Category Archives: reason and logic

Politics

The closest thing to religion that we have going for us is politics. That may be because the church once ran the whole thing. Between the Jews, Catholics, and Protestants, they had a couple thousand years or more to set things up that way. Opinions are in the forefront; facts have no bearing on anything. People vote against their own best interests because they have been trained that way. Right-wing politics and the church are in collusion to influence how people choose from the time of their birth on. The church works to influence how people think so they will not lose their grip on humanity. I am not talking about the Catholic Church, I am talking about the whole of Christianity in the West, and Islam in the East. Church by any other name is still a church.

Humanity is just now waking up to facts. The fact that there are facts is still new to us, even after a couple hundred years of our being able to recognize them. In some aspects of our thinking, we still don’t recognize them and don’t grant them any importance. We have been trained to shun them, to deny reality, to insist without recognition that our imaginations rule. Politicians collude with religion to limit education wherever possible. In the deep south of the United States, the effect is the strongest. Wherever poverty rules, the effect is the strongest. In those areas, religion is the main source of any kind of knowledge. Knowledge that is about fairy tales and imaginary beings endangers those who have been trained to attach them to reality. What ever trouble finds them will be blamed on something else, never the root cause. The politicians and the religions will keep their clean hands with no one the wiser.

Humanity seems trapped in this scenario, as tightly as a vice could hold it. Religions will die and evolve, just as do people, only to be replaced by different-seeming varieties. They are, after all, created by people, as the saying goes, in our own image. That must be why, even in our fear of them, we so admire them for their despicableness. Even the most adaptable of humans, after all, must answer to nature in all ways. Does that mean that we, in our desire to maintain religion as a feature of our existence, must call nature God and train scientists to become priests?

What most influences your vote? Do you trust the god named God to look after its own interests while you take care of your own? Or, did you cast another vote against yourself without really knowing why? You have until the next election to think about this and decide if you have really made the best choices.

Rights

 

 

rightsr

Rights

Rights are just one of many similar things that bother the heads of atheists. They don’t really exist but we make them exist by agreeing to honor them. That’s why I tend to speak and write about such examples of quasi-reality in terms of persistence more than existence. This is very important to a full understanding of atheism and I shall have to pay strict attention to my wording from now on. Quasi-real “things” don’t exist in reality; they persist only for as long as some people find ways and reasons to support them. When their time runs out, most will leave on their own.

Use government for an example

Government, at various levels, and by agreements pounded out at the very beginning and since the beginning of the U.S.A., was granted the role of defender of our rights. Government also persists in that state of phantom reality, and so must be accepted by its intended constituents to gain its authority; or else, authority must be asserted by force as in the olden days. The quasi-real contrivances of mankind are so subject to manipulation people can hardly be blamed for qualms about trusting them. As time passes and manipulation progresses, watchful eyes lose their vigilance to age. As new generations come and go, tradition sets in and watchfulness becomes about the developing traditions. From early on, religion asserts itself and makes its presence known and rights become lost to the guise of public protection. Other influences work to promote special interests, greed, power struggles, all aiming to acquire undue advantage for some dishonest person or group.

Whether atheist or Christian, saint, sinner or “none of the above”, our rights are designated as equal. That means no person can claim rights denied to others nor deny to others any lawful rights others enjoy. It means no person can enforce a claim of elevated status due to religion or wealth. It means no person can be legally subjected to persecution for their religious beliefs or their perceived absence. At least, it once did.

We must learn to practice equality. It is not knowledge we possess at birth. We leave it to chance and hard experience, make innocent actions illegal by following a monotheist religion’s prescription or “just in case”. The poor results show throughout our American society, in crime, murder, imprisonment rates, stress rates and more. The precepts sound simple but we seem unable to get past our prejudices to make them work. That,“I will defend your right to practice your beliefs and you will defend mine”, “Your rights begin and end with you and mine begin and end with me,” plus “We will go beyond our differences to defend our families and territories against invaders.”

Another Example

The preachers and priests who contrived organized monotheism released upon the Earth an inevitable development in the evolution of religion. Monotheism, if you have forgotten (or never been informed) was built on the premise that only one god created, and rules, over the heavens and Earth.

Perhaps by accident, those who chose to describe the nature of this god as “immaterial”, albeit in rather dated language, chose the most appropriate term available. This 14th century word also, according to Merriam-Webster, applies to ghosts, spirits and other incorporeal specters, all of which require belief and acceptance in order to persist. Words not in use until relatively recent centuries will find their origins in apologia, where doctrines develop separately from the main guidebook formed by the scriptures regarded as sacred. Except for those scriptures, all else can be different between any two establishments.

