Category Archives: Superstition

Thou Shalt Not Be Naked!

Whose idea was it to proclaim nakedness a sin? The Catholic Church and the various Protestant organizations began sending missionaries to faraway places to establish their prestige and increase memberships and tithes. That is nothing more than good business practice. The God of the Bible never proclaimed nakedness a sin. Reading your Bible, however, will give you the impression that people decided that for themselves.

What is fascism? Although the word fascism only dates from the 1920s, the dark ages provide a good example of its effects. The church had complete control over most populations and was not squeamish about murdering dissenters. This is history that everybody knows about. The way things are going, it could easily happen again.

Tax-free Churches? There’s No Such Thing!

You pay what churches don’t! US churches* received an official federal income tax exemption in 1894, and they have been unofficially tax-exempt since the country’s founding. All 50 US states and the District of Columbia exempt churches from paying property tax. Donations to churches are tax-deductible, making for a double-dip loss of revenues by the government. They are not tax free. YOU pay their taxes.

Grant’s prophecy prediction (below) seems to be off by at least a couple hundred years. We can poke fun at that, or see if there’s any sense in the rest of the quote:

I would call your attention to the importance of correcting an evil that, if permitted to continue, will probably lead to great trouble in our land before the close of the Nineteenth century. It is the acquisition of vast amounts of untaxed church property…. In a growing country, where real estate enhances so rapidly with time as in the United States, there is scarcely a limit to the wealth that may be acquired by corporations, religious or otherwise, if allowed to retain real estate without taxation. The contemplation of so vast a property as here alluded to, without taxation, may lead to sequestration without constitutional authority, and through blood. I would suggest the taxation of all property equally, whether church or corporation.” (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th U.S. President [1869-1877], Message to Congress, December 7, 1875; Congressional Record, Vol. 4, part 7, page 175; from George Seldes, ed., The Great Quotations, Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1983, p. 288)

In a sense, an unrestricted religious or corporate leader could exercise multiple votes—his own, plus whatever he could influence from his employees or congregation from his power position. That said, why are religions allowed property-tax exemptions? I would suppose the threat of taxation had been expected to keep them from acting like ordinary people with an interest in the works of government, and so would prevent religious groups’ hands from interfering. It appears that cannot work without a government agent posted in every edifice during every meeting to assure complete adherence to the law. That would happen only at great expense and set a regrettable precedent.

The various layers of government perform many necessary functions for which they prepare annual budgets. Many of those layers suffer deficits even while billions are handed out to religious and corporate enterprises for questionable reasons. Overall, our government seems senselessly generous with our money, with both parties equally guilty. Allowing massive acreage to go untaxed while some favored enterprise holds the title is but one example. The government should maintain titles to all properties from which it does not collect full taxes, and collect rent otherwise.

The following quote inspires questions about how it leads to governmental interference in religion, still at taxpayer expense:

The government has leverage on religious groups because of the tax-exemption privilege. Church leaders, eager for the church to be free to be the church, should ask for the removal of this privilege. If there were no tax privilege for religious groups, hucksters and people who are using religion as a cover for political movements would be discouraged.” (William Stringfellow, lawyer and lay theologian, as quoted in the Dallas Times Herald, December 9, 1978, p. A-27, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1978: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1979, p. 447.)

Religious institutions take undue advantage of their tax-free status when they invest in property that far exceeds their needs and become rentiers. I believe it’s obvious that making investments is an activity the scope of which is outside of what can be considered ‘religious’, in the same way as is a pastor’s earnings at a job, for which he is (or ought to be) taxed the same as anybody else. In my opinion, the grounds immediately surrounding the religious or corporate edifice for a reasonable distance (which others must determine, that may allow for expansion, the inclusion of a graveyard maintained by the members, a parsonage, etc.) and that all other properties are expected to produce eventual income outside their normal religious purview.

