. Phillip Randolph, were both secularists and socialists.  The whole case for the emancipation of black America had already been made perfectly well by secularists. I don’t particularly object to the tactic of quoting the Bible against the white Christian institutions that maintained at first slavery and then segregation.  But there’s no authority in the Bible for civil rights—none whatever.  There is authority for slavery and segregation.

The widespread view among white liberals that black people in some way prefer to be led by preachers is a condescending one.  It leaves out heroes of the movement like Rustin and Randolph, and has licensed the assumption that people like Jesse Jackson and, much worse, a complete charlatan and thug like Al Sharpton, are somehow OK because they’ve got the word “Reverend” in front of their names.  That’s done enormous damage, not just to black people, but to the country in general.  It’s the Falwell equivalent.

Wiener: What about practical politics for progressives: since almost all Americans believe in God, for progressives to attack, ridicule and dismiss religion as you do is political suicide that will ensure religious Republican domination forever.  Instead, we must argue that God is not on their side, and we must respect the fact that people belong to different communities of belief.

Hitchens: If you want to argue that God is not on their side, you can’t argue “that’s because he’s on my side”—you have to argue there is no such person. Marxism begins by arguing that people have to emancipate their minds. The beginning of that emancipation is outgrowing of religion.  If religion were true, there would be no need for politics; you’d only need to have faith.

Wiener: I know you’ve often been told that everybody has faith in something—for most Americans, it’s Jesus; for you, it’s reason and science.

Hitchens: That’s not faith, by definition.  You can’t have faith in reason.  It’s not a dogma.  It’s a conviction that this is the only way that discovery and progress can be made.

Wiener: The intelligent person’s argument for religion is that religion and rationality don’t compete—they deal with different parts of life.  Religion answers questions that science doesn’t: Why do the innocent suffer? What is the meaning of life?  What happens when we die? 

Hitchens: I wish it was true.  But, in fact, religion doesn’t keep its part of the bargain here.  It incessantly seeks to limit first discoveries and innovation in science and then their application.  Galileo, of course, but more recently discoveries about the possibilities of limiting the size of your family.  Really, they don’t want us to reconsider our place in the universe, because if we face the fact that we live on a tiny speck in an immense universe, it’s going to be difficult to convince people it was all created with that tiny speck in mind.  It’s not possible to believe that nonsense if you have any interest in science.

Wiener: The final killer argument of your critics is that Hitler and Stalin were not religious.  The worst crimes of the 20th century did not have a religious basis.  They came from political ideology.

Hitchens: That’s easy. Hitler never abandoned Christianity and recommends Catholicism quite highly in “Mein Kampf.”  Fascism, as distinct from National Socialism, was in effect a Catholic movement. 

Wiener: What about Stalin?  He wasn’t religious.

Hitchens: Stalin—easier still.  For hundreds of years, millions of Russians had been told the head of state should be a man close to God, the czar, who was head of the Russian Orthodox Church as well as absolute despot.  If you’re Stalin, you shouldn’t be in the dictatorship business if you can’t exploit the pool of servility and docility that’s ready-made for you.  The task of atheists is to raise people above that level of servility and credulity.  No society has gone the way of gulags or concentration camps by following the path of Spinoza and Einstein and Jefferson and Thomas Paine.


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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 14, 2007 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

Hemi,

Power of God did not manifest to all, because God only speaks in Latin, you can ask the pope.  The earth being flat may have added to the problem. Another thing, if God had written in the sky or had a floating mid are miracle, everyone would have seen it and God’s son would not have died on the cross which makes a much better story line.

You know it is possible, Vegan Mary would have been stoned to death if she had not made the whole thing up about the ambulant contraption, another little know fact, Vegan Mary talked with a lisp and everyone misunderstood what she was really saying. 

Thanks to all of you for your answers on my post questions,  great insight, Cu-do Gracious pooka friends. 

Waving Rancheros

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By Shenonymous, July 14, 2007 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

Hemi you are always onto something profound.

A question, or rather a set of questions we are left with are legitimately generated:  was Jesus the third incarnate (father, son, holy ghost) of god from birth and if so why did it have to wait until he was in his late 20s or 30ish to become transfigured?  It always struck me as very odd. It is not like the Dalai Lama where a small boychild is identified at a very young age upon the death of the aged Dalai Lama to be the new personification and raised and tutored as the high lama into his adulthood.  So are we to trust our logic or as many clergy think, accept the dogma mindlessly?  Have “faith.”  And those on the other side of the flat Earth are just out of what? Luck? Oh right, everyone will have the chance for redemption at the Judgment Day festival. It should be a really big frat party. The other thing that is so sticky is the “virgin” birth.  So the Holy Ghost supposedly impregnated Mary, or, could we say it was a case of divine rape? Or I guess when the Archangel notified Mary, she didn’t really have a choice?  What do we suppose went through her mind?  Did she have a mind?  Here we go again with that mind thing… Was the impregnation done with divine sperm? With a divine penis? No, the Holy Spirit (hear that Leefeller) moved over her and she was with child.  What could that intercourse have been like? Was it sex or not? Did she have to go throught the enire nine months?  Sheesh!  You’d think god would give her a break!  The relegation of the female in Christianity is very, very strange.  They took the old snake goddess and turned her inside out!  Because without answers to these questions, how then could Jesus be a human incarnation of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent god?  Very sticky wicket.  Ought not we heathens to ask those questions, are they heretical? I think atheists cannot be heretics, at any rate.

We are going Mexican – What is the Buddha nature of a chicken tostada with lots of cilantro?  TO BE EATEN!  Maybe with a Corona?

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By Hemi*, July 14, 2007 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment

Re: #86911 by Mike Mid-City

“I’m sure you friends will still see you as a neighbor.  That never goes away for Christians who have some understanding of Christ’s teachings.

Although if they dust off their heels, well you been dissed.”


You know Mike my intensely Christian friends would try to talk me down off the ledge of non-belief. Not my Catholic friends mind you. Most of the Catholics I’m close with have major problems with the pedophile scandal hypocrisy. They would likely say we don’t blame you.

We thought we had a good understanding of Christ’s teachings. We’ve looked a lot closer and found much of it borrowed and much of it senseless at least for us. I’m sure it had meaning for Paul. I’m very uncomfortable having ever been influenced by his well earned guilt.

Boy, I’ll meet you for Mexican Mike.
Between you and guacamole and She and the tortilla soup.

Enchiladas

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By Hemi*, July 14, 2007 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

Re: #86912 by Shenonymous

“Hemi I don’t think Jesus wrote a thing, ever.”

Sorry, I was vague in how I expressed that. What I was insinuating was that the Gospel writers wrote about a mythical Jesus but never considered writing for him in his voice. Why would Jesus have to writeanything? He wouldn’t and neither would anyone else. If true he would be known to all by the “Power of God” and not the cryptic “Believer’s Digest”.

Why wouldn’t the power of God be manifest to all? You know written in the sky, mountain floating in mid air observable miracle. Then the Mayans, Inuit, Native Americans would not have had the misfortune of being born out of sight of the “Supreme Being”. Oh yeah, he couldn’t see them on the back side of the flat Earth. Savages!

Chipotle

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By Shenonymous, July 14, 2007 at 3:24 pm Link to this comment

Hemi I don’t think Jesus wrote a thing, ever.  Wasn’t he rabbi? From my recollection Jesus‘ claim to be the Son of Man is seen in Christianity as a direct claim to be the Messiah (Daniel). And in John, Jesus speaks as existing before Abraham and there are other references to his divinity. But what is mind boggling is that the Jesus/messiah story is not entirely an exclusive story of the early Christians that has now survived over 2500 years but in many different ismatic forms. I think it is entirely explainable.

You may have answered your own question, Leefeller.  Socrates (or Plato) would say you already have all the answers to your questions, else how would you know when you realize an answer is correct?  Course that could be an epistemological trap.  (This problem can be found in Plato’s dialogues, the Meno and the Theatetus).  Noam Chomsky calls it Plato’s Problem.  Such ideas as fallibility, defeasibility, reliability and more all enter into for and against arguments.  It can be fascinating if one wanted to spend the time.

Far as I know, spirit can mean a couple of things.  It is used metaphysically or metaphorically.  When used metaphysically, it supposedly joins the ranks of all descriptive words for the ultimate nature of reality and could mean an immaterial energy found in all living things. Prior to his death, Jesus reportedly (Luke) commits his spirit… so in this sense, it is not different from soul which is a term more identified with something eternal and pre-existing unless Jesus was meaning his breath*???.  Sometimes spirit is thought to be some kind of ghost-like thing that survives someone’s death. But a counter idea has spirit as distinguishing a live body from a dead one and implies mind and consciousness. The latter meaning is closest to the Latin *spiritus which means breath.  I’ve always thought it a synonym of mind, but not soul since I do not think [a] soul exists.  I have a hard time with mind (spirit) as well but not as strongly since I think I do have a mind, I just can’t give it as clear a definition as I am comfortable with. You might recall my comments of a couple of days ago about mind, and losing it.

The metaphorical sense would include perhaps the feeling of being included in a society or group as in esprit de corps. Or meaning a world view as is used in Billy’s film The Zeitgeist Movie (zeitgeist means spirit of the age, which we learned in world history classes, especially about the rise of Nazism).  It can also mean alcoholic drinks, as in whiskey (spirits can even be seen printed on some bottle labels).

There is probably some cases (no doubt a lot) I’ve missed, but that gives you some idea.  Do horses or cows have minds? They sometimes seem spirited.  I have a cat who seems to have about a 20 word vocabulary as I can say different things and he reacts as if he knows exactly what I am saying: such things as “ do you want some breakfast?” at 6 in the morning and he runs to his bowl, often he comes howling at me at 6am, and “brush” he runs to the closet where his brush and comb are kept, or “want a drink of fresh water (his bowl is in up on a sink and he jumps up there)?”, and he talks to me saying he wants to go in a closet to sleep in his favorite spot actually sitting by the closed door, and so on. Does he have a mind (spirit), I want to think so, but hell, I don’t know.  Guess I am agnostic about that.  I’ve already talked about my believer friends and how we just accept each other the way we are with no cracks in our friendships. Hope this helps.

Chicken tortilla soup

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By Hemi*, July 14, 2007 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

Re: #86891 by Leefeller

Interesting stuff Lee. For the horses and Republicans my initial response was yes and no. Just kidding, I don’t think horses are either. I think animals are better in tune with the natural world, with humans included. Animals that depend on us and are familiar with us act differently toward us. They learn, we learn. We’re all alive and we need each other and I think that might give some people pause in thinking about our interactions. My sister has a stable and she’s a “horse whisperer” type. The damn things seem to communicate with her at times. She teaches handicapped kids to ride for therapy. It’s amazing stuff and the animals and children seem to have some connection. Whatever, it works to benefit the kids. It doesn’t come close to making the horses spiritual, just sensitive I think.

I for one talk to my dog all the time. It seems to relax and comfort him and costs me nothing. I’ve even been caught referring to him as “son” once in a while. I’ve even told my human son to “go walk your hairy brother” at times. Friends have jokingly called me nuts. I just tell them I chose him and took him away from his parents, if I’m not his father now, what am I? His owner? I am, but I prefer not. Do I humanize my dog? Sure but that just keeps me more sensitive to his needs as a living thing. I teach my kids to respect all life and that goes right up the food chain to people. People are far more complicated and that makes it harder to love them at times but all the more worth the effort.

We’ve been able to deal with our “believer friends” as simply our friends so far. We were believers once and have chosen not to butt heads at this time. Our change in belief has not altered our moral leanings on most subjects. We don’t feel any sort of guilt from not delving into this with them. Heck, in general we have far less guilt in our lives. We also have friends we can explore this subject with. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag. They’re in general all good people and relevant in our lives despite theological differences. That’s a bit reassuring. If push comes to shove in the future and they decide we are “untouchable”, so be it. Their loss. We’ll see what the future brings.

Cheesecake Sera Sera

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 14, 2007 at 1:12 pm Link to this comment

Random thoughts, food from thought?

A small group of my friends have this belief that horses are spiritual, one person in particular has an obsessive connection with her 7 horses.  Since I used to raise cattle and had a small cow calf operation, I knew most of the cows by site or even name, we kept the cows and sold the calfs.  Once in awhile we would use a steer for meat.  My observations were that cattle had individual personalities, their was a pecking order similar to chickens. I had reverence for my animals and treated and provided the best care I could afford. My point is, I did not feel them to be spiritual, but not sure what that is supposed to mean. My horse lover friends bandy the word spirit around like Bush uses the word terror.

She we discussed what the word spirt could mean, but I could not find it back in our posts.  Anyone what does spirt mean to you.  Can horses be spiritual, how about Republicans?

Getting back to the friend topic, I find my feeling toward horses is only a casual interest, I see little difference from horses and the cattle I used to raise. (I know, I raised cattle and never rode a horse and I did not ride my cattle either)  Friendship seems to evolve or devolve depending on the strength of the relationship.  Seems to me if a friendship is very strong differences of ideas should not be a problem.  On the other hand, as people interests change it may be time to move on.  May have answered my own question. 

I know we have already touched on this topic.  How do some of you handle your contacts with believers?  Do you node your head and try to change the subject or topic? 

