Tag Archives: knowledge

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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Our Own Eyes

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Our Own Eyes

There are different levels of belief that vary from fully-on starstruck gullible certainty to the extreme opposite in disbelief. Atheists with whom I have discussed religious issues tended to regard belief as something that stands alone, irrelevant to anything else. No one ever mentioned a relationship with any other words. No one at all hinted that belief and disbelief are the two extreme conditions of acceptance involving a continuum between related ideas rattling around in our brains, with abeyance as a center position. That’s the scientific method at work.

Maybe it’s too hard to acknowledge that religious and atheist people share an interest in the same things. Or, maybe it’s too much easier for both sides to see each other, and themselves, with dogs’ eyes as in a black and white world, where acceptance or rejection are always total and complete. Pay attention to the world around you and the people in it. Take off your judgmental lenses and just watch and listen. You will soon see that’s not the way things work, except for liars. Those waffles in your fickle, vacillating heart have afflicted the multitudes. Relax and take solace in your normalcy.

My point with this message is, none of us are perfect, and rarely, if ever, will any two people exactly mesh on all their beliefs and disbeliefs. It may shock you to learn there are believers who disbelieve some things; and there are atheists who do believe some things, even if they do believe they don’t. The important point at which this message aims is that is that those people on all sides of any issue —of those who would not be found guilty of politicizing an issue —if they are not actual frauds and hypocrites —actually believe in whatever they believe.

Democracy was developed to permit and enhance debate among its citizens, but we get poorly taught on how to go about it. And, so, we follow the only examples we have, those set the politicians and politicizers. We don’t know to stick to the issues, so we resort to personal attacks and disparage each other and our candidates, instead. We don’t recognize decoys, and so we end up distracted by those introduced by an opponent while tossing fistfuls of our own into the frey. We get so far off track we can’t find our way back onto the original road. We end up on a lesser topic than we began with and wonder why, and how we got so lost.

It is easy. One or both of you don’t want the other side to win and leads the other away from the topic. Feeling defensive in unexpected territory, the other follows the challenger’s lead by taking the bait. Wanting to appear strong, knowing, innocent and right, does not prevent anyone from making this common error.

It is helpful to learn the tactics most likely to be used against you in an argument. It could be even more helpful to assess debates by what they accomplished rather than their entertainment value. But, we won’t. We all are human beings. None of us are perfect. All of us are some ways different. And, that’s the best thing about us. Why not love that?

Objective Morality

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Objective Morality

What I have been reading about under that label does not deserve its credits. Objectivity requires a measurable condition be present for testing. That which cannot, in some verifiable way, be compared against a discernible standard cannot be deemed objective. The problem with finding that standard for morality results from poorly defined and misunderstood terminology.

First, we must define what we mean by “morality” with words available to common understanding from a good dictionary. What we find there boils down to three more words: motivation and concern as relevant to behavior.

The religious appear to have the easier pass with “Do as God instructs” but, since no god named God has ever been shown to be present, people are forced to acquiesce to the thousands of stand-ins purporting to speak for it, a circumstance that leaves believers with mixed messages to puzzle through and no definite standard to guide them and no way to verify. Even the important instruction, to rely on faith, the basis on which the whole setup depends in order to avoid accreditation as a scam, cannot be verified beyond the unsourced written script. No wonder statistics show them to be many times less moral than atheists.

That, along with the history and real-time observations of their behavior, leaves no other choice but to conclude that the morality religionists pose as objective (observable, measurable), if it exists at all, is subjective (of internal origin, imaginary, prejudiced), originated in some unknown ancient person’s head. That it gives undue attention to that which offends a god rather than that which causes actual harm, loss or injury, implies they are more about worshiping the god than about morality.

Since the Jesus character effectively nullifies honoring parents in the New Testament, that one can’t count. Yes, the remaining Nine Commandments tell you not to kill, but you still have to eat and they don’t tell you what. It will offend your neighbor if you covet his wife, or his ass, but you can kiss both if lust does not get into your heart. The heart is not the body part to look at for a demonstration of lust. Since, in most places, that part is required to remain hidden in mixed company, how can that be considered objective? If the reason for morality is only to hide “dirty” impulses and cover the the dirt crust on your body, the religious interest adds only maintaining appearances to their moral edicts. The only current source of validated, verifiable instruction aimed at good behavior will be found in a secular book of ethics.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

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 by making informed decisions and better choices. No one will do a web search for something of which they are unaware.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

No Sin

NoSinR

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.

Labels

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Labels

People unaware of the atheists they know have been mistaught a one-dimensional view of us. Since it is impossible to sense a one-dimensional object, maybe that’s why we escape notice. The worst people are the aggressive ones who deny that we understand ourselves and strive to gas-light us into believing “in” their description of atheism. What gall people can have, that drives them to insist that other people don’t know the thoughts in their own minds.