Visit a Local Church

You can sense it upon entering the building. Some exude happiness. Some give such a sense of sorrow you need to cringe. Some, plain and simple in pastel colors, give no hint of what to expect. And then, never to be forgotten, there’s the church where you pushed the door open and jumped back, amazed to hear echoes of the minister’s last sermon ringing through the rafters. Though they all addressed their god by the same name, no two versions of the-god-named-God will be identical. Calling on them by the same name doesn’t make it right. That would have the same effect as naming multiple fraternal sisters all “Sarah” and making them figure out, each time you pray, whose name you don’t know this time.

What Does Any of This Have to do With Rights?

If this is at all true, preachers and priests have nothing to answer to beyond the members of their own congregations. They would be kept too busy tutoring their flocks about all the gods and demons, plus learning about new ones “discovered” locally and in nearby towns and cities. New gods get absorbed into the culture as do those from nearby.

Rights” and “freedom” are non-words in monotheism. “They represent blasphemy. They were planted in your mind by agents from Satan. They put you in danger of Hell fire. If we had been able to use our guillotine on Jefferson and his damnable cronies, you would not know to be lusting after such iniquitous pipe-dreams now.” “As you have already admitted in this blasphemous piece, individual rights do not exist. All rights are held by the church.”

I am sorry, but I have already asserted in this rather astute work of mine, that churches can only exist by the agreement of individuals. You will have to accept before that I will argue with you. Otherwise, you don’t understand it. Individuals have objective existence. Until individuals agree about it and provide an edifice or place, churches don’t.

 

Propaganda

propaganda

Propaganda

It was as true at the beginning as it is now. As demonstrated by the recent election, the best propaganda wins. Simply telling the truth gets nowhere; it will be used against you by an effective propagandist who can twist your honest words to mean other than what you said, the way David Barton does.

Propaganda against Hillary began while her husband was still in office, and got attached to her by the MuckRakers, Trump and an army of trumpeters, who contrived a barrage of false charges they trumped up against her to effectively wreak doubt and distrust that should have been easily discharged by a wiser crowd of continuously interested onlookers. That gave Trump an early start to trump up a way to turn the tide against her.

Aware that bullshit works when the truth won’t, Trump applied Hitler’s statement, that says “if a statement is repeated enough it doesn’t have to be true for people to start believing it” and repeated his “nasty girl, crooked Hillary” approach and, for him, repeated doggerel worked. Even many Democrats, who should know better, had been primed by the Republican hype already in place to accept Trumps trumped up spiel.

Now, Bernie Sanders may have been the best candidate after all, but he hadn’t made enough noise before he started electioneering for many people to know him. So, as it worked out, we ended up with a loose cannon with whom we were more familiar. I don’t know if Hillary is a crook or not, and with all the Republican trash printed and on the Internet, I would not trust anything I read about her. All my atheist heart can hope for is that Donald Trump can succeed at making America great again without wrecking what is good about it. If he fails, as I expect, we can be glad to tell him in four years, “You’re fired.”

An unrelated note:

This is my first full post that has been mostly dictated into the computer using the Dragon program. I have a lot to learn about it but I have enjoyed the unexpected accuracy, though not perfect, with which it responds to my voice. It is a fun way to work and saves me from a lot of struggling with a keyboard. It holds a lot of promise for me. I had a stroke this year, the result of which I had to give up playing my guitar. I kept on with my posts, though I made fewer of them and feared the dementia my numerologist predicted. That may come later in time but I will continue with my posts for so long as people tell me they still make sense. I have memory problems, and my hands do not work together anymore. I can no longer be my own mechanic. But, I can think and talk and will continue for so long as that is true, or until Trump has me jailed for expressing what I believe.

Orthodoxy

orthodoxyR

Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy is taking the word of an ancient line of thought without question. To swallow anything that’s old whole without a very careful check is guaranteed to lead to pain. It matters little whether it’s food or information, if it’s older than yourself, be sure to chew it thoroughly. Whether it’s for your stomach or brain, it’s going inside you to become a part of whom you are.

If we have to live with it the rest of our lives, we should be wary about what we allow to gain entry inside ourselves. We humans are notoriously willing to stuff ourselves with anything with an appealing aroma and deal with the consequences later. Brain or gut, we feed ourselves crap, some of which can be addictive, and aim the force of law onto others whose addictions differ from our own.