Port wine and popcorn

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By Hemi*, July 14, 2007 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

Re: #86871 by Shenonymous

“But we never got the hero’s (Christ’s) point of view. Duh…only second- or third-hand often hearsay reports.”

That was one of the last straws for me. You would have to have a hero in order to have his point of view. I’m not certain whether writing in the first person was common then. I think it was but I can imagine the superstitious hesitancy toward writing as the living voice of God. I think it made the Gospels more palatable and cohesive with past scriptures that were written “I have wittnessed God” rather than “I am God”.

Crusty bread and Chianti

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By Shenonymous, July 14, 2007 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, my trip to Greece via Italia, will carry with it the memories Mike Mid-City talks about regularly. Wonderful memories that I have gathered from this nearly 1000-year post (Hyperbole is one my nicknames).  A millennia of words from the unabashed minds of mental giants.  My foray into the poetic.

So onward to one thousand…

The problem I have with Beowulf is the sentimentalist Christian overtones that Christ “saves.” Sort of like those neon signs I see on some churches around town.  That Beowulf travels with 12 warriors smacks too much of the gospels, disciples, apostles. But as a morality play, in opposition to “passion” plays, the story works better to dispel the idea that there is only one side to every monster story.  The metaphor of heroism outweighs the religious distinction. Having run across Grendel in a college lit class, I was interested to learn more about the original poem. Really, really long olde poem.  I prefer the Seamus Heaney translation to Alexander’s. But I read it about 10 years ago and only glanced at the Alexander. Gardner did what I mimic and often do as a teaching device in my critical thinking classes in taking a piece of literature and have the students retell the story from a different character’s not-the-hero’s POV.  I suppose that is what we get from the gospels too??? But we never got the hero’s (Christ’s) point of view. Duh…only second- or third-hand often hearsay reports. People do love a story.  And we have to admit the romanticism of the Christ story. Especially since the Jews were already primed for a coming-of-a-messiah story (and they still are). We must remember that Christ was a Jew, who, according to some researchers, spoke Aramaic and that the gospels were written much later after his death in Aramaic and Greek although Jewish scholars claim Jesus spoke Hebrew.  It’s all so very interesting how believers have coalesced in today’s cultures what is really very iffy factuality.  We must be reminded that the similarities of the bases for religious stories across cultures as noted in the Zeitgeist Movie is verifiable information.

So snail slime imagery of Oz on a window… is that gallery worthy?  Maybe digitals in very expensive framing?  Lee… you might carefully cut out the glass and frame that then hang it outside and watch to see if crowds gather, especially little people, singing “Ding dong…the (you fill in the blank) _______ is dead.”  It could cause a media frenzy. 

Kettle-cooked potato chips

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By Leefeller, July 14, 2007 at 9:20 am Link to this comment

Billy,

You stated,

“I have a pretty amusing routine”

My vote is for you to express yourself, go for it.

We can shoot for 1000 before, She leaves!

Candy and Spice

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 14, 2007 at 8:51 am Link to this comment

Forgot to close my last post.

Egg on my face!

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By Leefeller, July 14, 2007 at 8:48 am Link to this comment

This morning I woke up and went into the living room and behold, I saw a miracle.  Since it has been quite hot around here during the days, we left the windows open overnight to cool the house down.  Condensation had built up between the slider glass windows.  A snail must have climbed up and looped around and back down the window.  It turned out the snail left a slime trail, an outlined profile of the Wizard of Oz.  Some people would insist that this is a sign. Maybe a house is going to fall on the wicked witch from the (west or east) cannot remember which witch is which.  What do you think, a sign?

Yesterday I painted most of the day while listening to Vavaldi,  it felt so great. Melancholy?  Just needed to get back into my studio.  Thanks for all your support, seems I needed a break. Creating something, anything, whether you are a writer, an artist, carpenter or dung beetle is most fulfilling and gratifying.  (I have tried all of the above, except the dung beetle).  Not sure where this feeling or gratification comes from?  In the doing, a sense of accomplishment, tuning out the world or possibly all of the above?  As She, stated we can experience fantastic and wonderful things, I did yesterday and will today and tomorrow, if I can.  You know, I think it is in the learning!

Thanks again all my pooka friends.

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By morgan-lynn griggs lamberth, July 13, 2007 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First, just what can one mean by God when that is just a meaningless word? God did it is pure magic. God is the mere unimformative tautology that God wills what He will. If He is morally without blemish, then He can do no wrong but if He is omnipotent , then He can. If He is so omniscient that He knows our futures, then we have no free will.How anyway can one know the future before it happens.He cannot know how to swim. Such are the pitfalls of trying to make a personal explanation out of a mystery surrounded by others that altogether offer no real explanation.That is the ignostic argument.[ Check the web for it.] God requires ad hoc assumptions that natural causes do not as the Ockham argument shows; natural causes are the primary and efficient causes.We no more need God for a personal explanation, contrary to the silly Richard Swinburne argument, than we need Thor, gremlins or demons! Natural causes make for the presumption of naturalism[ Antony Garrard Newton Flew, before his dotage].The ignostic and the Ockham are the bedrock of any atheology,along with the denial of free will as theodicy. If God can be all good and have free will without being the Supreme Robot, it follow logically that neither would be robots were we also all good and have free will.Theodicy is a series of dodges to exonerate God!

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By -Michael, July 13, 2007 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Sounds like the fat lady approaches the stage.  Sad, in a way. 

Billy has been taking it easy on me as of late; I kind of miss the abuse.  How about one last parting jab?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Re:  “Poor Michael getting pilloried for agnosticism.  I think he may be a little like me, poor guy. “ All this horse shit, there must be a pony here some where.” He just can’t see an intellectual way to have faith.  If I’m wrong here Michael feel free to point out my error(s).”
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I don’t think that I sought an intellectual way to have faith, rather a way to comprehend it.
Understanding how believers can conflate reason/science with faith has always intrigued me.  I’ve learned that some believers are so confident in their faith that they enthusiastically enter lion’s dens like these and present an unshakable position.  They listen, reflect, analyze, and respond to every challenge using infallible logic (mostly).  What I first had mistaken for arrogance and inflexibility was simply an absolute knowledge of God. 

    One take-away from these interactions is that believers aren’t going away any time soon.  Whether God is real or invented is irrelevant because their belief is glaringly real.  No one is going to reason a person’s god away.

With belief comes doctrine.  This holds true for believers and nonbelievers alike (to include “creedless” secular humanists).  But for every Pope Benedict trying to preserve the ‘word of god’ there are scores of others who change the culture of their church, ignore the bullshit, or defect.  These ‘reasonable believers’ demonstrate that their ties with the church come in a distant second to their relationship with God. 
 
So I guess I’ve got faith after all.  Faith that people of all walks of life can get it right.  You can blame my faith on ignorance.  Conversely, over-education breeds cynics… and “can’t never could”  - Forrest Gump

“I’m going to Heaven, Lieutenant Dan.”

“Well, before you go, why don’t you go down to the corner store and get us some more booze.”

That’s all I have to say about that.

shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo…  - Michael

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By Shenonymous, July 13, 2007 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

Right un, Leefeller.

Life can get depressing at times and for all the reasons Leefeller listed. Yet we keep the pot boiling because like El Capitan, it’s there.  The world that is.  I hear apathy from students, and I also hear hope.  The ones who lift that veil of apathy will inherit it all.  Atheists don’t really ever get apathetic.  Cynical, yeah.

There is another old Greek myth, the myth of Sisyphus. He was a bright and talented character and refused to respect the natural order of the universe.  He was condemned by the gods! to an eternity of repetitive, strenuous, labor. The existentialists Camus (who actually wrote an essay called The Myth of Sisyphyus) and Kafka both wrote about the absurdities found in the world.  Kafka did not think there is any hope to be found on earth. And Sartre wrote Being and Nothingness.  But he along with Russell did oppose the Vietnam War.  Whose to say their efforts did not help hasten its end?

On the other hand, John Gardner, a more contemporary existentialist, writes in Grendel, and I loosely paraphrase, that only one’s individual actions are cause for suffering and agony.  Despair is not the only outcome. We must, assert the goodness of life and the discard the decadence of thinking you’ve got the entire answer.  One cannot succumb to hopelessness. Nor apathy. It is a damn struggle to avoid either of these. Gardner’s character Shaper informs us about the virtue of bravery, courage.  Those same virtues Plato and Socrates so many eons ago held up for man to realize.  Atheist think this one here is the only life, however it comes, and that with that incredible and unique thing called consciousness humans can imagine and experience fantastic and wonderful things. One only has to listen to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, or the Organ Symphony of Saint Saens (No. 3) and hundred of other grand pieces of music for the emotions to be lifted.  Or see in person Van Gogh’s Harvest Landscape. Or just visit a museum for an entire day.  The arts bring humanity home.  I suggest when melancholy seeps in do everything you can to experience some public art, visual or performing.  It doesn’t wash away all of man’s sins, but it alleviates over the short term.

Bubblegum

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By Hemi*, July 13, 2007 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

Re: #86595 by Leefeller

“Life is short, one grain of sand on beaches of the world, we should use it wisely.

seaweed”

I think we all know exactly how you feel Lee. It’s like eating an artichoke. So many layers of distortion to get to such a small taste of clarity. The frustration is always there simmering and yet we don’t give up. Is the truth that tantalizing a prize? Are we hooked having had “a taste”?

I get the impression that I’m a kid and life on Earth is a Flexible Flyer on a huge icy hill. I see the stand of trees at the bottom of the hill. The trees are truth. Do I roll off this exhilarating ride, tumble and get scraped up facing truth alone? Or do I not fight the status quo and allow my weight to add to the final impact? Will my getting off even matter? “What can we do about it?”

“Kelp me if you can, I’m feeling down,
And I do appreciate you being ‘round.
Kelp me get my feet back on the ground,
Won’t you please, please kelp me.” – L&M sorta

Kelp

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By Leefeller, July 13, 2007 at 8:53 am Link to this comment

FYI

Picked this up on the web, a classic soundbite.

“Today was a historic first for religion in America’s civic life: For the very first time, a Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber—only to find the ceremony disrupted by three Christian right activists.”

Religion poisions itself which can include almost everything.  Hey, maybe we can deliver an “uninvocation” at the Senate chamber?

French Press Coffee

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By Leefeller, July 13, 2007 at 8:20 am Link to this comment

(loss of mind) or Melancholy Thought

Reading further into Hitchens book, (is taking me forever to get into it, must be because I read several books at one time and Hitchens is the one I nod off on)  his perspective shows the problems of the world may be much worse than we are lead to believe.  Mass media the powerfully elite feed us selected little sound bites directed by crony special interests, our limited knowledge of what is really happening is controlled.  As She suggests it is imperative to have our filters on, but what I am finding out about myself is, a veal of apathy is overtaking my want to understand the problems of the world, simply because truth is elusive. Mass media, religion, special interests (religion is special interest)  and government manipulate what is and what is not, truth is not even in the ball park. 

Last evening I tried to return and read other articles of interest on Truth Dig, I found myself with a seeping lack of interest. My interest in politics has waned to a trickle.  As the old saying goes, no news is good news, it is possible I need a vacation, or at least more time to write, paint and enjoy life. 

When I mentioned Libby going free, She wrote what can we do about it.  Exactly!

Elusive truth,  hiddden behind perpetuated smoke and mirrors,  knowing someday the wind will blow and a hammer will strike.  Meanwhile seeking ghosts of knowledge, forcing our desire to learn.  We have done this here, I thank you. 

Life is short,  one grain of sand on beaches of the world, we should use it wisely.

seaweed

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By Hemi*, July 13, 2007 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

For: #86516 by Leefeller on

“(Nice post on the pope site Hemi, yours was right on).” - Lee

Hey thanks Lee. But you know commenting on anything regarding “His Hollowness” is like shooting fish in a barrel. It is always fun to vent a little.

For Shenonymous,

“Guan Yin then is the female bodhisattva who is a compassionate being who responds to the people in the world who cry out for help” - Shenonymous

Holy crap! You nailed it She. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told her she is the Earth Mother. I’m very fortunate. She attracts all kinds of people and children just flock to her. I think some people accept me simply due to the fact that I’m with her, “he must be OK too”.

Re: #86437 by Billy the Dik

“The reality is much less convenient and much more ugly for, on top of the reality, the automatron reaction of the automata.”

“None of that occurred because these were just girls, and we have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that violence against females is… expected.”

BTD, thanks bro. You have this thing for purifying these events and images. I have these gut reactions and just don’t know the exact point of origin. You cut through the crap.

For: #86524 by Mike Mid-City

“Don Henley sang the the “Greeks don’t like no freaks” but I’m sure he wasn’t talking about the Greek Orthodox Church and Jesus Freaks.”

Mike, “Greeks Don’t Like No Freaks” is the only Eagles recording also featuring one Jimmy Buffett. It was actually a rant against college fraternities. I know, too much information. And although the wife is not a hot rodder, she does drive a Dodge. You just knew there was a connection, didn’t you? I’m a sucker for those damned car and motorcycle customizing shows. It’s not my bag but it’s fascinating seeing what people can make.

