Tag Archives: secular

Rights

 

 

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Rights

Rights are just one of many similar things that bother the heads of atheists. They don’t really exist but we make them exist by agreeing to honor them. That’s why I tend to speak and write about such examples of quasi-reality in terms of persistence more than existence. This is very important to a full understanding of atheism and I shall have to pay strict attention to my wording from now on. Quasi-real “things” don’t exist in reality; they persist only for as long as some people find ways and reasons to support them. When their time runs out, most will leave on their own.

Use government for an example

Government, at various levels, and by agreements pounded out at the very beginning and since the beginning of the U.S.A., was granted the role of defender of our rights. Government also persists in that state of phantom reality, and so must be accepted by its intended constituents to gain its authority; or else, authority must be asserted by force as in the olden days. The quasi-real contrivances of mankind are so subject to manipulation people can hardly be blamed for qualms about trusting them. As time passes and manipulation progresses, watchful eyes lose their vigilance to age. As new generations come and go, tradition sets in and watchfulness becomes about the developing traditions. From early on, religion asserts itself and makes its presence known and rights become lost to the guise of public protection. Other influences work to promote special interests, greed, power struggles, all aiming to acquire undue advantage for some dishonest person or group.

Whether atheist or Christian, saint, sinner or “none of the above”, our rights are designated as equal. That means no person can claim rights denied to others nor deny to others any lawful rights others enjoy. It means no person can enforce a claim of elevated status due to religion or wealth. It means no person can be legally subjected to persecution for their religious beliefs or their perceived absence. At least, it once did.

We must learn to practice equality. It is not knowledge we possess at birth. We leave it to chance and hard experience, make innocent actions illegal by following a monotheist religion’s prescription or “just in case”. The poor results show throughout our American society, in crime, murder, imprisonment rates, stress rates and more. The precepts sound simple but we seem unable to get past our prejudices to make them work. That,“I will defend your right to practice your beliefs and you will defend mine”, “Your rights begin and end with you and mine begin and end with me,” plus “We will go beyond our differences to defend our families and territories against invaders.”

Another Example

The preachers and priests who contrived organized monotheism released upon the Earth an inevitable development in the evolution of religion. Monotheism, if you have forgotten (or never been informed) was built on the premise that only one god created, and rules, over the heavens and Earth.

Perhaps by accident, those who chose to describe the nature of this god as “immaterial”, albeit in rather dated language, chose the most appropriate term available. This 14th century word also, according to Merriam-Webster, applies to ghosts, spirits and other incorporeal specters, all of which require belief and acceptance in order to persist. Words not in use until relatively recent centuries will find their origins in apologia, where doctrines develop separately from the main guidebook formed by the scriptures regarded as sacred. Except for those scriptures, all else can be different between any two establishments.

Visit a Local Church

You can sense it upon entering the building. Some exude happiness. Some give such a sense of sorrow you need to cringe. Some, plain and simple in pastel colors, give no hint of what to expect. And then, never to be forgotten, there’s the church where you pushed the door open and jumped back, amazed to hear echoes of the minister’s last sermon ringing through the rafters. Though they all addressed their god by the same name, no two versions of the-god-named-God will be identical. Calling on them by the same name doesn’t make it right. That would have the same effect as naming multiple fraternal sisters all “Sarah” and making them figure out, each time you pray, whose name you don’t know this time.

What Does Any of This Have to do With Rights?

If this is at all true, preachers and priests have nothing to answer to beyond the members of their own congregations. They would be kept too busy tutoring their flocks about all the gods and demons, plus learning about new ones “discovered” locally and in nearby towns and cities. New gods get absorbed into the culture as do those from nearby.

Rights” and “freedom” are non-words in monotheism. “They represent blasphemy. They were planted in your mind by agents from Satan. They put you in danger of Hell fire. If we had been able to use our guillotine on Jefferson and his damnable cronies, you would not know to be lusting after such iniquitous pipe-dreams now.” “As you have already admitted in this blasphemous piece, individual rights do not exist. All rights are held by the church.”