The quote expects religious leaders (and the government) to do the right thing: the leaders who wish to involve themselves in political activism to renounce their special status and pay taxes like everybody else, rather than yield to temptation and break the law. And, the government to hold their feet to the fire and actually impose fines and demand taxes when they do break the law. Otherwise, the government acts as if to acknowledge the religious claim as correct, that God’s is the higher law, and that all the various kinds of preachers have a right to act upon their arrogant insistence of that as a fact beyond substantiation.

We must recognize the importance of this. Our country’s early churches insisted on, and backed, the wall of separation that kept the new government away from their business. A variety of moves took place early on to insert chaplains into congress and were rejected. Prayer in public schools is still a hot topic. Efforts to insert religious edicts into law (Tennessee voters just approved a sneaky attempt to control abortions via a constitutional amendment) continue to apply every possible twist of logic to their agenda toward preeminence.

I expect their freedom from taxation was intended as part of the “wall of separation” between religion and government. If that is not the case, I see no other legitimate purpose for it, and hate that it depends on voluntary self-governance by those whom, even in Ben Franklin’s /Tom Jefferson’s time, have shown themselves to be dishonest manipulators. According to former White House senior policy analyst Jeff Schweitzer, PhD, US churches own $300-$500 billion in untaxed property. [1] New York City alone loses $627 million in annual property tax revenue due to 9,500 churches being tax-exempt, according to a July 2011 analysis by New York’s nonpartisan Independent Budget Office. [2] [3] What affects citizens is the way they are expected to make up these losses from their dwindling wallets plus pay for all the giveaways to the already wealthy. It would better serve justice to impose the taxes, and to write into law exactly what actions are illegal for religious enterprises to engage in, what actions are illegal for the government, then actually enforce fines against that, and let the courts develop it from there.

Faith and Facts

May 23, 2009

“I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.” [Clarence Darrow]

“I am a deeply religious nonbeliever. This is a somewhat new kind of religion. I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism. The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.” [Albert Einstein]

My main thesis is narrower and, I think, more defensible: understanding reality, in the sense of being able to use what we know to predict what we don’t, is best achieved using the tools of science, and is never achieved using the methods of faith.”
Jerry A. Coyne, Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

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Mr. Einstein’s statement, in the quote attributed to him, in which I see much merit, demonstrates a developed version of the temporal kind of religion you have been reading about in these pages. As stated on previous pages, my views on religion are that if faith is required to believe something, that does not constitute knowledge. If you can show how you know it, and make it obvious to others and irrefutable in itself, by its own nature, it must be true and, therefore is knowledge. As you also saw in the preceding pages, people use all kinds of trickery to convince a naïve audience otherwise.

If something is known to be demonstrably true, it is not called faith. It is factual and faith is unnecessary. The only facts that can be found in religion are in regard to where some scriptural quote can be found. The quotes themselves, unless somehow already granted scientific support as a result of having had that process applied to them, so that they become understood as true for known and repeatable reasons, are anecdotal in their evidentiary nature. Without scientific support, they are not facts; they are, at best, guesses, fables, unsupported opinions, mythical or legendary, most times misinformation of undocumented origin. To call them ‘scientific’ is an attempt to scam.

That condition leads directly to the fractured condition of religion in our own times, that the nature of belief without credible verisimilitude loses in both directions; that is, that anyone can say whatever they wish others to believe and find support, and those same others will choose from the mess of it what to believe without requiring any vindicating support. Faith is never in what can be shown to be true; it is always in what one supposes or wishes could be true, and that is why it is called faith and not fact.

Knowledge is about facts, items that can be demonstrated to be true however one has gone about attaining to their awareness. Even the proponents of faith will demand that of their opponents in any argument. “Prove it.” Knowledge may be about what a scripture says, in the form that claims and can show the scripture actually does say it, but is not about the unverifiable information contained in that script or any other. Facts do not require faith to uphold them because they can be known and shown.

Before science, written records were humankind’s attempt to achieve veracity and uniformity of knowledge. As far back as art on cave walls gets dated, agreements were recorded about how the various important or interesting events took place, and put on display for all to see.