Cannoli

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By Rob, July 13, 2007 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

Hey guys,

This is the kind of ending atheists have prepared themselves for all their lives.  A bittersweet, yet grateful goodbye. 
If I might suggest, say and do as good as you can because these are the memories that you will look back on with warm smiles.  I think, from reading some of the other blogs, we hit on something rather special.  We went full circle towards the light of understanding and none are the worse for wear.

I find my life well stated by Peter Angeles in “Critiques of God” and I would like to leave you with a paragraph if I may.

“I am.  I am in many respects an insignificant part of the universe.  I accept that.  I accept that without remorse or sadness because there are many things about living that I enjoy and cherish and love whether I am a significant aspect of the universe or not, whether I “have purpose in the universe assigned by God or not.  Any significance to be found in life will not be found, except illusorily, in relating myself to the universe as a whole—to the imagined grand design of the universe—but in making the best I can with what I have and with what I can develop cooperatively with others who love man and mankind.  My life feels impoverished and insignificant not when I cannot relate it meaningfully to the universe as a whole but when I cannot take some of my life, and some of the universe, into my hands and make art out of them.

I am.  And in existing I must create meaning from my own depths and with my own resources in conjunction with others who also seek to act and create humane meaning. There are no alternatives to this other than ennui and the eventual destruction of mankind.”

And so it goes…. love, rob

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By Shenonymous, July 13, 2007 at 6:37 am Link to this comment

Well I think we can keep this alive to 1000. That would be freaking wicked cool. I’ll be around ‘til Friday, the 20th. Back around August 10. Life moves on.  I know I will most likely run into to some of you on other threads. I’ve seen a couple of you there already.  This one wasn’t political.  All the other ones I’ve hit are, I get very visceral over politics.  I hope to visit Billy’s Michael Martin site when I get back, if it’s still there.

FYI: Been reading Rushdie’s Verses and for the life of me cannot see what the locked-minded Kohmeinai were all pissed off about. Page 92 is the best so far, but good grief, the novel won’t turn anyone into an atheist.  Doonsbury would have a better chance at that!.

Il Gelato de San Crispino – the best ice cream in the world

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By Leefeller, July 12, 2007 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment

To all you Truth Dig Pooka web posters,

Looks like we are going to break 900. Do not know how much longer we can keep this thread alive.  This evening I checked out some of the other threads, and none seemed interesting, (Nice post on the pope site Hemi, yours was right on).  Noticed one poster mentioned that he believed the Pope and company was planning on reinstating some laws against blasphemy ?  Am still reading the Hitchen’s book, I will try to continue bringing attention to ideas and asking questions as long as this thread stays alive. 

She, you mentioned going out of town for several weeks your postings have been most enlightening if we are not still here when you return, thanks so very much and have a great life.

Billly, I checked out your writers site, but never could find what you were referring to?  Found it awkward moving around, maybe I did not follow your directions correctly. Mid City Mike said he signed up

Every good thing has to come to an end, I have enjoyed communication with all of you, but since I do not know how they end these threads, I felt the need to say thanks now! Been a great ride, I have learned a lot and enjoyed it at the same time.

Fish Balls

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By Shenonymous, July 12, 2007 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City – you crack me up, I never thought I could love a phantom cyberguy.  But you give my J a run for his… well, not money, but let’s say moral fiber??? J’s a good guy and loves my sense of humor among other things. (Yeah, he once said it, he loved me for my mind, I literally fell over laughing and that was the start of us)  Of all the Christians I have ever known, you be da best. No, no summer classes! I needed a break, and we are going to Greece in about a week for three weeks.  Land of my mother’s ancestors (and mine).  My Art History Ph.D. dissertation was not on Greek Art, but I was there about 10 years ago to do some research.  It is a beautiful country.  Course Athens is smog city of the world. The poor Parthenon is slowly being etched from the pollution. Won’t spend much time there. Then it’s home again home again jiggety jog to prep fall syllabi.  I’m diabetic too.  It’s a bitch. But I have improved over the years instead of going the other direction. Diet and exercise. Sorry about the pacemaker stuff, but glad they came up with the technology too.  My uncle Theo has a biventricular pacemaker.  With his medications he can walk a lot farther than he used to, which is really good. Of course, a low salt or salt-free diet goes along with cardiac care and he has to stay away from microwave ovens and iPods. 

Billy – yeah…sigh.

Hemi – you are a Buddha!  Flan is sooooooooooooo gooooooooood (but I can’t eat too much, too much sugar, oh well).  Wife must be Guan Shi Yin.  Guan means to observe, Shi means the world, Yin means sounds – Guan Yin then is the female bodhisattva who is a compassionate being who responds to the people in the world who cry out for help

Happiness…
Almond Cookies

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By Hemi*, July 12, 2007 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

Re: #86351 by Shenonymous

“The list of abuses and atrocities toward women in all religions has been incalculable.  And the abusers and the perpetrators of atrocities have been men. What say you all?  How evolved are you? I ask you in the collective sense, no one in particular. No one on this thread abuses women, right?” - Shenonymous

I was fortunate that my parents encouraged my sisters in athletics that were just becoming widely available to young women in the 1960’s. A girl on the little league team was unthinkable then. Now it’s rather common. My sisters played softball and volley ball and my parents enthusiasm for them rubbed off on us all. You had a lot of parents in our town that still held to that’s not lady-like, that’s boyish, boys wont like you and all that crap. My folks’ vibe helped me balance all the machismo input rampant in society at that time.

My wife grew up very girlish. Her parents were immigrants and in their culture girls did womanly things and boys did manly things. They weren’t zealots about it but they spent most of their efforts while she was in her school years just getting by in a new country. Helping their daughter integrate into the new feminism of the 60’s and 70’s was way down their priority list.

Over the years I’ve introduced her to sports and outdoor activities she never had access to growing up. I can’t say I did that just for her, it was mostly for me. I simply prefer her company to anyone else. She’s humoured me and we do most things together. She has a strong personality and she helps me keep my male tendencies in check. If that makes sense, I’ve had good people around me.

I don’t think that I was ever capable of “abusing women” in the physical sense. But I have to think that without the people I’ve had in my life the possibility of growing into a machismo jerk was there. With that attitude in place and simply projected toward women, so many subtle yet lasting abuses are possible.

Flan

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By Shenonymous, July 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm Link to this comment

We noted the Poop’s new plan of returning the liturgy to Latin a few days ago, see #85023. The Catholics are losing umpteen (or Leefeller’s unteen*) thousands of members so it’s been reported on NPR recently. They have so much invested in stocks/bonds/real estate/gems/precious metals that they have to have a constituency enough to keep their investments subsidized, and oh yeah, and to pay for their millions of dollars pedophile and sexual harassment of young girls lawsuits. You are right Leefeller, what better way to keep members locked in than by re-abstrusifying (yes, I know, I made that word up but it works!) the arcane Mass so that the mindless devotees will ‘feel’ the presence of the invisible trinity (or as Matt Damon would say, the invisible trifecta)?  And the Catholic women!? They must be a forgotten race. They have been so indoctrinated, so enslaved for so many centuries that they cannot even slightly entertain the notion that they could even question their position in the church, which is something less than the vermin that inhabit the wine cellars. It is truly pathetic. I hope no woman ever wants to be the Poop.

As for the Muslim women? They are as medieval as the Catholic women, except they are publicly physically abused, whereas the Catholic women are publicly mentally abused. 

The list of abuses and atrocities toward women in all religions has been incalculable.  And the abusers and the perpetrators of atrocities have been men. What say you all?  How evolved are you? I ask you in the collective sense, no one in particular. No one on this thread abuses women, right?  Oh yeah, Fadel does.

If religion were to vanish today, I think it would take generations to purge the criminal behavior that is almost genetic by now.  I say almost, because I don’t think science has found that DNA code yet.  Maybe that will be the only way to scour it out. To actively change human DNA (-Michael’s biological solution might take too long).

Religion as a tool? Well let’s see, the NRA said that guns don’t kill, only men kill.  I guess poison doesn’t kill either, and that only poisoners kill.  Follow the logic.  If only men use guns, and using guns can kill, then guns can kill from their use by men; likewise, if only men(women too) practice religion that poisons, then religion used by men can…  You can finish the syllogism.  So what if religion, or guns, or poison are used as tools? The end result is the same.

*As I’ve said before, I love Leefeller’s Land of Un. I use it whenever I can – Efcharissto! (That is ‘thank you’ in Greek!)

Boston Crème Pie – you’re such a party pooper –Michael

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By -Michael, July 12, 2007 at 11:52 am Link to this comment

Re:  #86248 by Leefeller on 7/12 at 9:07 am

Re:  “is it possible that religion is only a tool, a weapon the sword for mans intolerance to man not the poison itself? “
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I would say definitively that religion is a tool.  “Only a tool” rather understates the significant effect of this instrument, however.  Religion is an awesome, almost perfect tool.  Nationalism, ethnocentrism, and all the other ‘isms’ don’t hold a candle to the persuasive power of a perceived god.  It begets profound consequences, especially if the affected person relies on their clergy’s interpretation of ‘god’s doctrine’ rather than reason. 

But if religion were to vanish tomorrow, the root of malevolence would remain intact.  We can get it right or fuck it up - regardless of our beliefs.  The seven sins will persist until we evolve culturally, and (just a guess) biologically. 

This is evidenced by the gluttonous sign-offs in this very forum.

Hot fudge Sundae   - Michael

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By Leefeller, July 12, 2007 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Billy,

Very presumptuous of me, was not even thinking about respect, instead I was focusing on the minded mind and attempting to be amusing.  You are correct the amusement was not worthy. My apologies.

It may have been a not so famous prop-fit that said “Everyone is an arse hole, unless they prove otherwise”. 

Old road kill burgers

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By Leefeller, July 12, 2007 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

After reading Rob’s comments of abuse toward atheists, Fedulia’s rants on this post to the infidel nonbelievers and blatant abuse to a woman “She” plus add up all the other news of intolerance sponsored by religion from around the world, this I am becoming wary.

Hitchens proclamation that “Religion poisons everything” may be close, but since absolutisms require more stringent verification, I will agree with a slight change by saying “almost everything”.  My knowledge of religion had been quite minimal until the moslems became a media success with their proclamation to hunt down and kill an author of a book, their attack on a cartoon, killing of a movie director and many other forms of offensive behavior.  My knowledge of other religions is even less then the two I writeabout below, someone else can fill in the gaps. 

Let’s start with the Pope and the Catholic church .  Just the other day Pope made his decree of intolerance (one of many)  Only the church is right and all the other Christian religions are going to hell.  Latin is a nice language and will be reinstated during services, this provides a nice sing song flavor to sermons, but does not help the masses comprehend the incomprehensible fables with any degree of accuracy, as if that were possible.  What better way to keep the flock ignorant.  Catholic intolerance to women is a given, when do we expect to see a women pope?

Moslem abuses toward women is even more painful, especially when they stone them to death or worse for wearing western clothes. (Not cowgirl clothes)  The bee keeper outfits moslem women are forced to wear are quaint but only prove servitude.  Female circumcision instilled by a religion is the most hideous of crimes. An endless list of abuses and atrocities by a religion of intolerance goes on. 

Both religions have decrees of intolerance toward non believers. Hitchen’s may be correct when he asks this about religions, “Is it not obvious to all, say the pious that religious authority is paramount, and that those who decline to recognize it have forfeited their right to exist?

My question,  is it possible that religion is only a tool, a weapon the sword for mans intolerance to man not the poison itself?

Piece
Banana cream pie

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By 3legcat, July 12, 2007 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

she,

“...but between proof of a mind and proof of a god.”

‘course it depends on one’s definitions, if your definitions include either doing anything, then it is verifiable, provable. do either god or mind do anything?

absurd aphorism

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By Leefeller, July 11, 2007 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment

Manners have to be “minded” in certain situations, this may be true even for Billy.  Brain washed not “mind” washed.  why not? 
When people claim insanity, is that the same as losing ones mind?  All reason is gone, abstract thought is not available, common sense in hiding.  A linch mob seems to have lost it’s collective “minds”.  Anyway there are many little sayings relative to the “mind”.  “I think theirfore I am”?  Da cart before the horse.

Let’s reverse this and go to the proof of god.  One person stated on this thread that he was going to get back to us with the proof of god, now if he can do that, we may have proof of the mind.

How about this, we say the mind does not exist, we can stick the mind with the UFO stories.

Road apples

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By Hemi*, July 11, 2007 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

Re: #85971 by Shenonymous

I thought Lefty had (unwittingly) described our president with those two paragraphs.  Americans having seemingly no remedy for him still being at the helm gives the terrorists not only an opportunity for victory but a compelling raison d’ être. I know, a little out of left field.

Kracker Jacks

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2007 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

And what empiric evidence is that, Lefty?  You don’t read very carefully, the comparison was not between losing one’s mind and perceiving the existence of god, but between proof of a mind and proof of a god.

But no matter, sloppy thinking aside, if someone reports they have lost their mind, I don’t know about you but I’ve heard some people say that, all I’m asking is that if we cannot verify such a thing as a mind, then what is it they claim they have lost?  Is this getting too labyrinth-like for you?

