Tag Archives: atheism

Love

Love

Love only becomes meaningful by demonstration.

If you have to brag about loving people, you’re not demonstrating it.

If you have to brag about God’s love for people, God’s not demonstrating it.

My words. I will not ask you to believe them. Most of us are astute enough to recognize when love is absent. We are most of us astute enough to recognize when we are confronted by hatred. Whether religious or atheist, we are poorly served by displays of hatred, and edified by displays of love directed toward us. Whether Christian or atheist, we read the signs and attempt to understand the intentions of those who approach us. If we are mistaught or inexperienced, we may misunderstand and read them wrong. We read as hatred attempts to foist onto us opinions unaccompanied by evidence. No matter what we believe, we are alike in that. Also, we commonly understand attempts to preach to us without first asking our permission to be hatred. Common to us also is our way of understanding displays of love. Showing respect is accepted as love. The ability to disagree without devolving into enmity is a loving trait.

If we could develop a meter to measure love and hate, we would label the midpoint between love and hate as apathy. That is the most of what God demonstrates in our lives, as in the kind of God the deists believe in. The impression that God does not exist, as the atheists would have it, arrives from the total lack of valid evidence in support of it. That someone wrote a book 2-or 3000 years ago is meaningless without any new developments in addition. Rather than frivolous, the demand for evidence follows precedents set by law, science, and any investigatory practice. To proclaim faith as its own evidence is the same as saying faith has no evidence. Results of praying linger close to statistical expectations as if there is no God. There can be only one legitimate reason for the total lack of evidence to support the existence of a god named God.

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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.

Outcomes

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Outcomes

It’s not necessary to know a lot of science to be a good atheist, but it helps you to hold your ground when confronted by the inevitable Christianists lusting to Christianize you. To deal best with them at their own level, however, it might be best to be completely ignorant.

Unlike honest, hardworking Christians, alongside whom you can work for years without getting into each other’s private affairs, they will spend endless hours pulling all kinds of tricks while learning how to Christianize you. Their aim to “win you over” is to WIN whatever it takes. Need to lie? Don’t hesitate, we gotcha covered. Is browbeating required? Of course. Whatever it takes. Never relent. The bastard will give in or give up. Make the bitch run. We don’t want that kind around here! Good riddance!

If you’re alive and breathing, you have probably been subjected to that kind of mistreatment at least once, most likely from someone wishing for you to adopt their denomination. While changing your sects may not be as intense to consider as taking up a whole religion, if you felt happy with your old sect there would be some stress involved.

We can take lessons from Christianist practices; our aim for avoidance of confrontations is our intended outcome, versus the Christianist’s intention to engage you until you give in, or else run for the foothills. That is not a good choice; they have cousins living there who will be alerted to your impending arrival. Unless you feel threatened, it might be best to just stay put and provide a good example of how they should behave. Passing advice without knowing your situation could be dangerous. Act disinterested while you size your culprits up. Arguing will get you nowhere and exasperate you by demonstrating the immense flexibility built into the Christian version of reality.

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.

No Sin

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No Sin

Words like sin, evil or morality are often resisted by atheists, who are apt to see them as something that, like the god named God, has no demonstrated existence. The common good seems easily discerned, enough so that adults accept it for the most part. We all recognize good and bad behavior and most of us could describe it with little effort; those who can’t will agree or disagree with others’ descriptions with ease. How does that happen?

Sin, evil, morality, values, principles are words. Words mean things to those who read and hear them. The conversation becomes lopsided when one side refuses to recognize terms the other side spouts with impunity. Sin and evil are powerful words, poignant with churchly suggestions of ethereal meddling. Secular people ought to love them and revel in the powerful expressions they enable, but we resist. Why?

The reasons, I think, are threefold: Conflation, resistance to metaphors, and the incomplete picture of existence most people have, thanks to the archaic dogma normal to our cultures.

  1. Conflation: the mixing together of secular and supernatural concerns is an unfortunate byproduct of religion that guarantees that most religious “knowledge” is erroneous.

  2. Metaphors: picture-words can be accurately used or made to lead others astray. It seems like blasphemy against the idea of atheism to refuse this powerful tool to defend against constant attacks by those using religion to shield their political agendas.

  3. 4-d existence: We can present events and processes as 4-dimensional existences because a complete picture requires a display of their time-lines. Understanding anything anything as 4-dimensional grants acknowledgment of its existence. It does not deny anything about ourselves, but requires that we be shown as a complex assemblage of events and processes, each running its own course.

  4. We need to update our dispersal of knowledge; the public’s information and misinformation about science is now absorbed, rather than taught, from such sources as advertising, movies, politicians, games and the like, which bodes ill against a correct common awareness of facts from which the average person can benefit. No one will do a web search for something of which they are unaware.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Real Evidence

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God Called Me to be an Atheist

Bad grammar works both ways: “I didn’t make the original claim, so it ain’t my job to prove anything about it. Without real evidence, only a fool would believe it. Rhetorical evidence cannot be verified in the real world, so it carries no weight. It only serves to inform you about what scares a person, like those ghosts hiding under some people’s beds.” We learn what people think, and nothing about truth.

So, by that, no one should believe the wild claim stated in the title; yet, most people, to support the standard of evidence they claim to uphold, are forced by their own claims to support mine. And, they should. According to their standard, my claim is true. The cognitive dissonance it induces, a common feature of faith-based standards, is one with which they have learned to live. If the majority of people can live with that, so can the skeptics among them. Maybe reading my story will help them understand why my claim is true.