Later, discussions that would take place about those events could be settled by a viewing of the drawings and, later after the innovation of writing, the recorded words that described them. Not all recountings would agree, however, when groups of doubters gathered to produce their own accounts. In the drawings, small details most likely were varied from one accounting to another. In later writings, jots and tittles may have held different meanings to later interpreters. It still seemed necessary to devise some way to present a uniform view that all could understand alike. The scientific method has demonstrated itself capable to produce information that maintains cohesive verisimilitude for all who have adopted it and learned to understand how and why it works. That to which it cannot lend its support does not demonstrate a weakness in science, but does present the weakness inherent to unverifiable stories about reality and nature. To understand why requires a good understanding of how to apply abeyance in the principle of defeasibility.

To me as a toddler, my grandmother told stories about the fairies living in the lawn, whose table settings could be seen in the morning dew, and that I would destroy were I not careful while running across them. My faith in Gran’Ma’s admonitions faded over the years as my possession of factual knowledge increased while her stories went unreinforced, until now I can understand that as the nature of all faith: unreinforced Faith fades as knowledge about reality increases. Faith requires reinforcement and the avoidance of factual knowledge for its survival; for that exact reason you will find admonitions against erudition throughout biblical scriptures, even from their very beginnings in Genesis, attempts to enforce misinformation and derogate knowledge. Even possession of scriptures were forbidden in early Xianity, lest questioners emerge to cast doubt on priestly words that had served to reinforce faith.

So, why would anybody wish to proclaim faith to be a source of knowledge? To understand that, all one needs is an awareness of the political aspects of ecclesiastical religion: Knowledge is bad stuff, according to all kinds of biblical edicts, but centralist religion must hold its own in the face of advancing technology and the growing exposure and ease of access to information. When a growing skepticism, fueled in part by recent fiascoes created by attempts to tie political success to religious backing, inspires increasing numbers of people to become interested in discovering why such a controversy exists as has been initiated by the religious right, claims to knowledge must be raised by those who back faith in order to save face and avoid out-of-hand rejection.

Meanwhile, pronouncements against the value of knowledge must remain hidden or that effort will fail. The scientific nature of knowledge must be watered down to a point that anti-knowledge stances can appear to possess legitimate claims to it. Religion can then call its baseless presentations “science”. Misinformation, disinformation and stories must now be presented and accepted as knowledge by the very same people whose religious establishment once forbade and punished the common person for access to the scriptures, and presented tasting the fruit of knowledge as a sin so vile that Adam and Eve got tossed out of the Garden because of it.

There is another aspect of this that takes the discussion of it to a greater depth, that arrives when one realizes knowledge as in a relationship with understanding. Religion attempts to gloss this over with shiny pronouncements about such as “knowledge of God” and “the religious understanding of reality” while attempting to offer nothing substantial for support. Such hallowed words ring as hollow. The appeal is only to those already convinced and willing to accept edicts at the level of urban legends and grant their wholehearted preverified [decided before an investigation, if any, was begun; any search looked for support rather than objective evidence] support with no qualms or compunctions against errors being introduced into their lives.

Despite its criticism of the scientific method, and its avoidance of its application in their own behalf, religions hasten to proclaim vindicated ownership of whatever part of their edicts for which they feel science has found justification. They forget that, according to the law of averages, 50% of what they guess to be true ought to be, and the role science serves ought to be to discover which portion of their claims that applies to. What ought to be disheartening to them is to acknowledge that such edicts become no longer religious as a result of that, but then are demonstrably scientific, faith and gullible belief no longer required. Anything of religion not so demonstrable that still gets proclaimed scientific by their spokespeople, is not.

The scientific method must be shown as the reason and source for such edicts, and repeatedly so for all the future so that it can be demonstrated time and again, wherever and by whomever is so equipped by instruments and knowledge so that accuracy can and will be maintained. Anybody can claim something to be scientific, and when people fail to demand factuality they can and (it is plain through history) will get away with it. Errors multiply faster than they can be corrected. Religions result from that and gain ubiquity from it. Where no corrections dare be offered, the mass of humanity suffers regressive poverty, especially when such errors gain political backing and popularity.