Terrorists only seem to win, if they indeed do, ha!  It’s only temporary and very small victories for the mindless ones.  Unless, of course, you want to include the murderous Christians, Muslims, and Jews throughout history???  But their wars are still going on after several millennia and no one has won yet!  It reminds me of a StarTrek episode where Kirk’s good side meets his evil side and they battle for eternity. Can anything like that be called winning?

Fruitcake

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By Hemi*, July 11, 2007 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

“It seems to me that the person who has lost their mind is not necessarily the one able to determine it’s been lost, and not likely to expressly report it lost.  Rather, others whose perceptions are generally uniform, yet irroconcilable with the one whose mind is lost, can observe that the one with the lost mind’s perceptions have deviated from the norm.

Further, I don’t see a connection between loosing one’s mind and “faith” in god.  If one truly perceives manifestations of the existence of god, then there is no room for faith.  That person has empiric evidence, and therefore knows that god exists, yet, would probably be among those of whom it can be said has lost his mind.” - Lefty

Now that’s why the terrorists win!

All day suckers

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2007 at 10:37 am Link to this comment

So Billy, what do you think that reason was?  Just make sure they don’t pike on the vodka, and ah never never eat Little Lambsy Divy (even tho it’s a Greek thang ta do) just eat lotsa Chicken Little and Nemo, but oh, those are other stories for another time.

And why wasn’t mother Mary there? Maybe she was the cook?

Baklavah

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2007 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, are you saying the mind is not an absolute thang? And that when someone reports they have lost it, they are just prevaricating.  So you are saying that this thang called the mind is a chimera and that we just thought it up? Hmmm what is it that thought it up?  Too deep, yeah.  Sort of like this thang called gawd?  We ought not to believe, uh ‘think’ for Rob’s sake, there is a mind either.  It’s a riddle since it’s ridiculous to say we do or do not think there is a mind. For if we do, we ought to say what it is, and if we don’t, well there you go…..

Oh yes, bagels and cream cheese, and lox

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2007 at 9:57 am Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City – pushing your “really really big question,” if you really really are interested and want to give up some of those sun-burning rays in San Diego, you might do a google search on the Higgs particle and the concept of emergence of how once these Higgs particles stick together form the mass of the stuff around us. Course Higgs are only theoretical at the moment and are awaiting that big LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN in 2008 to finally get built to get discovered, ya know, sort of like Michelangelo releasing the form from the marble.

Don’t you ever wonder what Jesus would think of science today? Do you think he even ever thought about it way back when?  And what do Christian’s do with the holy ghost?  Ya hardly ever hear about that third hand of god.  Verrrrry interrrresting.

Gefilte fish

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By Leefeller, July 11, 2007 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

She,

Mind cannot be exact, since I prefer to shy away from absolutisms like religion.  (of course I am using one here, when I say cannot be exact) If we look at the mind as pools of water some are quite shallow and some are very deep. We may never see or know the bottom in the deep pools.  We can stand in the shallow pools and see every detail of the mind, read it like a book.  We may never lose our minds, just never understand them.  Interesting, the mind as the chicken and the egg!  Mind is too deep for me, haveing lost my rubber duckie I tend to use the shallow approach and in some cases make sure to have my boots just in case.

Forgot to close out my last post, so here is
two kumquats and a bagel

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By Shenonymous, July 11, 2007 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

What exactly is the mind?  Can you really lose it?  If you say yes, then if it does get lost, what is it that would be doing the reporting? If you say no, then a distinction can be made between mind and no mind such that a losing situation can never actually occur. So then back to the first question: what exactly is the mind?

Chicken foot perloo

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By Leefeller, July 11, 2007 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

It will be a shock when the time comes and the presumptions and the I told you sos prove to not be.  The believers of the world and fence sitters finally get their calling.

My vision proclaims to be off a bit this morning and this is only for the eyes of my pookia friends, I will proclaim this be the truth or the surmise of the day.  When the time comes, all the believers of all the religions in the world will be on the road to their selected eternity.  The paths or roads will be packed, most of the believers will be walking, only the Americans will have cars.  On the road to eternity their will be some gas stations, but they do not take credit cards, so the Americans have a problem. 

Bush instructed Air Force One to Fly to eternity, but it turned out the Pilot was an agnostic and he refused to take off.  The pilot wanted to sit on the fence with the other agnostics.  Bush called the pope to see if he could catch a ride, but found out the Pope had a head start.  Along the road to eternity the many different religions joined the procession, the Moslems had a huge advantage over the Christians, because of their experiences in trampling people during their annual pilgrimages. 

Along the road to eternity a long fence of people popsicles.  The road and the fence goes on for ever.  Along the road we find an abandoned pope mobile, empty cars,  some on fire.  Death becomes common place on the road to eternity.  Fence sitters become less and less and the road does not end but becomes
empty.

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By -Michael, July 11, 2007 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Re:  #85722 by Leefeller on 7/10 at 3:43 pm

Re:  “Why do we not surmise this.  When the time comes, the great lord (if he exists) lets all the atheists go onto the Emerald City, while you get to stay in Kansas with your F.”
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
I’m ok with this.  I’ve never been to Kansas, but it sounds uncomplicated and serene.  I yearn to lay my head in Auntie Em’s ample bosom.
 
Conversely, Oz seems like a LSD trip (can’t relate to poppy-based products).  Cool for a while, but not maintainable (lest you loose your mind).  Plus, I’m very suspicious of those Munchkins and their lollipop guild.  I have it on good authority that the following malevolent organizations have since grown out of the Land of Oz (compiled by Lore Sjöberg):

The Cotton Candy Mafia
The National Association for the Advancement of Circus Peanuts
The Fudge Packers Union
The Church of Satan and Also Candy Apples
The Praline Liberation Organization
The Bureau of Licorice, Gumdrops and Firearms
The Committee to Beat Hell Out of the Oompa-Loompas

There’s no place like home   - Michael

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By Hemi*, July 10, 2007 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

Re: #85691 by Shenonymous

“If I recall correctly, Hemi gave an account of (her ?) experiences of being an atheist in the context of the family, and so did I.” - She

Thank you She. It’s nice to think that what I have been writing here is not perceived as gender biased. Not that I’ve made any effort toward that, ask Michael. But last time I checked, I was a guy. Let’s see…………….. takes just a minute…………….where’d that go now………….I had it in the shower ………
wait…....................there it is….................yep, ‘still a guy!

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

Malted Milk Balls

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By Leefeller, July 10, 2007 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

Michael,

Why do we not surmise this.  When the time comes, the great lord (if he exists) lets all the atheists go onto the Emerald City, while you get to stay in Kansas with your F.

Sorry, I could not resist the temptation,  the drivel made me do it!

Sushi for you but not for me

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By Rob, July 10, 2007 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

She,
I should have said, “The mind is a dangerous playground, don’t go there alone.”

This is the height of an allegory.  When children play alone at a playground, there is a tendency for mischief and accidental harm and anything else that happens to unsupervised play.  Conversations with oneself can lead to solutions and answers and unvetted positions.  Don’t we have to monitor what we think sometimes, not for others, but just to keep an even keel within ourselves?
For brief moments, unbridled creative thought can come out of solitude.  But more often, doesn’t one-sidedness, self-rightiousness, and dogma prevail?
This forum is a great example of a full playground.  I think we are all drawn to it because of all the kids at the swings.

Thanks for the comment Leefeller!

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By -Michael, July 10, 2007 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #85647 by Shenonymous on 7/10 at 12:11 pm

She:

There is a distinct possibility that my philosophy 101 class I took 15 years ago is not sufficient to perpetuate an efficient post-graduate-level philosophic argument.  I’m doing my best.

So if I hadn’t presented a logical argument, I’ll give it another shot.

The premise of agnostics being pussys and hedging their bets rests on the assumption that we believe that (if He exists) a god will give us some brownie points for not definitively rejecting Him. 

It is not reasonable to surmise that a benevolent god (if He exists) would give an agnostic any more points than he would an atheist (or a theist, for that matter).  I ain’t betting on a damn thing.

Furthermore, Pascal’s wager falls flat on its face when it assumes that people can turn on faith like a light switch.  As far as I know, all agnostics are devoid of faith.  And you can’t half-ass believe in god.  Than being said, believing in god and unequivocally rejecting the possibility of Him are not our only options.  We simply have no direct knowledge of the existence of God.  Despite these doubts, there are some lingering matters that point to His possible existence. 

This is a pretty weak analogy, but I’ll give it a shot. 

We don’t have comprehensive knowledge of what really happened to the towers on 9/11.  Conflicting information flourishes and critics from both sides have worked themselves into a tizzy. 
I personally think that that getting more than 30 specialized Americans (a number extracted from my anus) to agree to assist in the destruction of the twin towers, killing an unspeakable number of fellow countrymen, borders on the unreal.  I also point to the Popular Mechanics exposé. 
So I pretty much know that we didn’t blow up our own people (in this instance), yet there is enough interesting information out there to not dismiss entirely. 

I’ve never spent this long defending myself from being called a pussy.  Then again, I can only recall one other instance in my lifetime.  I just punched the dude in the nose.  Less time consuming, but every pussy-accusation requires a different measure.

Hope I raised my “F”    - Michael

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By Leefeller, July 10, 2007 at 3:38 pm Link to this comment

Rob,
Interesting that you mentioned the Marine Corps dog- tag religion thing. You jogged me old memory.  My association with religion, was minimal while growing up.  A school friend invited me to a church but I never joined the club.  So when asked by the dog- tag guy,  what my religion was, I wanted to say “antagonistic”, but instead said “perspiration”. 

The religion’s must have supported the war, never heard them say otherwise. Maybe folks of religion, believe Athiests would be afraid of dieing, because they do not have 70 vegains waiting for them.  Though, I do not remember anyone getting beaten up, but I was on the west coast in 1967, I was lucky and never made it to Paris Island. 

I know, your just a kidder, with a mind running wild, negativity to atheists can not be real, look at the levity and mirth posted by the likes of Fadel. 

Rob thanks for sharing, you answered some very important questions for me.

Don’t pinch those

Crabcakes

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2007 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

Meticulous is my last name:  Shenonymous Meticulous – I got tired of stepping in cowshit a long time ago.
Well, on this thread, Rob, I feel like I am among the sharpest of colleagues or graduate students at the least! All that notwithstanding the thread is so long that some amnesia occurs about what has been said before. Or for the new arrivals they have never even visited the early comments. That is all right to me as I am used to repeating repeating repeating for students (it’s a long joke among us faculty that you need to repeat things eight times before students really learn a thing, not that I think of any of you as students, as I just said colleagues or those in graduate studies, who always teach as part of their program, so they are junior colleagues, blah blah blah).  So much for my opinion of those in this forum, oh except for Fadel, the quasi professor at John Hopkins, who seems to have disappeared of the face of the earth, too bad as I rather enjoyed his preposterosity.  I have learned much from you all, there are some terrific minds that dwell here, and I have enjoyed the debates, polemics, arguments, challenges, squabbles, bickering, tongue-in-cheek, nitpicking, and agreements, and especially the unbelievable high humor, all of it.  I think Hitchens is missing a lot.  So all right. Instead of belief, I am happy to substitute it with the word ‘think.”  That you found the mind a dangerous place to go alone is a rather cryptic thing to say.  Would you explain what you mean?  I find I often have to get away from others in order to think in an orderly way.  If I recall correctly, Hemi gave an account of (her ?) experiences of being an atheist in the context of the family, and so did I. It is a difficult thing when in the world there are astronomical numbers of believers, I direct you to the following website for an estimate of the number of religious adherents (of all faiths):

http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

notice that only 16% of the entire world population are nonreligious.  Many millions of people have been persecuted, mulitlated, and killed in the name of religion (ad majorem Dei gloriam), it is wicked and deplorable.  The life of mind is a dangerous place whether alone or in the company of others. So Hitchen’s has an argument a fortiori

I’m off to Leefeller’s Land of Un, Unpity, unp, unp, unp…(It’s a bit hard to say but no one said life was going to be easy). Here’s to Dionysius the drunk

And Lemon sours

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By Rob, July 10, 2007 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

She,

Once again you are very meticulous.  Words have to be parsed on this site.

I do not ‘believe’ in atheism! I do not ‘believe’ in cynicism!  I ‘think’ these things have legitimate weight.  Until I ‘think’ differently, I will support this position.  Having lived as an atheist all my life, I have experienced the price for being an atheist.  It happened when I was at Paris Island in the Marine Corp during the Vietnam war. I was beaten for saying to the dog-tag maker that I was an Atheist.  He was instructed to put a “B” on the set of tags.  For Baptist, I suppose.  I have been fired from a job because I was an atheist.  I have endured insults and threats and alienation from loved ones for my stance.  I have real world experience what being an atheist entails.  Its not just something I read.  Its not just mechanistic metaphors (sounds a little impersonal). I do think mechanical explanations are capable of complete explanation by the laws of physics and chemistry.

The thought that I ‘believe’ that I don’t have a belief in the possibility of a god is contradictory to me.  Being a teacher, I am sure that being right about all things is important to you. I would be one of those students that would be like you are.  I would challenge everything you said.  I would not like to be a teacher of philosophy.  I have been a lecturer in the horticulture disciplines at a State University and plants defy submission to our understanding of them.  It does not mean that there is no explanation, it’s just that we don’t know of it, yet. 