I am sorry, but I have already asserted in this rather astute work of mine, that churches can only exist by the agreement of individuals. You will have to accept before that I will argue with you. Otherwise, you don’t understand it. Individuals have objective existence. Until individuals agree about it and provide an edifice or place, churches don’t.

 

Why Science Works

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Why Does Science Work?

Why Does Religion Fail?

This graphic, thanks to uncountable people from whose tutelage it grew, has turned into one of my favorite creations. It answers both questions in one whack, but only for those who understand it. Understanding arrives after a bit of easy study, which involves choosing a starting point at the top and following a finger down, stopping at any intersections to read and make a choice. All the trails lead to different destinations, some dependent on choices made along the way.

Natural Science does not practice science in the same manner as Religious Science, as the graphic depicts. Natural Science requires demonstration and verification. Religion asks, “How can I prove this?” Natural Science asks, “How can I test this idea?” and “How can I verify my findings?”

Scientific objectivity requires one of the many questions related to “What if…?” that were known as ‘the Five W’s Plus H’ where I went to school nigh ¾ of a century ago. Even here, the processes are different. Natural Science takes an active approach to gain its version of WHO/WHAT/WHERE/WHY/WHEN and HOW. Who all were involved? What was your premise? Why did you want to know that/think it is true? Where and when were the research and testing done? What did you learn? How do you verify that?

Religion chooses a passive or historical approach. Good. Much useful information can be gained from history, but would be better served without the bias religion dishes out with it. Research, much the same as for Natural Science, involves searching through literature for pertinent information. Maybe.

If religion cannot find its answers in the scriptures, it settles for apologia, whether within its creed or freshly written. It cannot look to the natural for answers because its claims are in the supernatural, a guarded place so well hidden away no one can find even a verifiable hint to show to others. It expects natural science to shy away from that and claims that science has no right to interfere in religious matters. Natural scientists should insist that religions should have no right to interfere in subjects that are the province of objective nature and put a stop to all the caterwauling.

All that may be well and good, were natural science given the same privilege to indoctrinate as enjoyed by religion, through notable parents schooled in its methods since birth, neighborhoods with clinics close at hand where children and adults could freely and privately browse books of science and seek advice from specially trained librarians. Such places could hold meetings where information of interest to secular people could be exchanged, speakers from afar or from the neighborhood could give lessons about science, its practices, new discoveries and theories, and anything else of secular interest. Such nonreligious clergy may eventually be known as secular priests, provided they could show their qualifications and manner of expertise in some fashion similar to commercial religions’ methods. Religion, of course, could not keep its tax-free status without those secular units also sharing that vital privilege.

In direct competition on a fair playing field, even without religion’s bluster, facility with metaphor, and threats of retaliation, natural science would no longer suffer a handicap. Its ability to demonstrate with hands-on statements that ordinary citizens could try, could make its basic truths apparent to one and all. An ability to pass the plate at meetings would offer secular congregants means to support their speakers’ efforts to inform a truth-starved society on all the subjects wherein good, trustworthy information has been so absent they stay unaware of it in the bleak conditions that prevail now.

As pointed out in an earlier post, it is the way that abeyance gets applied to untrustworthy information that puts science ahead when assessing information. The principle of defeasibility does not exist to religious concerns, wherein if you get accused of a sin/crime/evil thoughts, you are guilty however well you can establish innocence. You are guilty because you were suspected. The state will demand its tithe no matter how well you can prove your mother needs immediate medical care. You cannot claim your inheritance even though you are living in an overturned dumpster and need an operation that will enable you to return to your job. Be glad you are living under what is left of a secular system of law, where justice still often prevails, evidence is still required for trials, and the onus is on the accuser to establish your guilt by providing good evidence. That is what a secular scientific approach with an intent to serve justice means to you.

True, natural science takes far longer than religion to reach a conclusion. Religions can decide something fateful in as few as just a couple of minutes. Objective science can often take years. Objective science sometimes has an irritating tendency to change its mind, and to admit it may have been wrong. Religious science is never wrong. It is also seldom correct. The one making a claim in any American court is required to show evidence enough to go to trial where that evidence will be tested. Those opposing the claim, and those assessing the claim, remain duty-bound to doubt the claim for so long as their doubt is reasonable. Agnostics, take note. Wise atheists have reasonable doubt. All atheists are not wise; all religious people are not stupid, intolerant, and/or insensitive.