The errors religion serves to perpetuate as superstition, along with the compulsiveness inherent to those with perverse views of nature, serves to thwart the development of common understanding. Understanding develops through applied knowledge; it could be regarded as “body knowledge”. The skill developed through rigorous practice shows as understanding, wherein the body seems to have its own mind and the thought processes of the left cerebral hemisphere become obstructions more-so than guides.

The nature of the interactions between the right and left brain hemispheres becomes perverted into “understanding” by the application of religious misinformation so that even such atheists as Sam Harris willingly support those practices of religion that proclaim spiritual development, that have at other times been shown to lead to insanity.

That which unbalances the homeostatic functions that maintain our bodies and minds at their best must be regarded as wrong and dangerous to ourselves and those who will be affected by our misdeeds. The false understanding to result from rigorous practicing of inducing chemicals, starvation or isolation becomes as much a second nature to such practitioners as it does for those practicing to develop a skill-set. The difference between the two can still be found in science’s requirement for verification, when one who has become capable to perform an unusual task gets compared to one who has become somewhat incapacitated as a result of interfering with the natural requirements of his body to function.

Understanding that has been developed to interfere with natural CC, then, can be rightly seen as misunderstanding and adjudged to be harmful. Misunderstanding is worse than ignorance because it leads to botched and costly actions. A community of that sort will lead into the expensive unbalancing problems so rampant in today’s America. Understanding that has been developed to enhance balanced, healthy vigor in application to a skill must be adjudged to be a benefit to its possessor, but also to his or her community. Why should anyone prefer the former over the latter, were a choice actually ever given before enforced indoctrination?

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.

Abeyance

Reposted from Hedonix of December 3, 2013

Abeyance

Lloyd H. Whitling

Hang it up. Put it back on the shelf. Keep it in cold storage. Give it a rest until we see a reason for it. Abeyance…

If you study only all you’ve been handed, you will never learn anything that goes beyond that. You will never feel the joy of making your own discoveries. You’ll have only old stories to tell children already much wiser than you.

Over the past two or three centuries, depending on what we would choose for a starting point, science has been slowly building and refining a pool of knowledge. During that time, it has also refined and established a method for determining and verifying by how much we can depend upon a piece of information, its reasons for denying truth for other pieces of information, and why some other pieces of information accepted as true should not be believed.

During recent decades, that pool of knowledge has accelerated into a pond. Science still has an ocean full of lakes to go, but that does not mean we do not need to keep on, nor will not benefit from, applying that method to our individual existences. After eventual banishment of unfounded beliefs, will our world truly crumble into rampant sensualism? Will a universal application of well-understood science prevent that from happening—or, is what we have now to guide us the best we can ever do?

If there be truth to the often-expressed notion that science cannot make moral statements, it likely is true that there will never be a better world for human habitation. We cannot forget, however, the scientific method was never used to approve that statement. For people to believe it while untested makes of it a religious statement about “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” Untested, it may not be true, or may be partly true but mostly misleading. It must be tested so we can know, and steer a proper course in harmony with the result. We can learn to trust it over the course of time, as increasing amounts of gathered data, as always, lead to refinement, until we (or, our heirs) get to compare life in some later times with ours. Will we or they laugh at our current duplicity? I will insist this: If applying science to morality results in a mess, it is set up to correct itself. It is the nature of religion that it will not. Religion will hide in every hole it finds, and hang in each hole until science finds a plug. The value of religion to humanity is not the possession of any truths. It serves the world by challenging science and forcing it to stay honest and, as much as possible, complete.