Maybe, saying that life balances itself out was not articulate enough.  People in Nazi deathcamps found some joy in song even as they were marched to the gas chambers.  People in Darfur find some humanity in their horrible existance. They continue to have children even in such injustice.  I say this because I know that some people even smile as they are dying.

Thank you for your comments.  They expand my mind.  I feel that I will owe you for
these mini-classes you are giving all of us.

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By Hemi*, July 10, 2007 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City, no but I can understand the confusion.

When I first signed up here there was a slight glitch that made me add the * in order to sign on. That explains the *. Now for Hemi. I am not a “Dodge man” but I am a long time fan of James William Buffett, I am a “Parrothead”. (That little tid bit should make all camps abandon me like I was Typhoid Mary.)

To make a short story long, Jimmy Buffett used a seaplane for roughly 15 years to travel between concert venues and around the world. That plane was a Grumman Albatross flying boat for the officianados. The Albatross was used by the U.S. Navy for search and rescue missions for about 20 years starting in 1955. Jimmy bought and restored an Albatross in the early 90’s and it has been recently retired. This is the plane that was shot by Jamaican police and that story is preserved in somewhat embelished form in Jimmy’s song Jamaica Mistaica. (Jimmy, Bono and Island Records producer Chris Blackwell island hopping for jerked chicken. How’s that for a carbon footprint?) The plane is also at the heart of his best selling travelogue “A Pirate Looks At Fifty”. The plane is now in drydock outside his Margaritaville restaurant in Orlando, FL.

I’ve seen the plane in Orlando as well as up close on a runway in Virginia. I’ve seen the repaired bullet holes and I’ve also seen the plane in the air 4 or 5 times. Jimmy made a practice of buzzing the crowds tailgating in stadium parking lots as he arrived for shows. It was a treat to see this lumbering prop plane fly. It brought to mind images of exploring Africa, South America or the Pacific Islands in the last century.

Jimmy named the plane “Hemisphere Dancer”. My Parrothead friends think I’m a bit “flighty” and call me “Hemi” for short. I could have cut to the chase but what fun is that?

There you are Mike, a classic case of too much information.

Margarita (salted rim)

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2007 at 1:11 pm Link to this comment

-Michael, sorry that was too fast… You did not illustrate anything, you just think you did.  Seems like you are the one to biff bam thank you mam.  Anyway, students who present lucid arguments always get an A in my class, then we go and have a beer, and as Prof. Shenonymous I often deal with graduate students.  But if they nitpick like you, off to the dungeon of my Fs.  Maybe you have bells in your head, do you hear some ringing?  And is it possible you just don’t know how to argue either?

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2007 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

-Michael – I am not a betting woman at any rate (I don’t play poker, but I do play chess), Blaise’s decision theory is a hedge and atheists do not need the comfort zone.

Dry roasted peanuts and cranberries snack, ummmmmmmmmm

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By -Michael, July 10, 2007 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #85586 by Shenonymous on 7/10 at 8:46 am

I’ve illustrated that your inference to Pascal’s Wager is illogical in this situation.  I see that you’ve chosen to bail in lieu of a commensurate argument.

Is this how you deal with students who present a lucid argument?  Usually it is the undergrad that is saved by the bell, not the professor.

Shiny Apple   - Michael

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2007 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

Hemi* - is it your practice to bootleg other poster’s advice?
While the Peebles/Turner debate did not “solve” the puzzle of the nature of the universe, it did give a decent and accessible scientific description to the layperson.  That, however, was not the point I was making to MM-C. It was one suggestion on where to look for an answer to the apparent question he has. Aside from the supernatural explanation, there other non-scientific, and some more rational evidential cosmological descriptions. Try some of the following sites or search the theories for information if you are interested.  I didn’t put them in any preferential order, as I have none, they are all fascinating…

http://www.Nature.com/physics/

Gregory Hodowanec – Rhysmonic Cosmology – The Nature of Our Universe
Rexresearch.com

Cold fusion/hot fusion debate

Solid state physics/ fluid state physics

String theory

Phipps, Jr.’s “Do-It-Yourself Refutation of Modern Physics, -  Galilean Electrodynamics theory

Talbot’s Hologram theory of the Universe

The Brahman explanation

The Yin/Yang explanation

Yadayadayada…and Cherry Kool Aid

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By Hemi*, July 10, 2007 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City,

When we search for answers to questions regarding the origins of life and the universe, we generally encounter two types of sources.

The first type is one that can answer in a meaningful way. Giving you references to a 4-dimensional space-time continuum, the debate between Peebles and Turner and the Hong Kong University Department of Physics.

The second type of source can’t answer and throws you wise cracks.

I for one am firmly entrenched in the first camp. I am well versed in the great Peebles and Turner debate. The key information to understanding that debate is that David Soul played Peebles and Paul Michael Glaser had the neat car. You can look it up.

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.
Remember to tip your bartender and waitress.
Be sure to try the veal.
I’m available for lectures on the nature of the universe
as well as anniversaries, birthdays and bar mitzvahs.

After Dinner Mints

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By Shenonymous, July 10, 2007 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

For the crowd: as an appreciator of much of Aristotle, particularly his Efficient Cause…

Hemi* - thanks for the compliment. I am not in competition for Mike Mid-City’s whatever. But when I see a mind opening up, however teensy, I find it joyful.  I can’t help being smart.  It is memes, genes, beans, and dreams.  I don’t really care (and you know I’ve said that time and time again) whether one believes in a god or not.  But I do wonder since you were vague and sort of acting like a mercenary skirmisher where do we differ?

Rob – you do believe in your atheism, don’t you? Or your cynicism?  For your mechanistic metaphors for the universe I suggest you take a look at Rene Descartes, Thomas Hobbes (especially his Leviathan), Pierre Simon de Laplace, there are a few others but those noted are some of the biggies.  Your metaphor of the raft (for one’s travel in this life?) may be too nihilistic but since you said probably, it might not be…How does the world balance things out, simply because you may see “a little horror, a little joy?”  If you were an Iraqi maybe you would only see horror, or a Sudanese human life, unless you were a Janjaweed then you might be experiencing a little joy as you murder and rape your fellow human beings????  My comment on what might be “latent” beliefs come from the imprecise language you use.  This thread has evolved to where words become important. Which leads me to Fingal…

Actually Fingal, your research (or your report) is truncated…and I do believe you yourself equivocate, or nitpick.  While your point about the deliberate ambiguity in order to mislead or withhold information is a definition, other legitimate definitions are to use ambiguous or unclear expressions, usually to avoid commitment, or in order to mislead…notice the disjunctive ‘or” which means either definition may be used correctly. Other words would include hedge, prevaricate, evade, stall, dodge.  Taking the agnostic posture, the intentional ambiguity is, I submit, to oneself, as a sort of insurance policy, as is the hedging, and the dodging. You have certainly heard of “lying to oneself?” Agnosticism encompasses both the position of a believer and a nonbeliever.  As if the “I-don’t-really-know kind of wimpy answer” is some sort of salvation. The proverbial fence for which the pickets can stab one in the ass if one is not careful. And besides Billy will get you.

Leefeller, your mind is precious, are you and Billy brothers?

-Michael – you are dismissed.  You wouldn’t recognize a brain if one came into your space/time continuum.  Are you a solipsist? I guess we wouldn’t know if you were, but we might think so.  Oh, there is PeptoBismol. You can characterize your god as you want. You might read Dawkins “The God Delusion.”  Meatballs! now you are talking!


Ruuushhhan Borscht

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By Leefeller, July 10, 2007 at 8:41 am Link to this comment

Fingal,

Are you a bridge jumper?  What is your reason for being here? If you check my posts way back, I was leaning, then I jumped or as I call it,  stepped out of the dark closet.  Turned out to be only about two feet above the ground, because the lights came on. 

For me the Religious stories and myths never made any sense, but society and peer pressure and association tied me to the shackles of religion and “god”.  What is the game kids play?  “Telephone”, the bible reminds me of that game, where the story changes as it goes around the table and by the time it gets to you?  Add special and personal agenda to a written story and you get special guidance and direction.  Of course it is for your own good, they tell us so.

Fingal, you may not know this but Atheists do not care if you believe or not. But membership is almost full, this offer is limited, so you may never be allowed into the Golden Temple of Unreligion on top of the mighty mountain Umpity Ump.  Of course there is always the Temple of “Oz”

Orange sticks

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By Hemi*, July 10, 2007 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

“But were was it you said all this stuff we find around us comes from?” - MMC

Mike,

Who you gonna listen to, me or “Miss Smarty Pants”?

Smarties

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By -Michael, July 10, 2007 at 8:17 am Link to this comment

Re:  #85403 by Shenonymous on 7/09 at 3:31 pm

I’m a pussy and am hedging my bets.  Did you ponder this before putting pen to paper?  This is quite possibly the most thoughtless and ludicrous criticism I’ve seen here thus far. 
‘Pussy’ indicates that agnostics are scared.  Scared of what?  Scared of meeting my maker and having to explain why I didn’t believe in His existence?  Scared of being divinely smote during my ride on earth?  Hogwash. 
Allow me to presuppose the existence of a god.  If He were to ask me why I didn’t devote my life to worship, I would reply, “I had no reason to believe in you”.  If He were truly omniscient, He would know this to be true.  I would continue:  “Apparently I was wrong; how was I to know?  It would be inequitable to judge me for not having faith, for it twas you who givith me reason.  But judge me now, oh spaghetti monster, for my deeds are known to thee; I am not afraid.”  (Actually, considering my past transgressions, my sphincter might be a bit constricted.)

Do you think that I suppose that I’ll be given quarter beyond that which He gives an atheist?  Wouldn’t an omniscient being see through this folly?  Give me some credit she, for the love of meatballs. 

Peace   - Michael

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By Rob, July 9, 2007 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

She,

I think the cynic says there is a rational reason for each and every thing (causation) but the answer probably sucks.  Maybe the universe is just a giant calculating machine trying to answer some question? The thought that I might ‘believe’ anything is truly a painful thought that I have no use for. We are on a raft in the middle of the ocean at night and each of us will probably fall off ever so often.  No, wait a minute, that’s too nihilistic.  I see the world as it is and it trys to balance itself out - a little horror, a little joy.  I have no latent beliefs.  I have no answers.  I have joy and I have sorrow.  I have found that the mind is a dangerous place to go.  I don’t suggest going there alone.

I have taught myself to find purpose in life by grasping a little bit of it and making as good a memory as I can.  Do I protest too much?

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By Fingal, July 9, 2007 at 9:13 pm Link to this comment

The agnostic says definitely, “I’ll reserve my judgment because I do not know.” Not arrogant, just equivocating.

Not equivocating.  Princeton’s wordnet defines that as “be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead or withhold information.”  The agnostic, as you say, speaks definitely.  In the absence of definitive evidence, the scientific thing to do is definitely to reserve judgement.

The impetus for the prehistoric to accept without reasoned proof this or that explanation for phenomena they did not understand has been theorized by a myriad of investigators to name a few some of which have already been named by others in this forum: Boyce, Dawkins, Dennett, Jaynes, Wright, George Coe, Grant Allen, et al.  And they don’t quite agree with one another.  What do you make of that?

Not a lot.  The study of prehistoric thought tends to be speculative, pretty much by definition.

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By Fingal, July 9, 2007 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment

85479 by Billy the Dik on 7/09 at 7:29 pm

I think Free Association is a different thread. huhuhuh.

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By Shenonymous, July 9, 2007 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

Three with one blow (Olde English Fairytale)

Perhaps Fingal #85441 & 85444, but the visual cortex and visible light do not prove each other either. An inference is a species of conclusion, cognition of any experience requires some inference, sloppy or slickly clean,  What could be a cause of hasty generalization in the case of a tribal denizen?  Could that be a personality flaw? Or a family(tribal) teaching? Or just the way a fearful brain developed?  Whatever the case, then where did that come from? Is it meme or gene? The agnostic says definitely, “I’ll reserve my judgment because I do not know.” Not arrogant, just equivocating. The impetus for the prehistoric to accept without reasoned proof this or that explanation for phenomena they did not understand has been theorized by a myriad of investigators to name a few some of which have already been named by others in this forum: Boyce, Dawkins, Dennett, Jaynes, Wright, George Coe, Grant Allen, et al.  And they don’t quite agree with one another.  What do you make of that?

Rob #85447 you say you are a cynic yet you think science will disclose “the whole story.” That seems somewhat contradictory.  It might be strange for an atheist to even consider there is some sort of puzzle and that there are a finite number of pieces such that it will all make perfect sense.  Could the use of the adjective ‘perfect’ belie some sort of latent belief?