I know you must have heard many stories told by those who felt they had been called to some duty by the god named God. They describe the still, small voice that seems to come from nowhere and everywhere, who whispers so loudly they can hear it above the din, yet remains quiet and persistent so they have to pay attention. They tell of tears shed in the midst of conflict, and the pangs of guilt suffered after each denial. Some call it the voice of God, some name it conscience, or scruples. For me, it’s the perceptive awareness of truth. I realized as a youth that truth is not a thing that exists. I realized much later that truth is about the accuracy of our perceptions. Cognitive dissonance exists to show us where truth is absent. Science exists to show us where truth can be found.

Truth is absent from my story because I have not shared it. Fear stilled my voice: Fear that I would fail to make its plain truth obvious enough; fear that I would be accused of mistaking Lucifer for the god named God. They are easy to identify, even in the Bible or any spoken or written expression: Just ask yourself about it, “Where is the love in this?– or does it spew hatred?” Apply that to any verse in any holy book, and to everything written and anything heard. You will find love in unexpected places, and hatred where you dreaded its appearance.

I was raised in the common American fundamentalism of the 19forties and fifties. A skeptic long before I ever heard such a word, I became known as “that smart-ass kid” with the bad habit of asking the wrong questions. A quiet and shy kid, I never deserved such a title, even if my brow stayed furrowed from trying to figure out the improbable antics so many adults presented as true. Discovering the truth about Santa and the Easter Rabbit filled my head with questions that led to, “If adults lied for my whole lifetime about Christmas and Easter, what else do they lie about?” Still a believer, my trust eroding, I began keeping my questions to myself. “Why all the pretense about Santa Claus while still acting like everything else is real? How can I know for sure what is true? How can I know for sure what’s not?

“If it’s in the Bible, it’s important.” I found many more rules in the Bible than the ten Moses accredited to God, so many more that the ten commandments would never raise a splash in a pool of them. Worse, rather than teaching how to care for our asses and slaves, preachers make up rules that were never mentioned in the Bible, and lie about where they came from. For example, early in the first book we find the reasons given for denouncing nakedness as a sin:

  • Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
  • Adam and Eve realized they were naked.
  • They fashioned garments and hid from God.
  • God cursed the serpent for misleading (“beguiling”) Eve.
  • God punished Eve with painful childbearing.
  • God punished Adam for listening to Eve, and for eating the forbidden fruit.
  • God made Eve and Adam coats and banished them from the Garden.

That is only one example from a multitude. No punishments were meted for nakedness, but only for what led to the realization of their nakedness. The true original sin was that for which God cursed the snake, that act which led others astray. Nakedness was never denounced as a sin or a crime. It was, in this case, made plain that only that which fosters an awareness of oneself as naked, called ‘self-consciousness, leads to punishment, by God. Draw your own conclusions.

I felt no sense of certainty that drove me away from religion. One day I prayed to God my promise that I would follow whatever evidence to wherever it might lead me, no matter what; that I would stay on that trail, without regret, until I reach its end or my own. The trail is endless. I have not learned much compared to what remains. Be there a god or none, I still keep my promise.

“A question: How can you claim to be an atheist and also claim God called you?”

My own question in return: “Should I rely on the old saw about ‘God’s mysterious ways,’ or simply redirect you to the foregoing paragraph about getting the call?”

Morals

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Morals

We get trained by the manner of our rearing to turn to a central authority for behavior enforcement. It begins with our parents or nanny and gets reinforced by all the central authorities we learn to deal with as we age. They increase in number and size while we mature, all of them enforcing their own sets of rules. We choose what we agree with and can tolerate, and accept what gets forced onto us, often with reluctance.

All of that grows with us into maturity and hardens into us as we age. We all respond differently to it at different stages of the cycle. We are rarely taught to think for ourselves, but to accept what we get handed as true and try to work with that. Disparity between truth and reality often requires adjustments, but help is always available if you don’t ask too many questions.

Examples abound around each of us from which we learn reasons to practice good behavior:

  • Each central authority with which we dealt as we grew up, as a moral act, explained their rules so you would understand them. As we approached adulthood we were expected to already know and practice the etiquette behind good behavior, so rules may not always have been mentioned.
  • Personal experience and events involving others provide excellent sources of behavior-related information and examples that go far beyond the normal realm of moral concerns. Television, magazines, newspapers, radios are just a few of the sources hawking tons of information daily. The Ten Commandments look pretty weak compared to what a one-hour shoot-em-up can demonstrate on TV.
  • The Law of the Land encodes behavior and punishments at all levels of government, with many opportunities to learn them. Religions work hard to assure themselves that as many as possible of their artificial constraints also become encoded right along with natural concerns.
  • Reciprocity, a hedonistic part of personal experience that too-often escapes attention, demonstrates the hedonic pleasure that arises from sharing, giving and receiving, cooperating, or any other acts of an altruistic nature, both in the giving and receiving.

Human nature as a social species demonstrates that nature has provided us with plenty of ways to learn moral behavior, reinforced by hedonic means, to which technology had added increased hedonic support with increased opportunities to imagine pleasure and pain. We are hardwired with only the essentials of morality. The nature of our social upbringing does the rest, which explains our affinity for a centralized authority, and why most of us can so readily adapt to other cultures.

That makes centralized authority seem like a good thing, a product of natural design that should never let us down. Nature never made us that promise. In every category we find errors: stillborn infants, global warming for which we are loathe to take credit, on and on. The weakness of centralized authority by which we are all apt to suffer is its ability to easily hide important information.

A recent example is a trade deal that involved President Obama that was presented by petitioners as a secret trade deal about which little was known; it certainly was not making the news, so the ploy was believable. Of concern was the section purported to give the president unprecedented power by enabling him to ‘fast track’ international agreements without seeking congressional approval. People don’t like secrets kept from them. That so many Republicans supported the bill made it more worrisome. (the bill has apparently passed on a second go round)

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