Mind or body, it makes little difference; addictions are addictions, harmful harms, and it all poses a societal toll the tax collectors either pass on to the rest of us, or delegate to eventual collection at the John Doe body dump. Thanks to memes, introduced by Richard Dawkins, we now understand how orthodoxy can become addictive.

Memes can be said to exist because, by inducing humans to perform actions attributed to them, they generate timelines that can be described and drawn as records of mimetic activity. The record would be of the observed human involvement only, from the inciting impulse until cessation. Because it would be subjective, any other information would originate internally from the people involved. (It is just as true for the god named God, that a timeline can be drawn of actions inspired by that meme. That is about belief. There still is no evidence that any god exists on its own.)

“.”)

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Oppression

Oppression

The lot of a not quite smart animal just bright enough to pick the least hazardous path toward the future, oppression builds as societies age and politicians wrestle to gain power and control. America has apparently reached an age where the importance of watchfulness is important. Of paramount importance, of course, is to know what to look for and why.

The typical atheist’s regard for religion is despisement. I believe that results from misapprehension of the ties between religion, politics, and the never-ending struggle for power and control. The misapprehension is not just an American failing, it is worldwide. It originates in the mind games the rich and powerful play against all the layers of humanity they consider to be “beneath” them. They may have been born with that status already in place but they still shit the same as you, and need to wipe the same way, too. Their status rises from our acceptance, their own, plus whatever blood may have been shed or deals have been made to buy it. That is true across the board, for the wealthy, religions, and politicians, with few exceptions.

A more correct view of religion would show it, politicians, the greedy rich, and every form of priest, unburdening our pockets of everything of value we may once have hidden there. Never take me at just my word. Listen to, and analyze, their every word. Don’t choose gullibility. Practice healthy skepticism. Ask questions and Google for answers. What would it look like for him to be lying?– telling the truth?– the opposite of the truth? What do I have for verification? How did I learn to trust that source?

We oppress ourselves as much by believing false information as by every other means. Not every politician, rich or religious person, banker, priest, preacher or rabbi harbors dishonest aims. Most may, in fact, be known to uphold the highest of scruples. Observe to learn: what do your leaders harp on? Do they express worry about their followers backsliding or jumping ship? If your initial indoctrination was much the same as theirs, it will be harder for you to spot the holes in their logic. Of what do they accuse people? An old saying warns us, “for every finger pointed in accusation, four point at the accuser.” It is hard to think one’s own side might be wrong in any way, but nobody is perfect. Check: which side is pointing fingers? Do they have facts on their side?— or do they depend on rabble-rousers to stir emotions in their crowds while offering little of substance.

Nature

Nature

Nature

I will acknowledge a fondness for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

(“But, that is about something that’s not real.”)

I won’t argue against that. What role the Flying Spaghetti Monster can play for everybody is as a stand in for testing other beliefs. If whatever can be said about the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not also true about the belief being tested, that belief could be true.

It doesn’t work all that well because people lie to defend their own beliefs. What I do accept as true, however, is nature occupying the position of final authority.

(“But, nature is not a god.”)

That’s true, and I never claimed that. It’s also true that some people consider nature as the Supreme Being.

(“Isn’t that the same as what you just now said?”)

It could be so, if there were an entity involved. There’s none.

(“There is always God.”)

No one has ever brought forth evidence to support any kind of such claims

(“Who made the trees, the beautiful flowers, the grass? That’s evidence for God.”)

It works better as an argument for nature. Anyway, which god are you talking about?

(“I am sure you know the god who gave Moses the Ten Commandments is the only god.”)

So, you are talking about the god named God? No, I didn’t know that about her.

(“God is a ‘him’, I’ll have you know.”)

Back when gods were many and each tribe and village had their own, the female form was prominent. Are you proposing your god underwent a sex change?

(“Don’t be ridiculous.”)

It was your idea. There are statues all over the world for evidence.

(“Those aren’t gods.”)

Maybe not to you, but their history is still known by some natives.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Memetics

Memetics

Sometimes scientists seem obliged to ask silly and deceitful-sounding questions. We must keep in mind that real scientists have spent the better part of a decade or longer going to school to learn to ask those irritating questions, and argue for and against what seem like idiotic viewpoints, however much they may remind us of certain seven year old children. Those questions are part of a ritual that belongs to a necessary ongoing process as a series of events they must perform whenever new subject matter has been presented to their midst. Once they have determined for themselves if it is important enough to bother, then rid themselves of all the ghosts that might rise up from hidden closets to bite them, and beaten the bushes free of all the goblins they suspect to be hidden there, they can then get on to more important matters. Memetics, being somewhat new, is still undergoing that process.