Mike Mid-City #85412- to try to address your big question – [sic] “But were was it you said all this stuff we find around us comes from?” There are several explanations:  Physicist, E. R. Eddington said something to the effect, “the stuff of the universe is mind stuff, literally all that exists is consciousness.” Is that true? What would you take as proof?  Einstein thought that time and space simply exists and do not come into or go out of being.  That what we experience as time is a meandering through the 4-dimensional space-time continuum.”  Canadian Physicist, Rafael Sorkin, argues that reality is dynamic, growing or becoming rather that statically existing.  What you are asking is a cosmology question and you might google that and ask what is the nature of the universe and look at the great debate between Peebles and Turner in 1998. Also a rather beautiful site is at http://www.physics.hku.hk/~nature/CD/regular_e/lectures/chap04.html
from the Hong Kong University Department of Physics
Once you can answer the question on the nature of the universe you can then answer your question of what is that stuff around us and how did it get here? I dare say Mike Mid-City you are making progress!

Baked Alaska

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By Hemi*, July 9, 2007 at 7:26 pm Link to this comment

Re: #85412 by Mike Mid-City


“I said the biggest miracle of Jesus was that he comes through at all.

But were was it you said all this stuff we find around us comes from?” - MMC

Home Depot Mike! They got Jesus there too!

Hot Tamales

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By Rob, July 9, 2007 at 6:55 pm Link to this comment

Fingal,

I don’t think the book was about establishing the existance or not of gods.  It seemed to me to be a scientific examination of the levers that cause us to ‘believe’ that something is going on in the universe that is beyond rational comprehension.  We are just starting to understand how the mind works, and with the help of computers, I think we will be able to understand things about ourselves that would take evolution way to long to show us.  Such visions without reason amounts to hallucinations.  I do ease into sometimes uncalled for broad generalizations. 

As a radical atheist, as compared to an atheist, I have given myself permission to not consider every belief I run into as highly probable.  I paint with a broad stroke in my final years.  The skeptic that I have been able to reason with has been replaced with the cynic.  That is unfortunate, but unlike the agnostic, I must reside in the house I have built.

And as for Science, I think we will one day know the whole story of what the hell is going on.  I wish I could be here for that moment.  I do not think I would be surprised to find out it all makes perfect sense.

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By Fingal, July 9, 2007 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

#85363 by Rob on 7/09 at 12:17 pm
Agnosticism is not the escape clause that it is commonly thought to be.  It is not the halfway house between theism and atheism.

I’ve never come across this “commonly thought” notion of atheism being an escape clause.  I know it must be easier to argue your point if you can convince the audience (and yourself) that they have to choose between your position and one that you can easily defeat.  Alas, the world of philosophical cases is not made of Lego, and doesn’t decompose as neatly.

(Halfway house?  Interesting metaphor—which postion is the house of correction where all the rehabilitees come from, the Theist or the A-Theist?)

Why should I declare either that I believe in “a god” or that I do not believe in a god?  You are claiming to disprove agnosticism by asserting that the position is dishonest, and it’s tempting to say read my lips: I do not know whether or not there is a god, and personally, I find it a bit arrogant to claim that one is in a position to know.  But I’ll resist that temptation, yes I will.

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By Fingal, July 9, 2007 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

#85218 by Rob on 7/08 at 7:49 pm
It is just about what makes us have looney tune ideas about a super person.  It is about why religion is about death and why templates in the sub-conscience devote one of the templates to imaginary gods.

I haven’t read that book, but I did read a review by someone who found it quite persuasive, and attempted in that spirit to convey what it was about.  Of course, the author may or may not have been well-served by the reviewer, but there did seem to be a significant loophole in the reasoning presented, viz: granting that there are mental processes with Darwinian, biological roots that mediate religious experience does not, as the reviewer seemed to be saying, compel the conclusion that religious experience is delusional, any more than establishing the existence of a visual cortex disproves the reality of visible light.

As for super-person ideas, that seems to me more like a simple case of sloppy inference.  If you grow up in a tribal society ruled by a patriarchal chieftain of some kind, you might be easily convinced, especially if you’re given to hasty generalization, that the Universe is similarly ruled.

And once you start imprinting these ideas into the minds of the young before they are able to think on their own, the outer form of tribal governance can morph over the centuries all kinds of ways, even into Liberal Democracy, and notions of Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin will persist almost unchanged.


  - sub-conscience
  + subconscious
</pedant-mode>

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By Fingal, July 9, 2007 at 5:40 pm Link to this comment

#85335 by Mike Mid-City on 7/09 at 9:36 am
I don’t believe in a red skinned horned devil, just people making selfish choices.

“Don’t ya know there ain’t no devil, that’s just God when he’s drunk”
  -Tom Waits

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By Shenonymous, July 9, 2007 at 4:31 pm Link to this comment

Rob your contributions to this form has been remarkable to read.  If you read all you say you have, then you are one of the ones who wants to be informed instead of one of those swallowing irrational doctrines,…. or one of the agnostically almosters.

I think agnostics are hed….gingggggg their bettttts.  Seems to me that sitting on the fence might put a dent in one’s arse.  Might need cosmic triage, but who, who, who will be the doc…tor?

It’s a pussy point of view.  Just suck it up and get over it -Michael!  I suggest the classic movie The Baron von Muchenhausen for entertainment and watch for the disembodied heads. 

Or Zardoz is fine too with the renegades and the apathetics (and that very young, virile Sean Connery, yikes) and the pursuit of everlasting life.  Main title music Beethoven’s 2nd movement of the seventh ain’t so bad either. Do you think this film was religious?

Corn on the (fence) ah, er, cob

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By -Michael, July 9, 2007 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #85363 by Rob on 7/09 at 12:17 pm

Re:  “The self-proclaimed agnostic must still designate whether he does or does not believe in a god.”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Must I?

There are only two things that are certain, death and taxis (and sometimes death by taxi). 

As I’ve said before, I live my life assuming there is no god(s).  I don’t discount the possibility.  The reason I retain this position is because of my aforementioned “why is there stuff” argument, and the absolute knowledge of the existence of god had by some believers.  My reasons for doubting his/her existence are too numerous to mention, but they include the standard arguments listed throughout this forum.

I believe that I (and everyone else) have the unalienable right to designate what ever the hell we want to as long as we aren’t hurting anyone.  This right of assignment includes, but is not limited to, sticking a feather in my hat and calling it…. 

Fettuccini   - Michael

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By Rob, July 9, 2007 at 2:45 pm Link to this comment

Thanks, She

I stand corrected on spelling.  Sometimes, I am unaware of name mutilations that I commit.  I hope it doesn’t detract too much from my conversation?

It is a wonderful thing for me to have an idea read by academics, philosophers, and professors.  What a great ride to hear books that I have read, analyzed.  One of the reasons for my discourse of ideas being hodge-podge is a lack of public performance.  One thing this post has created for me is an uninhibited flow of thinking about positions I have always had to have with myself.  I’ve had a fool for a teacher and have forgiven him.  He could only read for intellectual fun and it seemed reasonable to go where the jokes led.  I do not suffer from suggested improvements. God is a comedian standing before an audience too afraid to laugh.  Thank you Voltaire.

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By Shenonymous, July 9, 2007 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

I’m afraid co-posters TruthDig is not working quite right for me, or it’s me and again, yes…again, this may be a double post. It is mildly infuriating (an oxymoron). Anyway, if it is, please excuse once more…

Kumquats

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By Shenonymous, July 9, 2007 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller: Moses, schizoidic? most likely a good candidate, along with Mohammed, and the all the writers of the gospels as well.  We could go for the writers of the Rig Vedas and the Upanishads also.  As far as the UFOers, I think they are grossly insane.  I think they really like anal probes. 

Rob, if you are going to name illustrious thinkers, you might look up the correct spelling of Bertrand Russell, the great founder of analytic philosophy, or Descartes, the Cogito ergo sum chap.  FYI: My BA is in philosophy.  Boyer does not really theorize the origins of how that template arose to invent imaginary gods. He proposed that human instincts guides among other things the human tendency for religious beliefs.  He discusses the way inference systems work, and hypothesizes that common patterns in concepts appear to reflect a common set of inclinations shared by humans because they had developed the same inference systems. The problem is that inference concludes from information one already knows. Therefore, knowledge becomes a problem for the prehistoric. He also said certain concepts are more salient or prominent hence making certain concepts more likely to be remembered and handed down to descendents. All that notwithstanding, he does not explain why religious concepts are “more salient” concepts. The problem here is he claims that people believe in the supernatural because such concepts seem to be interesting and relevant implying that people are not capable of separating fact from fiction. Also implying that people are particularly gullible when it comes to the supernatural.  But if so, from whence does that gullibility come?  Could it be that the structure of human brains gave humans their irrational belief systems about superhuman powers?  Actually much of what Boyer says does not contradict what Jaynes was saying at all. They were on different paths of explanation. It doesn’t make either one completely right, nor completely wrong.  It should not be too surprising that professional envy fosters many criticisms among scientists as well as any other specialized field.  Boyer’s work is as you said somewhat inaccessible because one has to get through his specific and difficult terminology. Jaynes became somewhat of a superstar when his book came out.  Just its title alone is attractive to ordinary people. Some of Jaynes’ scholarship was dated but that doesn’t negate his entire theory. And Jaynes was a fabulous writer as well.  His ideas were too fantastic to the disarmed scientific community.  But even Dennett has come around although not completely embracing.  And Dawkins said he would hedge his bets over the veracity of Jaynes thesis. There doesn’t seem to be any big argument between what you or I have said about the idea that religion was in one way or another invented, by whatever means. It is a question not yet resolved.  I believe you are correct in your counsel that believers at least ought to try to acquire knowledge about their beliefs since there is such contradictory evidence in the world.  But I also believe it is futile for atheists to try to convince those zealots who think they are so spiritually impoverished that they must cling fanatically to incoherent religious assertions.  They prefer ignorance to validity.  They opine for the drama.

Kumquats

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By Shenonymous, July 9, 2007 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller: Moses, schizoidic? most likely a good candidate, along with Mohammed, and the all the writers of the gospels as well.  We could go for the writers of the Rig Vedas and the Upanishads also.  As far as the UFOers, I think they are grossly insane.  I think they just like anal probes. 

Rob, if you are going to name illustrious thinkers, you might look up the correct spelling of Bertrand Russell, the great founder of analytic philosophy, or Descartes, the Cogito ergo sum chap.  FYI: My BA is in philosophy.  Boyer does not really theorize the origins of how that template arose to invent imaginary gods. He proposed that human instincts guides among other things the human tendency for religious beliefs.  He discusses the way inference systems work, and hypothesizes that common patterns in concepts appear to reflect a common set of inclinations shared by humans because they had developed the same inference systems. The problem is that inference concludes from information one already knows. Therefore, knowledge becomes a problem for the prehistoric. He also said certain concepts are more salient or prominent hence making certain concepts more likely to be remembered and handed down to descendents. All that notwithstanding, he does not explain why religious concepts are “more salient” concepts. The problem here is he claims that people believe in the supernatural because such concepts seem to be interesting and relevant implying that people are not capable of separating fact from fiction. Also implying that people are particularly gullible when it comes to the supernatural.  But if so, from whence does that gullibility come?  Could it be that the structure of human brains gave humans their irrational belief systems about superhuman powers?  Actually much of what Boyer says does not contradict what Jaynes was saying at all. They were on different paths of explanation. It doesn’t make either one completely right, nor completely wrong.  It should not be too surprising that professional envy fosters many criticisms among scientists as well as any other specialized field.  Boyer’s work is as you said somewhat inaccessible because one has to get through his specific and difficult terminology. Jaynes became somewhat of a superstar when his book came out.  Just its title alone is attractive to ordinary people. Some of Jaynes’ scholarship was dated but that doesn’t negate his entire theory. And Jaynes was a fabulous writer as well.  His ideas were too fantastic to the disarmed scientific community.  But even Dennett has come around although not completely embracing.  And Dawkins said he would hedge his bets over the veracity of Jaynes thesis. There doesn’t seem to be any big argument between what you or I have said about the idea that religion was in one way or another invented, by whatever means. It is a question not yet resolved.  I believe you are correct in your counsel that believers at least ought to try to acquire knowledge about their beliefs since there is such contradictory evidence in the world.  But I also believe it is futile for atheists to try to convince those zealots who think they are so spiritually impoverished that they must cling fanatically to incoherent religious assertions.  They prefer ignorance to validity.  They love the theater, but even an atheist such as I does too. We simply, or rather complexly, interpret the scripta whole lot differently.

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By Rob, July 9, 2007 at 1:17 pm Link to this comment

Michael,
The self-proclaimed agnostic must still designate whether he does or does not believe in a god—and, in so doing, he commits himself to theism or he commits himself to atheism. But he does commit himself.  Agnosticism is not the escape clause that it is commonly thought to be.  It is not the halfway house between theism and atheism. Thank you, George Smith.

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By -Michael, July 9, 2007 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #85348 by Billy the Dik on 7/09 at 10:45 am

Billy:

Note that “i.e.” precedes “yes, I understand…”  This was an anecdote, an example.  For the 12th time – I am agnostic.  I don’t have faith.  A careful reader should have made this inference, but perhaps I should have put it in quotes in the interest of eschewing obfuscation. 

You will try in vain to prove me dishonest.

