Tag Archives: faith

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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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.

Brewing Arguments

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Brewing Arguments

Whomever you are, wherever you go, whatever you believe, some pushy person will worm it out of you however quiet you stay. I am quite forward because I want to get their barrage of arguments over with (yes, I know, “wishful thinking”) while I learn whom I have to look out for, whom to avoid, and who deserves my trust. They, meanwhile, are doing the same thing.

The indoctrinated nature of religion, plus the indemonstrable nature of most beliefs, plus that most human knowledge is expressed in the form of beliefs tells us that most of what people “know” is only their opinions. That makes it clear that, if they speak the same language and they are so inclined, any two people in the world could find something to argue about and any crowd could erupt into a spreading brawl. That very seldom happens. Why?

That our species is a social animal works some ways for us and some ways against us holds the key:

  1. For us goes the factuality of evolution, wherein cooperative people got protected and loners got eaten.

  2. For us, the top-heavy development of the prefrontal lobe of the brain enabled us to outsmart and outwit predators who wanted to include humans in their diet.

  3. For us, that same top-heavy brain enabled the development of language, and with that the passing on of wisdom that increased through the generations. Language also acted as a defense tool that enabled grunts and howls to evolve into precise shouted instructions, and, eventually, the development of radio enabled instructions to be issued from outside the danger zone.

    As described in older and wiser times, good and evil are only the masks behind which the good hides to become evil and the bad hides to become good. So:

  1. Against us is not whether evolution is or is not just science fiction, it is the fact that everything evolves, for better or worse. That differences of opinions lead to arguments likely induced a demand for sameness that led early hominids to develop religions to get some peace and quietude. That apparently offered a temporary solution that ended with the scourge called monotheism.

  2. Against us, that brain we so heartily praise finds it hard to distinguish between fact and fiction and has no built-in principles for guidance. Dupe it at a very early age and that misinformation will be misguiding young minds for generations.

  3. Against us goes the nature of memes, wherein indoctrinated beliefs insist on occupying every potential host. The nature of such memes puts pressure, built into the memes, on hosts they’ve already invaded to attack dissident hosts with (historically) everything from mental and physical abuse thru tortured death.

  4. Against us will be ignorant, frightened humans dwelling amidst all all manner of threats, real and imagined. Threats of little substance of which innocents can be accused out of hatred will earn them undeserved vile-sounding labels for daring to disagree with commonplace ideology.

Personal attacks have no justifiable basis in any setting, but are disingenuous weapons for picking fights, gas-lighting opponents, derailing from a losing topic, and more—all of which mark the attacker as a cheater, and as the person/people on the wrong side of a disagreement.

No one should want that, but very few people are aware there is a right and wrong way to settle a disagreement. Most couldn’t care less, even though people world-wide are killing each other over their opinions. Most people with whom I speak consider argumentation a potentially stultifying subject not worth the dreary hours to master it. It seems like a small segment of the population act the part of eggers, teasers and trolls and consider it only a game. It’s not. A better attitude all around would yield a better, less dangerous world.

A better attitude requires everyone engaged in disputes to recognize that only convincing evidence can dispel doubt as to which side is correct, and that absence of evidence on both sides requires the pitting of opinion against opinion. All unsupported opinions are put forth with an equal value of null, which is why they can only be settled by enforcement. The most dangerous opinions are built of powder and fluff with only words to support them. The origin of the most volatile disputes, such opinions deserve only avoidance. Wiley fluffers will redefine words, change context to conflate the topic, gas-light and Gish-Gallop to gain the upper hand, and attack you with ad hominems and name calling to define you as a person of questionable value. He/She/It has no interest in you beyond getting in some practice at pitching a con. Don’t give in to an urge to respond; rather than feed them, let their evil practices wilt from lack of nourishment. If you must respond, use this as a model:

  • You seem like a person of extraordinary intelligence. But, since I do not believe in fairy tales and have no interest in them, I will not discuss them with you.

Despite the natural drive of social animals to seek commonality we all live in different bodies and must care for our own circumstances. Those who would make us into clones will fail to end the arguments because of that, even among actual clones.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

The Importance of Evidence: God Called Me to be an Atheist

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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 loud 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?”