For science to develop memes about memes, they must undergo a process that, because it may be seen as self-referencing, could become particularly hazardous. They could screw it up with one brief statement that would take a hundred years to get undone. Look at what happened to hedonism just because Epicurus, more than 2000 years ago, lacked the concepts found in modern medicine and biology, and so failed to assemble a complete and cogent picture. This could be one of the most important topics to undergo scientific scrutiny since the inception of evolution, and has stirred up its share of quiet, almost surreptitious controversy. It could increase our understanding of how our minds work. A growing number of books and papers have been published but, still, very few members of the public-at-large have ever heard anything about memes or memetics.

Of those who have, a large percentage feel threatened and defensive. I recall reading a page on the Internet that a person purporting to be a Buddhist had written, describing Buddhism as being ‘not a meme’ because Buddhists do not proselytize and coerce others into joining their ranks or go to wars against members of other religions. I appreciated his statements, and have enjoyed the pleasant company I have shared with Buddhists in my lifetime. Still, Buddhism is a imemeplex (as Susan Blackmore named packets of memes, or meme-complexes) that, because it does not so deeply incite emotions, is simply less viral than other religious beliefs. Proselytization or not, people still accredit information about it, and adopt it if it fits their needs along with memes already hosted.

In spite of Susan Blackmore’s effort to discredit the idea of contagious memes, being viral is not necessarily a bad trait. It is, in fact, a one-word description of memes that have become effective at the act of replication, which is what memes do. Memes become contagious, or they die out. They have no choice in the matter. Memes become viral because they attract humans to ‘catch’ them, and so, good or bad, they must appeal to human nature to succeed, or learn to ride in a passive way on the backs of other memes. Our heads get full of them, both symbiotic and parasitic, because most are contagious to someone.

In their efforts to justify and limit memetics to the notion of acquiring them only by obvious acts of imitation, previous writers appear to have gone out of their ways to nullify the value of innovation in the generation of memes. Surely we cannot disagree they are passed on by imitation, but where do they come from? The argument so far has allowed mutated mistakes or trial and error to be responsible for the creation of all new memes, and saying the large brains we possess were developed because we needed them only for the complicated processes involved in doing imitations. Most of us are not good imitators.

Most of evolution has advanced not in a smooth flow like imitation/mutation would exhibit, these people are quick to alert us, but in wide plateaus with unexpected changes. Why should the evolution of memetics be different from the rest of existence? I will acknowledge we build upon all that has gone before, and use the tools we already possess for the purpose of making new kinds of tools, but have none of these people ever set down in a quiet place to do the pondering required for an act of innovation? Does living in an ivory loft so insulate one from the vagaries most of us face in life that they do not know how much easier simple imitation is, than to come up with an original solution to a difficulty one is facing?-to ask the question, “How do I deal with this?” and contrive a unique answer derived from what we already know? Protected people may never have experienced that process and realized the joy that accompanies its success. My diplomas are written in the lines formed on my tired bare hands, exactly the way of most common folks with whom I’ve worked. Few of us would trade lives with any of those who devalue ours, when their pronouncements seem to so strongly indicate their humdrum lack of real experiences. C’mon, people, liven up!

Blackmore pointed out that making tools by trial and error is not an easy undertaking, and that people could be taught the various required tasks. So, who was the first teacher?-an innovator? Someone had to figure them all out at the beginning, even if one step at a time: Would not the first person to cogitate relationships and realize the possibilities of designing and forming a stone tool be the one using the most brain power? It would seem apparent at first blush, but the argument will be that he or she merely imitated stones found in nature that worked to perform a task. Okay, then: Who had the brain power?-the first one to observe how to make a certain stone perform a task, even if by accident?-or those who first learned the tasks required to make copies?-or those to whom they taught their innovative new skills? How about those doing advanced work that required tools in the first place? This may seem like nit-picking, but I have a point to make that involves the evolution of events and processes, and I want you to be able to come back here and pick out the steps involved in the origination of memes and see that they are a natural occurrence and a necessary step that evolution must take as a “blind” force working toward its apparent goal.

If humanity can accept memes as a product of nature, that would have no effect on reality beyond our understanding of it and how humanity would then treat it. Seeing a god as an invisible component of reality might prompt development of a science-based religion that could put a whole new face on humanity’s destructive mistreatment of our home planet, our fellow creatures, and each other.