Hamster entrails   - Michael

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By Hemi*, July 9, 2007 at 11:59 am Link to this comment

I always loved the irony here:

“When Jesus rebuked Satan he was looking at Peter saying, “Get behind me Satan.”” - MMC

Is that the same Peter/Satan of “and upon this rock I will build my church” fame? “And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”, why would hell need to? Satan’s the “rock”! Constantine had poor editing skills. Oh, that’s right! Peter was only a man capable of both good and evil. That’s the parable. So Peter equals man. Man good and evil. Man in God’s image. God good and evil. What are you striving for? To be like God? Been there, done that.

The Bible is a ponderous, stupefying, inflammatory, conflicted pile of crap, substituting for “ouch that hurts, don’t do that” while posing as “and now a message from our sponsor”. Why shouldn’t “ouch that hurts, don’t do that” be enough? Oh yeah, hard to derive power and money off that.

Turkish Taffy

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By Hemi*, July 9, 2007 at 11:03 am Link to this comment

Re: #85335 by Mike Mid-City on 7/09 at 9:36 am

“It is a collective story of man’s search for God and Truth.” - Mike Mid-City

To be precise, it is Constantine’s “collective story”. The Jews, Christians, Gnostics, Romans,  Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and even Saul did not assemble this collection. Constantine did. One mans’ collection. Did God employ Constantine? Choose wisely!

Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat

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By Hemi*, July 9, 2007 at 10:51 am Link to this comment

For #85238 by Mike Mid-City

“The Catholic church was approved by a Roman Emperor, what can I say and what more need we say?” - MMC

What many people don’t understand is that most if not all of the modern Christian denominations (Are there modern Gnostic sects?) sprang from the Church of Constantine. So the hand of that Roman Emperor touches far more than modern Catholics. If the Roman Church was based on borrowed and corrupted tenets, even reform movements over the centuries did little effective correction. How can you find and refine the essence of something that was never there?

Milky Way (Frozen if possible)

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By Hemi*, July 9, 2007 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Lee,

“Actually, the old carny/wizard merely pointed out that Dorothy and crew had what they sought already within themselves.  He didn’t “give” them anything except a refocus from all and powerful gift-givers to their own hearts, minds, and homes.” - BTD

Billy summed it up crisply. That was the point I was attempting to get across to MMC. He had it all within him.

Lee I haven’t seen one with the Communist propaganda angle. I’m sure it’s out there though. I do know for certain a surprising number of people have analyzed the book and come up with unique takes on hidden meanings. One take was by a 1960’s high school economics teacher who saw Baum’s work as an allegory for the state of American politics circa 1896. The puffy chested Wizard was President William McKinley. The Wicked Witch represented the powerful banks and railroads of the era. The Tinman and Scarecrow are downtrodden steelworkers and farmers. And so on.

Another intiguing take, Indian-Hating in “The Wizard of Oz”, can be found here: http://www.counterpunch.org/stjohn06262004.html Another take, The Symbolism Hidden Within “THE WIZZARD of OZ can be found here: http://www.mayanmajix.com/art377.html  The list is endless.


Wikipedia has the following under the topic “Political interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a modernized fairy tale written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W.W. Denslow. It was first published in 1900, and has since been reprinted countless times, sometimes under the name The Wizard of Oz. Many scholars have interpreted the book as an allegory or metaphor for the political, economic and social events of America of the 1890s.

Both Baum and Denslow had been actively involved in politics in the 1890s. However, Baum never said that the original story was an allegory for politics, although he did not have occasion to deny the notion.

In fact, Baum himself states in his introduction to the book to have written The Wonderful Wizard of Oz “solely to please children of today”” – Wikipedia

The book has been analyzed many times from many angles. So you have Oz as parable for populism, OZ as political allegory and Oz as spiritual allegory. The broad yet well defined characters and images make for easy symbolic connections.

The movie we know, was released in 1939 with the book written in 1900. The movie has been linked to WWII in various analogies and political cartoons of the time despite the book having been written 4 decades earlier. One such cartoon equated the Tin Woodman to France, the Cowardly Lion to Great Britain, the Scarecrow to Poland, Dorothy to European Civilization, the Wicked Witch to Adolf Hitler, and a Winged Monkey to Benito Mussolini.

There’s a lot out there on the web. Great, heady, fun stuff.

Junior Mints

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By Leefeller, July 9, 2007 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Yesterday, a group of us got together under the great tree, a gathering of friends.  It was suggested to be a spiritual get together and potluck.  Being late, I missed the sermon from my friend the renegade pastor.  Our group included about 7 people, friends for several years.  Conversation, was informal and pleasant.  My filters and questions were ready,  sceptic, I asked many questions.

When conversation was directed to the bible, I asked who wrote it, “are you saying god wrote it”. The given answer, was man wrote it for god, something to that effect.  Defineing spirit became a question, I mentioned that I used spirits to clean my paint brushes. Big hesitation and a heavy pause, but then someone said what about booze? Booze is refered to as spirits,  a literal definition pursued.  Christianity was questioned by another in our group, “how about Buddhism, Muslim and Hindu, what makes christianity right and them wrong?” 


When I tell them about the kick ass River-Dance,  our friendship will be tested. It will be decided upon,  under the great tree, so be it.

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By -Michael, July 9, 2007 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Re:  #85137 by Billy the Dik on 7/08 at 1:43 pm

Billy,

Your point (if indeed you have one) is unsubstantiated and gratuitous (ergo useless).  Ordinarily I wouldn’t complain, but this one even lacked your rapier wit. 

Love, 

- Michael

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By -Michael, July 9, 2007 at 8:25 am Link to this comment

Re:  #85238 by Mike Mid-City on 7/08 at 9:08 pm

Bravo, Mike. 

I’ve been trying to convey the essence of your recent posts since my entrance.  Billy insists that I am confused; this was true a couple of years ago.  Through my struggles I have developed an understanding of the religious experience (and made a couple friends along the way).  Of course this understanding is somewhat superficial considering that I lack firsthand knowledge (faith), but I have been able to get the gist of it.  Billy, on the other hand, is so secure in his truth that he is loath to open even one of his squinting eyes. 

I’ve been run through the ringer, accused of everything from a coward to an idiot.  So since you seem to have more street-cred than me, I’m glad that you’ve illuminated this point. 

Peace - Michael

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By Leefeller, July 8, 2007 at 10:17 pm Link to this comment

#85081 by Hemi* on 7/08 at 11:28 am,

Hemi,

When I was in about the fifth grade, I was going though all the “Oz” books, but then they pulled them off the shelves?  As a youngster, I really enjoyed them, but did not know a conotation from a hulahoop.  Didn’t some of thoes in power, belive they were Communist propaganda?

Pineapple

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By Leefeller, July 8, 2007 at 9:57 pm Link to this comment

She,

So, this means,  Moses was possibly a schizophrenia candidate with a Bicameral Mind.  It also explains the alleged UFO Alien kidnap victims Anal probe stories. As always thanks for the enlightenment. 

Mars Bar

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By Rob, July 8, 2007 at 8:49 pm Link to this comment

There is a book available called “Religion Explained” by Pascal Boyer that deals with the evolutionary origins of religious thought.  It is actually a scientific look at why we humans seem intent on imaginary friends.  It is not about theists or atheists being right or wrong.  It is just about what makes us have looney tune ideas about a super person.  It is about why religion is about death and why templates in the sub-conscience devote one of the templates to imaginary gods.  It is not a necessarily “easy” read, thus eliminating any bible scribe, but it does offer insight into our obsession with someone greater than us.  It is Science on the march to peel back the layers of human folly and discover what ‘gene’ gave us such a horrible thought process held by 80% of people on this dying planet.
You know, as an atheist, I have read the bible, king james version, two times from start to finish.  I have read the koran once.  The point is I have read the total material used by believers to argue their points.  I have also read Voltaire, Descarte, Bradlaugh, Ingersol, Hume, Paine, Smith, Blackburn, Bertrain Russel, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and many other atheists.  Big deal?
Only from the point that I am quite sure the believers for the most part have not even read the bible, much less any other thing about religion.  And yet, I read the goobly gook that is written on this post by believers and am embarrassed for them.

If you believers are going to venture a thought about religion, how about a thought conceived from knowledge and not from revelation.  Revelation is not knowledge, but then knowledge has always been the biggest sin man can do.  It’s why adam and eve got kicked out of the garden, and the rest of humanity is paying to this day.  So, believers, because knowledge is a mortal sin to you, it is easy to see why your statements are devoid of any kind of reason.  Thank you Bertrain.

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2007 at 3:16 pm Link to this comment

Mike Mid-City – you are the exception.  I never include you in the group of hypocrites and I have said, clearly, there are the authentic theists.  You ought not to take every criticism so personally.  Ego centrism is one of the big problems in society today.  Get rid of it.  I do not know you except through this forum.  But from what you have said I think you are a terrific individual, now don’t go self-effacing your prison guard self because you got a compliment.  I’m not going to get gushy over you.  You have plenty of others to do it for me.  (and I said cat poop, not car poop…I mean, maybe it can pollute but how can a car poop?)


Philadelphia Cheese Cake

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2007 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

The Greek word schizophreneia, (meaning “split mind”) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental illness characterized by impairments in the perception or expression of reality, most commonly manifesting as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions or disorganized speech and thinking in the context of significant social or occupational dysfunction. Onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood. Diagnosis is based on the patient’s self-reported experiences and observed behavior. No laboratory test for schizophrenia exists.  The previous is from the British Journal of Psychiatry published in 1992.  If you require more citation just let me know.  While I believe schizophrenia is an illness that can be described medically, I believe that belief in the gods, or in the case of monism, one god, came to us here in 2007 from the cave.

I offer in evidence Julian Jaynes 1976 publication, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, wherein he proposed that until the beginning of historic times, schizophrenia or a similar condition was the normal state of human consciousness. This would take the form of a “bicameral mind” where a normal state of low affect, suitable for routine activities, would be interrupted in moments of crisis by “mysterious voices” giving instructions, which early people characterized as interventions from the gods. The common form of religion among prehistoric folx (thank you Billy), was shamanism.  If anyone has ever studied this early religion (still practiced today by some cultures), the shamans developed the skill to bring on and direct alter states of consciousness, that psychiatrists today name as illness. Historically, it is recorded that major religious figures have experienced psychoses, heard voices (ala George Bush although he is hardly a religious figure, but maybe he is???), and showed delusions of grandeur (oh yeah, another description of our deah prez).  Although there are critics in the field of psychology, Jaynes thesis of the vestiges of prehistoric mentality has its eminent supporters as well (I direct you to the website:
http:// http://www.accampbell.uklinux.net/essays/skeptic/jaynes.html 
Much has been studied on the evolution of religion.  What modern man (uh,specifically all you current believers), wants (yes, wants) to believe, because with the knowledge readily available, you choose to believe what you want.  It is just that, a choice. There is no longer a NEED for schizophrenic fears, or a NEED for divine assistance in order to live.  Evolution is a funny thing.  It doesn’t only happen in the body, but also in the way the brain functions.  Uh we no longer need the cuisine or condos of apes.  Have at it believers. I don’t care if you believe, or not.  There are many roads to Rome.

And wonderful dago red wine…

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By -Michael, July 8, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment

Re:  #85076 by Leefeller on 7/08 at 10:54 am

Perhaps ‘trump’ is the wrong word.  I didn’t mean to indicate that one was more worthy than the other.  I went through much wailing and gnashing of teeth before I learned that you just can’t fuck with transcendent experience.  The use of reason is unreasonable (note quantum physics reference).  You can’t reduce love to quarks and gluons. 

Its not reason over tales.  It’s absolute/direct knowledge in God v reasonable concepts.  i.e. Yes, I understand how people could have created god out of necessity.  And perhaps that is what some people have done.  But my personal relationship with god proves His existence. 

The only thing that you may honestly accuse these believers of is insanity.  This is difficult to do when every other aspect of his/her life is based in reason. 

Remember the Alamo   - Tebaldi

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By Hemi*, July 8, 2007 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

Mike MC,

Although no longer attending, I continue to belong to a Christian church. It is a community of well meaning people I’ve loved and been loved by for 45 years. These folks will raise money to house unwed mothers and their children. A fine thing. In the next breath they convince these impressionable young girls that having children without a means of support is preferable to the Lord rather than using birth control.

They do marvelous things with one hand and enslave the person they just saved with the other. The Biblical teachings such as go forth and multiply were dreamed up by “wise guys” when the Hebrew tribe needed youth to fill its’ army. Strength in numbers Mike. It’s a very primitive human concept, not otherworldly. Then later on came the Biblical institute of marriage. They tried to scare men into being responsible for their children. They had the same unwed mothers then that they do now. How does the community care for all the children? Scare daddy into doing the right thing or provide charity from the community. God didn’t mandate marriage, society did to keep family units together long enough to raise children into adulthood. (Sterilizing/castrating irresponsible dads would have violated their God given rights. Punishing women for their seeming transgressions, quite alright though.)

Those people never dreamed of the human suffering possible due to overpopulation. We don’t crack down on absentee fathers. The churches love this. How do you control thinking, responsible adults? Convince them to help the helpless. Keep them too busy to question the institute that continues to produce helpless people. “Let go, let God”.

She has reported that the Catholic Church is leaning toward Latin once again. Why? The less the people understand the more they can be told what their understanding should be. The people are thinking again due to the pedophilia scandal. People are questioning their beliefs. The Church don’t want that.