Think of people carrying their knowledge and opinions around in buckets, each of which bears a label naming the contents. The atheism bucket is empty. Call me ignorant all you want, that changes nothing. Empty remains “full of nothing but air.” There is nothing to discuss. Take your gas light and your own hot air back home.

I am what the religious people call an “apostate”. That label means I once had religion in a bucket but turned it over to dump. It didn’t pour as easily as I expected, as it was full of a stinky substance I saw once when a commode overflowed. It has been draining more than fifty years, and most of the religion is gone. Looking at the blob of poop that encircles my upturned bucket, I can see why the religious would expect atheism to be a set of beliefs that drive an agenda. They really don’t know how well off that makes them for that to not be true. I can see how the poop oozed out in layers of beliefs, all of them bound into the religion, a united concoction all tied to the main belief. With that being true of all religions, it must also be true of atheism. This requires an experiment.

I find a new bucket and fill it with water, which I then dump. When I look inside, the bucket is empty. Verification: Maybe water is not a thick enough substance? I fill the bucket with grain and dump it: Empty. I try sand and dump it out, with the same result: Empty. After that, I get inspired: Mud is about the same consistency as poop! I carry my shovel to the garden, fill it up, dump it and … empty but for some crap stuck around the edges. Excited to be so vindicated, I return to my old religion bucket, kick it loose from the ground, peer inside, jump into the air, and sing, “I’m free, I’m free, I’m free!” My religion bucket is very old and shows its age. I can go empty-handed, now, so I toss it toward the trash bin. I don’t need to carry an atheist or an apostate bucket. I am free to think my own thoughts.

To get to the point of this, take a look around yourself next time you’re with a group of people. Imagine each of them carrying a bucketful of beliefs. If you know their various religions, try to imagine then voluntarily joining forces to take over the world.

Next, try to imagine attempting to gather up people of all faiths to form an army intended to conquer a territory in the name of one that is not involved. Now, study that idea and you will find a few of the beliefs that some atheists follow. Notice how the incompatibilities between those beliefs duplicates what you find with religions.

So, yes, atheists have beliefs, philosophies, even religions; all of which bear their own labels, none of which is ‘atheism’. Think of ATHEISM as “absence of beliefs about gods, including that gods exist and that gods do not exist.” Think of ATHEIST as “a person who asserts that no demonstrable evidence supports the existence of any gods, nor of any realms designated ‘superior’ to nature.”

Each belief bears its own label. There are no ‘kinda’ beliefs. To my mind belief is either present or absent. When belief in gods is absent, people of all sorts apply ATHEIST as a label to name something that does not exist. Whatever individual atheists may happen to believe “in” bears a different label according to what each accepts as true. Rather than engage in foolish arguments, why not perform a simple experiment: Ask an atheist. Science will give you much truer answers than any religion.

Nobility

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Nobility

Whether or not regarded as an irksome chore, to endeavor upon the task of improving oneself can be a rewarding and necessary lifetime pursuit.

Rewarding? Yes. Each accomplishment that makes you feel better about yourself—that focuses ​on your brighter future—that alerts others about your effort—that puts you into the company of others making a similar endeavor—who will impart new insights about your own goals, new ideas and planning. Beware new friends you make. They might steal your good ideas before you realize their value. Shhhh, quiet…

Necessary? Yes. If you’re not advancing and improving, you are decaying and falling into obsolescence. That’s just Nature at work. Those who get ahead are those who keep moving; those who get run over are those who stood still.

Irksome? No, getting caught unprepared, getting overlooked, getting left behind are what’s irksome. Find your dream vocation, master that, and put yourself into position to go for it. Sounds simple? It can take years that you can endure or enjoy, your choice. Attitude matters. If you find find your choices irksome, that is a sign they are wrong for you. Find new dreams and choose again.

Lifetime? Yes. Once you discover a pursuit that pleases and engages you, you will want to develop your skills to the peak of your capabilities. Don’t be surprised to discover new worlds of possibilities will open up a new array of choices to your awareness, that were previously beyond your reach. If you find one tempting, go for it. You won’t be the first famous person to change careers midway.

But, what if you’re just a common, ordinary schmuck like me, who’s perfectly happy with life the way it is? When the end of your time comes, whom else do you have to impress than your own self? I am neither wealthy nor famous , I learned many things too late to apply them, but I have learned to keep one woman happy and live to a grand old age. I have met others I might have liked as much, but none that that I could love more. Take that as advice, and this: If you are happy, keep doing what you have going now.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.