I was not raised to think the way any of that suggests. My folks would have felt proud of all the religious-right sons of (I so hate to sully my image of dogs that I will say) Satan that are running our country now. What changed? I believe my interest in writing, combined with the religious arguments in which my parents seemed to stay involved, caused me to rescue myself. Starting with the religious arguments, no one can ever claim I lacked interest. I started to read everything I could find, until it dawned on me that everybody seemed able to prove anything they wanted from their scriptures. I began to understand how God and Satan could switch places in people’s minds with no one ever the wiser. The only people who could show me what to believe were the scientists I eventually read about.

Yes, there is an element of doubt inherent to science. That is a good thing that allows for informational refinement. That element to enable a tuning-up process should no more be disparaged for science than for musicians. Think of musicians not allowed to tune their instruments, and you will soon have the conditions inherent to religion— people soon starting their own bands (new sects) just so they can re-tune, then having a blast with it until the inevitable detuning occurs. Rather than doubt, I now see it as being able to know a good thing that may later lead to knowledge of something even better. Hey, I can allow myself to stay in tune, now!—and I have standards of comparisons so that I can stay in tune. I only have to remember that not everything written about science is scientific.

The religious don’t see it that way. They see that element of doubt as a weakness they can latch onto so they can keep themselves convinced of their own failing sense of rectitude. That may be one reason why they search the Internet for arguments. They feel desperate, it appears, for a handle by which they can lift up their wilting belief, hoping against hope that it won’t die before Jesus comes back to rescue them. They don’t see the verse in their own scripts that tells them that day has come and gone. They don’t want to hear how the promise went unkept.

The religious call us fools, immoral, evil perverts with no moral compass, filled with anger. We may be fools, but only because we give them our attention, as if we give no thought to things when they’re not around pissing us off. Yes, it is their common inclination to reason with the gut that makes them so irritating to us. They proclaim something scientific, when that claim has passed muster with nothing more than their scriptures. They talk about hypotheses as though they may be indefeasible without realizing we commonly have no interest in them until someone can make testable predictions about them. They seem oblivious that so many people have tried variations of the same routine on every opportunity to present itself that we feel underwhelmed (a cliche, yes, but appropriate for a cliche situation). You! You are not the first to so approach us. Our parents and/or our neighbors beat you by most of our years.

Conditions found in the middle East give me my personal take on morality. It cannot be set in stone by centralized self-appointed authorities without doing great harm. Over time, the authority squeezes harder and tighter as new, more painful and unjustifiable edicts increase its grip while its subjects struggle to stay alive. Look at conditions in the middle east where that is normal and enforcement too often leads to death of an innocent victim and freedom for the guilty. Morality is a servant of Justice. That is not justice. That is injustice! To treat religious edicts as though they have already gone through science’s process of validation leads to the enforcement of sham laws based on them, a dangerous situation the rise of which we are seeing in our own country. Fascism is not just a Republican buzz-word. Dominionism is not just an idle threat. You would not like life under them any more than would most of us.

True morality is a province of responsible empathetic individuals. Living in a “righteous and good manner” is what keeps us all out of jail. The last statistics I found showed atheists to be, PER CAPITA, less than 1% of prison populations. That is what comes of mixing religion with governance, and of treating speculative hypotheses as though they have been proved. What good is a hypothesis if it gets you into trouble by leading you to moral edicts that fail? Why bother with all the trouble taken to hide religion behind rhetoric when the numbers show how it will fail you? It is as easy to call Satan “God” and mistake that entity for Allah, Yahweh, or whomever, because you have no way of recognition. You would be far better served to simply watch what happens to other people and learn from that.

Most arguers accusing atheists of ‘fundamentalism’ and ‘denying God’ leave out the one important element that DAs use to determine if cases are ready to be tried, that makes science the powerful tool it has become, and justifies the naturalistic atheist position. It is the matter of abeyance, derived from the defeasibility principle. A scientist may believe his hypothesis will pass all tests. A DA may be convinced the accused deserves to serve a long sentence for a heinous act. To serve the cause of justice, which we all want, abeyance requires unsupported hypotheses and accusations to be set aside and to not be acted upon until sufficient evidence can be gathered. Conjecture and speculation for which no evidence exists, and for which no testable predictions can be expressed, are considered to be frivolous, meaningless, irrelevant, dangerous to truth and justice.