“The wizard? But nobody can see the great Oz, nobody’s *ever* seen the great Oz… even I’ve never seen him!” - Guardian of the Emerald City Gates

“Something with poison in it, but attractive to the eye, and soothing to the smell. Poppies… Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleep. Now they’ll sleep!” - The Wicked Witch

Wizard: Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. The Great, Powerful—has spoken—

Dorothy: Who are you?

Wizard: Well, I - I - I am the Great and Powerful - Wizard of Oz.

Dorothy: You are?

Wizard: Uh -

Dorothy: I don’t believe you!

Wizard: No, I’m afraid it’s true. There’s no other Wizard except me.

Scarecrow: You Humbug!

“Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.” - The Wizard

Always thought that was just for kids? The Emerald City isn’t heaven and the dusty Kansas farm isn’t quite hell and we deal with it. Or we can go back to sleep in the poopy poppy field. By the way “Papaver” is Latin for poppy. Mike, you sir are a “Good Deed Doer”. You always had the brains, courage and heart. Your senses were challenged by people in need (not want). You didn’t need any wizard (god) to bless you. You opened your heart to the people around you, you blessed yourself. Don’t go changing.

Dunkin’ Munchkins

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By Leefeller, July 8, 2007 at 11:54 am Link to this comment

Michael,
Interesting, that you state “my believer friends dont “need”  God, they love Him (and visa versa)” My post went on using the word “need”  at the same time. 

Your assertion of trumping is a type of self congratulatory not worthy.  You stated, Most believers have no problem understanding the logic; they just shrug and say, “That’s not why I believe in God”.“ Your argument supports and verifies reason over tales and old lore, the only difference is you use the word logic. 

Michael, keep the myths and stories if they make your comfortable, ignore reason, logic, abstract thought I will take them over blind acceptance any time.  Remember the River-dance. 

Have a

tall cool one! (not for the kids)

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2007 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

Oh, one more thing, before I’m off to the marketplace.  It was my ancestors, the Greeks, who said, Necessity was the mother of invention. So maybe the word necessity is better than need after all.  I wouldn’t want to dispute my wise ancestors.

Dolmadakias and feta cheese!

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2007 at 11:40 am Link to this comment

-Michael and they love to eat ants up the wazoo…
Well, I don’t beat my head against any wall at all.  I guess there are those who would love to think I and my cohorts do, but quite frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.  Damn not in the 4th sense, eternal punishment or condemnation to hell, since I believe in neither, but in the emphatic shit sense.

Insight takes a lot of work,  Leefeller was on to something when he said most people are lazy.  It is just easier to supplicate mindlessly to a deity.  Not that some are not charitable, as MM-C appears to be and we give him as much applause as he can carry.  I mean just look at Bon Jovi, Bono, Sting, and Al Gore!  Aren’t they all Christians?  Maybe not.

I don’t really really really care if the believers trump my admonishments.  It is their minds they have lost.  After posting I go about my life in the most delightful of ways.  Of course it will run its evolutionary course, I am part of the evolution, uh, revolution that is.  Life a bitch, then you die.

And if the ‘curious kid’ finds his/her way to this forum, let them scratch their head and wonder what the qualified hell is going on?  The can read 798 posts and find out.

I’m going shopping.  See ya later, amigos.

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2007 at 11:18 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, you may be right, but I think the word need has about 12 different but related definitions:  one of which is to be in need or want (the latter is the one you seem to like). Although it can be objective, it can also express stress.  It also means an obligation arising from the circumstances of a situation. While the word necessity is less informal and perhaps more objective it does not fit stress arising out of ignorance. My point was I believe that gods were invented by mankind in the cave to either explain phenomena they did not understand or to provide sustenance they were unable to hunt or gather, or placate the wrath of nature (a being responsible that exists on a higher plane. I suggest they needed to have some resource outside of their selves.  Do we quibble?  Ah, as Plato would say, ah er, Socrates, one needs to be word perfect.

Modern man may go to church for a number of reasons, the social enjoyment, the opulence, whatever, and while some may go for some after-death reward, I have found it is mainly to disguise their hypocrisy.

I prefer Kalahari rooibos tea.


MM-C, Mah deah Your Savable:  I don’t’ think the world is savable by humans.  The earth will do that itself.  I went to school on some scholarship and your dollars with student loans, which I am paying back and probably will do so for the rest of m’life, well worth every 9% interest penny.  My single mom hadn’t a dime for anything as extra as edjumacation.  I took care of her in her last 11 years of colorectal cancer life.  While I hated her cancer because it pained her so much, I loved her with all my heart and was happy to make her life as comfortable as I could.  What do I do for humanity? I teach. I give my students as much of a personal mind as I can. I help them to think beyond themselves.  I give of my time and what I can afford of money to other charities.  Your charity for your fellow humans is commendable, but Mike M-C you are not alone in these acts of kindness. I do not sneer at your or anyone else (well, except the Poop), I think you just like a fight. 

Tough toenails and strawberry shortcake

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By -Michael, July 8, 2007 at 11:01 am Link to this comment

•  Re:  #84950 by Shenonymous on 7/07 at 9:45 pm

She,

You have satisfactorily regurgitated some of problems that nonbelievers have with people of faith.  They are not particularly insightful. 

From what I understand from my believer friends, they don’t “need” God, they love Him (and vice versa). 
The problem with your remonstrations is that those pesky ‘transcendent experience’ always trump your reason-based challenges; it’s like beating your head up against the wall.  Most believers have no problem understanding the logic; they just shrug and say, “That’s not why I believe in God”.  Applying logic to faith is like applying quantum physics to love. 
From Dawkin’s memes to the Temporal Lobe Epilepsy hypothesis, folks have been trying to put their finger on this evasive subject.  From a realist point of view, I think you have to let it run its evolutionary course.  Otherwise you may wind up with a concussion.  And based on the assumption that no one has it all figured out, you just may be proven incorrect.

You may be able to expedite the process via fun and educational forums like these, although the curious kid who is exploring atheism might be confused by Billy’s antics, and these incomprehensible sign-offs.

Aardvarks have a tubular snout, and powerful digging claws   - Michael

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By Leefeller, July 8, 2007 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

At first I felt the word “need” to be incorrect in describing theists believing in god. I also felt they would call believing in god a given truth, not a “need”.  The word “need” would not even be in the ball park.  When I was young it was a given that Santa was going to come every December 25th, until I was told otherwise and Santa was not real.  However I did not need Santa because the gifts still came, though I missed the concept.

When people become lazy and their minds do not work, thought becomes a thing of the past, the the word “need” may come into play.  Facts are not necessary for a lazy mind, their filters hidden under the beer stained couch pads. (freedom of embellishment)

For example, if someone says “I need a new car”  does this mean they really need a new car?  No, they want a new car, the word “need” is interjected where “want” should be inserted.  In the case of a third world person who is living hand to mouth, when they say “I need some food”, they probably “need” some food, “need” is used correctly here because it is necessary for survival and to continue on the journey of existence.

Every Sunday, Christians “need” to go to church, because,  if they do not attend church, they will go to hell and become satins play thing.  Christians “need” to attend church, they want to go to heaven and do the happy dance with the lord. “Need” becomes a part of believing by association,  not to believe in god, some real bad things will happen to you.

Christians “need” to go to church because they want to go to heaven,  they have been told it is so.  “Need” is nothing more than an advertising scam, just like “needing” a new car.  My mind is drifting, I cannot expand on this, you lucky folks.

I “need” an
Expresso

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By Shenonymous, July 8, 2007 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

Well I wake up this morning to hear that the Poop wants to change the Catholic liturgy back to Latin.  Yeah, way to go Poop.  Make that religion inaccessible to the laity again so they don’t know, so they don’t know anything.  Keep it mysterious. They don’t know if the priest is saying anything religiously significant or just saying in Latin, “I hope some really nice boys come by,” or “Why don’t you all go fuck yourselves, so I can go shopping at WalMart.”  Those could sound really swell in Latin. Well maybe that is significant????

MM-C - #84936 I have appreciated your unwavering devotion because anyone who hangs on that fervently is either a fool or scared shitless.  I love fools best.  Now…MM-C I will have no surprise after I die.  I will only go back to the particles from whence I came.  My father’s sperm and my mothers uva will go by the wayside, dust to dust, etc. I am happy in the thought that I will return to the absolutely beautiful universe of my creation.  I will not know, nor hope, nor love, nor hate, nor want a thing.  Perhaps my particles will recombine in another human form, but I highly doubt it because of the fabulous randomness of the universe.  I will continue in this human form and find my Joseph Campbell’s bliss.  I am a happy individual and have many loves and hates in this current form. But… I am not attached to any of it. It could go in a nanosecond. 

Ka….booom – the new breakfast cereal for atheists

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2007 at 10:45 pm Link to this comment

Why the need to believe in a god? Needing a deity permits annulment of one’s own responsibility.  Unless one devotes their entire life to consecration and morality, then hypocrisy is difficult if not impossible to avoid. And tell me theists, tell me and the world you live a life of piety and morality. Ha, your bs stinks worse than cat poop.  The word god is rooted in the concept “to libate” which means to call on or to invoke.  If one were to invoke a god, unless they were madly just screaming about, they would be calling for something.  That implies human helplessness and ineffectuality.  It is much too easy to ask for cosmic help instead of seeing into the causes for one’s misery so that help can come from within or from one’s fellow earth travellers.  Reliance on a theos was appropriate for the cavedwellers who had not yet cognized their world and nature’s hostility to life. They could only think that help was other worldly. That an organism lives and evolves has been arduous at best, and adaptation has been essential.  Because the human lacks omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, perfect goodness, such a being had to be invented to make adaptation for life possible. Now that humankind has developed the power of self-reflection and criticism, it is time for them to become self-reliant and shed the stifling mantle of benevolence, to face the harshness of the world and one’s final mortality. We do not need miracles or divine intervention, even in the face of terrible disease or adversity from nature or the human race.  It is time to stop whining and take care of the world and ourselves ourself.

There is a fine Buddhist anecdote about a monk who upon asking his roshi if he had attained nirvana after years of a life of meditation on the koan Mu and much asceticism, the wise roshi answered, “you show traces of self-consciousness,” at which the monk immediately realizes his folly and attains nirvana, then goes on to have a productive and happy life among his fellow humans.

If you need theology, then you might ask yourself why you do and if you are truly one of your god’s children?  Oh, yeah, and look up the word ‘truly.’

I don’t know why but Billy’s crude but very humorous remarks are miles better than anyone else’s.  He’s da bomb!  Thanx Billy.

Pastitso!

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By Hemi*, July 7, 2007 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment

Re: #84764 by -Michael on 7/07 at 7:42 am

I don’t know how to respond to your list.

I have no position of authority. Unless you’re the young and impressionable mind here, I think we can all communicate freely. I’m not a teacher, just a career student. Now I’ve got youths jumping on the anti-theist bandwagon? The same youths I bored to suicide earlier in this thread? They’ll be out there sticking Darwin fishes on their cars and then it’s Kent State revisited! Oh the humanity! What hath Hemi wrought?

Let’s move on Michael, we’re wearing this out.

Carmel Creams

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By Tony Vodvarka, July 7, 2007 at 10:44 am Link to this comment

Could we not forget the role that CIVILITY plays in the interchange of ideas?  How about leaving the shock-jock crap to the bush heads?

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By Shenonymous, July 7, 2007 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

Check it out.  ‘Grease’ is a cognate of Christ.  Some say that Krishna the Hindu god and Christ is more than coincidental in the similarities not only of their names but in their lives: Krishna and Christ (in its human incarnation named Jesus) are said to have been shepherds, hoping to find a divine child, a king seeks and kills children in both of their stories, and both are killed with iron (Krishna an iron arrow, Chirst pierced with iron nails). This kind of correlation recalls Billy’s Zeitgeist the Movie. And how is it that Jesus hid himself so well that he had to be found? Beware of self-deception.  Whenever someone says they “found” Jesus it always sounds so bogus.  Look at GWB?  OMG!  Why hasn’t anyone questioned that werewolf about God telling him to go to war with Iraq?  Are believing humans so bloody gullible? Yuperdoo!

Doan mak no stinkin Brussel Sprouts pie! Right on MM-C
Gimme some rhubarb pie!

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By -Michael, July 7, 2007 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

Re:  #84602 by Hemi* on 7/06 at 2:36 pm

Hemi:

I want what every other conscientious secular humanist should want.

Respect, compassion, goodwill, trust in the basic goodness of mankind, and recognition of the propensity for man to reason AND believe in a god.  That is, he is no better or worse than you and me.  Equality. 

Theists have abandoned their mind?  They are brainwashed?  I see these comments spread throughout.  Your words carry responsibility.  Your positions of authority carry responsibility.  I can visualize a militant anti-theist movement spawning out of forums like these.  An impressionable young mind might not pick up on some of the nuances and dark humor infused in the conversation.  He might jump on a bandwagon you never intended on creating.  Your sense of duty for your students should not be forgotten in the classroom. 

Superior?  No, as I’ve mentioned before I am humbled by the vast amount of knowledge here. 

Kumba-mother-fucking-ya   - Michael

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