Tag Archives: morality

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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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.

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.

No Forgiveness

 

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No Forgiveness

Were he still with us, we should thank Mr. Franklin, and his friends and relatives, that he shared his thoughts with so many, and so many had the foresight to gather them up and preserve them for posterity. It gave us a direct record from which their shared thoughts may be studied and their intentions easily discerned. I have been accused of quoting out of context to change his meaning. I have a three-step deal for anyone who believes that:

  1. Show me where using context of neutral origin;
  2. Promise to verify such claims for yourself in the future before passing them on;
  3. Stop reading David Barton and listening to those who quote his words. They are his words. They would choke and gag those into whose mouths he sought to put them.

Although I owe you nothing, and my expectations are low, I will make two promises that can still be kept after I pass on, for just in case you disregard this message:

1)Unlike a makebelieve god, Mother Nature is real and we live on her beautiful world at her noble accordance. She offers no forgiveness when we mess up and make bad choices, but gives plenty of warnings by inducing pain and discomfort. You will sense such warnings all your lifetime. They are yours to interpret.

Some warnings go beyond individuals or groups, though, and may reach out to alert humanity as a whole body. We are receiving a variety of warnings that scientists have interpreted. We are ruining our planet. A few of us are raping Nature. Gaia is stressing beyond her limits. Nature offers no forgiveness. Once the line of no return has been crossed, there will be Hell to face, the innocent and guilty alike. That is the first promise.

2) If or whenever the American public awakens to all the ways they are being scammed and their birthrights stolen through dupery, the angry mob that erupts to set things straight, or get even, will be unstopable.

Due to the unusual nature of this script, I offer the following short editorial:

Atheists typically dislike metaphores and distrust the intentions of those who use them. Since I have presented “Nature” and “Gaia” as properties of reality accompanied by the metaphore “Mother Nature”, the entire script may fail to make its point. To forestall that I offer this instruction.

I understand all that exists to belong to a process named Evolution. That way of understanding helps me keep things straight, and I recommend it. Nature (Capitalized Initial) refers to the overall process, while nature and evolution (lower case initial) refer to portions of their related process. Gaia, as an example, is the regulating process of nature, whereas we are inescapeably immersed in a process named Nature.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

New Baby

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New Baby

Nature requires brave people to do the job of raising children into fully capable adults. Spoiled children, spoiled vegetables, spoiled fruit, rotten meat — all result from the same process of over-protection without real care.

Raising a child requires dedicated hard work for which no one has trained you. You will follow the example set by your parents and neighbors and their mistakes will become yours. Raising two children will give you the opportunity to demonstrate important moral precepts such as sharing, cooperating, reciprocity, honesty, responsibility, justice, self awareness, love, self sufficiency and compassion. Keep these ten in mind while sharing your wisdom about them. You are not your children’s judge, warden, nor their jailer. You are but one of many mentors with whose influences you compete. Your role as their guardian and mentor requires you to teach them how to recognize facts and fiction, and to explain why in real terms when you disagree with another’s lessons.

Your children are individuals with their own developing minds. Seek to share what they can teach you and you will earn back the respect you gave them. Rather than teaching them fear, teach them to plan how to overcome. Teach them to prioritize, then support their fight to find and claim their dreams. These are some things I wish my own parents had known.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

 

Bad Labels

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Bad Labels

Labels that mislead about the contents hidden in a container, book, baked goods, or any sort of vessel would deserve the irate condemnation it would earn for any commercial establishment. Surely, no one would purposefully mislabel even a competitor’s container that might be on display. To offer, “I thought it would be better for you than what you asked for,” as apology would gain new labels, like ‘crook’, ‘con artist’ or ‘shyster’ for the perpetrator. “Who are you, to think you can make such decisions without my permission? What’s wrong with you?”

Honest business practices, upon which we all depend, require all proprietors to provide honest labels on all products on display for sale, including those from competitors, and to not make false and misleading statements about competitors in any manner.

It seems that Christianists (those people engaged in spreading, defending, and arguing for the Christian religion, often by attacking competitors) would see from events in the commercial world how their pushy, dishonest tactics backfire, made worse by the interference of trolls. When the trolls push the same message as the Christianists, their very similar tactics appear as though from the same army, just different soldiers. Neither the Christianists nor the trolls seem capable to realize that, as businesses engaged with the public, religions are bound by the same ethical principles as all the others. If they intend to stay in business.

Fear, Feuding and Force don’t work anymore except among semi-literate populations and the impoverished. Doubt gets provoked the same as it would if the makers of toothpaste, dish soap, or your favorite car tried those same counterproductive tricks. Imagine the lawsuits that would plug our courtrooms shut if every business with little to offer elicited the disgust of their current and former customers by resorting to the shoddy tactics on which Christianists rely.

And, yes, I am aware that “Christianists” is a label I have found on the internet being very similarly used. Like the term’s originators, I recognize there are two kinds of people who consider themselves religious. There is the quiet kind, confident enough in their beliefs to teach by example, wise enough to council silence when approached with an argument, stalwart enough to stand up against obvious dishonesty, and whose belief is strong enough so they seek the company of like-minded people.

The Christians know this message is not about them, for they recognize the Christianists from my description. They know this message offers a way to separate the seeds from the bedding so that everyone can learn that love pulls together, while hate drives apart. As the atheist in this story, I believe everyone should learn all we can about the Christianists so we can recognize when we are getting swindled, and to keep ourselves from becoming like them.

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.