I have lived a long life filled with people pushing a ‘god’ notion and have learned some things that warn me of slavery, intolerance and centralism. That means that my autonomy is being targeted. Someone is setting up a circumstance where they can grant authority to a central power so they can manage my sense of responsibility for the results of my choices in life, and such people act as toadies for that cause. Worse, they want to usurp my right to choose sensibly by introducing priests (by all the labels that apply) into the mix, who feel bound to serve their frivolously derived god named (God, Allah, Satan, the other 15000) by guessing at what It wants the same way they guessed that their version of It exists.

We already have a central authority, where the Almighty’s handiworkers have been making inroads since this country’s inception. We are embroiled in the middle East because of it. We have problems in our cities that can be (and have been) attributed to it. We have an unjust system of taxation because of it, and it will get worse before enough people awaken to the root cause and rise up against it. Look at what is happening in the middle East now. Look at Syria. Worse than that could happen here because of people pushing this conjectured existence into government. Do we want that evil here? My opinion is “No! Let them complain about persecution. They work hard to get it, then, when it comes, they don’t like it.”

Can you in all honesty, imagine a god as jealous, bloodthirsty and demanding as the one described in the Bible staying so completely absent from its flock? As all-powerful as it is said to be, I would expect to hear a ‘round-the-world deafening growl every so often. It would definitely make itself heard and put a stop to all these yay-hoots giving Satan all the credit and causing all those good-intentioned converts to be bound for Hell. I surely don’t envision a god so dumb as to let that kind of people do its talking, when the real, actual thing could scare Hell right out of me just by letting me hear it sigh. I would be at its service immediately after cleaning up the mess.

The only testable rules of right and wrong are learned from nature. The only demonstrable reason for ethics and morality is found in other people. We will praise each other for doing good and right, and warn each other when we see bad and wrong in our midst. We will sue people who do us harm. We don’t need priests to set down rules about those things, nor to form a court to determine reprisals and restitutions. Like any other animal, we can do that ourselves because we know what hurts, what deserves blame, what deserves praise, what constitutes loss, and what makes justice. Gods and priests serve no purpose in that, and only get in the way of its free practice. We need a government that works for the common good, not against it.

We also know how to determine the sources of many decrees about morality, the nature of the causes such decrees might serve, and do well understand what it leads to. Our USA is suffering in its sleep because of that now. It is the adverse of the freedom our leaders constantly tout. We don’t need more of that in our lives. You don’t need it in your life. Study freely with an aim to learn what atheism and hedonism really means away from churches and other commercial enterprises. Don’t try to sneak in what deserves nothing more than abeyance. Too many of us have already had that up to here. We have no reason to adopt such beliefs, and you have no reason for hanging on to them.

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Persecution

persecution

Persecutor

A persecutor is a person or group guilty of the following wrongs:

1: those who stalk, harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict; specifically: those who cause to suffer because of belief or absence of belief or difference of belief.
2: those who annoy with persistent or urgent approaches (as attacks, pleas, or importunities) :PESTER synonyms see WRONG, stalker.

All religious groups have, sometime in their history, been persecuted. Christianity is not the only religion to have sometime been persecuted, or, at least to claim that. That people persecute each other tells us that it is a political act that could evolve into a crime. All monotheist religions have dirtied their histories with braggadocio scriptures about their heinous actions. Accounts of their actions tell of the use of guillotines, swords, machetes, stocks, imprisonment and more; all to perform political acts with a stated intention of glorifying the god named God, or inducing fear of it. They accomplished neither. All that effort got for them was the torture and murder of the honest saints who preferred death over lying to deny their beliefs, the preservation of weak-willed liars, and a centuries-long bloody mess

If a god of any kind exists, and it’s a sure bet against that, you can also bet it created memes to make us confused and docile, and it was the devil who stirred a fly into the mix.

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.