Merit River

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Merit River
Although a few seem aggressive, most atheists make noises in self-defense and, for the most part, we exist in the midst of the crowd with no one realizing we’re there. When we do make noises, generally about some aspect of the intolerance in which the overall society is steeped, it seems to awaken the squabbling voices of trolls within the crowd.
Seldom do those trolls address whatever issue was raised. To please their own crowd seems like their agenda, with personal attacks wherein they tell us what we believe “in”, describe our “agenda” to us, or lead the topic astray by introducing irrelevant material. They err on all counts but expect us to “respect their faith” without demonstrating a reason to do so. They most never show respect for our absence of their faith. I, at least, respect their absence of everybody else’s faith. I do not respect their errant tendencies, nor their blatent lies.
What is true stays true despite whatever a person believes. Faith, religion, belief, whatever label gets put on it, is about ideas. Ideas with no factual standing must earn respect the same as any human. Ideas earn respect when we know how to demonstrate them as true and have accomplished that, and also when what it would take to directly demonstrate falsity is not known and is recognized as never been accomplished.
The existence of a god: has never been demonstrated and verified; the god must be capable of presence to have its existence demonstrated and verified.
The nonexistence of a god: how to directly demonstrate nonexistence is not known; a direct demonstration of nonexistence has never been accomplished.
The same as with math, the positive (affirmation) and negation of existence bear each other out in their agreement, yielding a result of zero.
Never demonstrated and verified = 0
Incapable of verified demonstration (whether by choice, inability or nonexistence) = 0
(Proof) how to demonstrate nonexistence not known = 0
(Proof) nonexistence never demonstrated = 0
If <0 the god exists; if 0 nonexistent: 0+0+0+0 = 0
Conclusion: the god does not exist.
Since it’s likely that this seems hokey and too simple, let’s prove that rabbits don’t exist, using the same process. Rabbits belong to a different set of circumstances. We will start by describing that:
Existence of rabbits can and have been demonstrated; rabbits are capable of demonstrating their existence.
How to demonstrate nonexistence is not known; a direct demonstration of rabbit nonexistence has never been accomplished.

The same as with math, the positive (affirmation) and negation of existence do not bear each other out in their agreement, yielding a result of greater than zero (<0).
• Often demonstrated and verified = 1
• Capable of verified demonstration = 1
• (Proof) how to demonstrate nonexistence not known = 0
• (Proof) nonexistence of rabbits never demonstrated = 0
• If <0 the rabbit exists; if 0 nonexistent: 1+1+0+0 = 2
• Conclusion: rabbits exist.
Suggestion: try this test with unicorns, hobbits, leprechauns, polar bears, or any other existence you can think of. Disclaimer: like all tests this test yields false results to cheaters.

Merit

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  Merit

I believe Mr. Clemons was on to something when he made that statement. I have heard— and you must have, too, if you have lived very long—people lamenting about accident victims, “He died so suddenly, I don’t think he had time to be forgiven!”

I often wonder, while reading some words he expressed as Mark Twain, how many of such sentiments I might share with him, if we both had said, or written, every thought that had wandered through our minds. No, I am not staking any claim to greatness I have definitely not earned. Nor will I, at my age, live long enough to earn it, and I am too plain-spoken to lull asleep that many people. It’s just that I wonder what he would have to say in today’s world about people who violate every rule of common decency expressed in all the holy books of Earth, by demonizing other people, and then beheading, electrocuting, poisoning, bombing, or just plain killing them, all the while self-assured of their own deservance of a great reward.

By what treacherous vanity do villains gain sway over the lives of others, themselves protected against repercussions by the general sentiments into which they reside? Where is the merit of so many such situations so commonly thriving in every locale on this ball we all share, even to the point of conflicting in each other’s territory? By support of what law do they violate even the statutes of their own religions? I believe that, in many cases at least, the answer to that can be found in their apologetics.

Meme Evolution

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Meme Evolution: from grunts to words

Memes are most easily understood as ideas that people want to copy and share. This chart of Abrahamic memes is as accurate as I could make it with limited resources. I revised it once and will do so again when verified errors are brought to my attention.

That religion memes developed right along with written language should make sense, as language must be copied and shared to make conversations possible. Writing adds the sense of vision to word of mouth stories and makes them more memorable and accurately repeatable, and, so, provides a benefit for people who cannot read. Those who could read probably told closer to the same version to their listeners, which increased believability and acceptance by appearing to provide verification. Writing also made fiction more believable, and propaganda easier to spread, and religions became political tools.

Modern religions did not suddenly appear fully developed in their present form. They evolved by borrowing ideas from older religions, then stealing or slaughtering their adherents. Religious memes evolved as people around the world fought to develop the “best” possible religion in each area.

This chart depicts the development of the meme that has lately been called ‘Abrahamism’ from simple tokenism into the four ecclesiastical threads still ongoing. The timeline for this chart starts at the bottom and runs upward.  The original thread called Christianity seems to have almost died out and its name to have been confiscated by Catholicism and Protestantism, and, later in the United States, by most candidates for political offices. These are dangerous times in this world.