Natural science, a secular institution, works that same way, following the same principles as law, the opposite of religious practice. It speaks to why the person steeped in religion finds science to be so inscrutable, and why they believe it is science’s duty to prove a god’s nonexistence. It is always the duty of a claimant to remove all reasonable doubt regarding a claim—of guilt, of a presence at any commission of a crime, of existence of their favorite god. The claimant’s objective is to remove doubt that a claim is true. It seems silly to think the doubter has anything to prove. The claimant’s message is doubt’s subject. Without evidence, the message is meaningless and wisdom dictates a skeptical response and abeyance. It should end there until good evidence comes from the claimant, a demand the accosted doubter must make before discussing any further dependent issues.

So, now that you know what a secular process requires, you may be able to understand why faith and belief in any information unsupported by evidence can be attributed to religion, for faith in what was said is the hallmark nature of religion. Think of all the ideas you take for granted are true. To itemize them would be to describe your temporal religion. It doesn’t need to be about gods, as some recognized religions exist in a godless form. That would be a good exercise that could provoke many insights. Most of us are unaware, beyond what we learned in school, of from where most of our information came. TV ads, magazines, billboards, passers-by, friends and more, plaster our brains with so much information we cannot verify but a small portion. Our brains filter out good information we may have not understood while we dealt with other things, and so let misunderstood bad information go into the data-bank. From that point on, we head for trouble as related good information gets refused and bad information that matches up with the previously accepted bad stuff builds to influence future thinking.

A large portion of that may not have much impact on your life, as it may be about things you seldom deal with or in which you have little interest. All of it is entirely natural and nothing to feel ashamed about. We all need to question our own selves before we get judgmental against others, and work to keep our own houses in order before we get buried in the gathering detritus. This could explain the noteworthy lean toward conservatism observed in older people.

An example of temporal religion can be observed in groups of atheists and agnostics, specifically in their tendency to argue over various points of contention. We all have temporal religion in our lives (Temporal: of or relating to earthly life; lay or secular rather than clerical or sacred). Some of us won’t admit to unsupported beliefs and still spend hours arguing about politics and philosophies. Here’s an idea: Discover what objective factual evidence supports your pet ‘theories’ and present that while challenging your opponents to present theirs. Learn that what people have in common is more abundant and far more important than all our differences.

(“.”)

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

Don’t Believe?

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Don’t Believe?

Don’t get carried away with your skepticism without first giving it a lot of good, honest thought. Skepticism for the sake of appearing skeptical solves nothing. Those atheists who claim to have purged their minds of all beliefs have granted their accusers the upper hand with that unnecessary claim. Taking that philosophical position enables them to back you into the corner where nothing is true. Do you really believe that our perceptions of reality misinform us? —then, you support a belief. Can you demonstrate how that belief is true? —then, you have either demonstrated that you have a belief, or that you still haven’t mastered the art of fiction. Or, maybe, both.

I suspect the multi-layered composition of reality befuddles thinking about it, especially when we fail to recognize the borders that separate the layers.

Calling them layers probably also contributes to befuddlement, which is why we more properly refer to them as ‘realms’. They are not under foot; we stay immersed in them. The realms are named “micro”, “macro”, and “cosmo” with the suffix “logical” appended to each, plus a suspected multiverse that may remain forever beyond human apprehension. Somewhere in that never-to-be-known portion, prehistoric people asserted a supernatural realm most scientists would place in abeyance since it, too, cannot be verified.

I believe that entire approach to understanding reality yields the most accurate simulation of truth possible with the tools available in our time. I believe that because I see the technology and predictions from science improving over the years while the scoffers on the other side lose ground, become less convincing to more people, and increase the rate of killing each other over who has the best answers.

I do have their answer: “None of them.”

Written entirely with OPEN OFFICE.

 

Love and Justice

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Love and Justice

Wise lovers who feel concern for each other will set down fair rules right from the start, but do we ever? It would be far better if we could grow up with such rules instilled in us so we understood them from long practice, followed them without pause, and accepted the humanistic reasoning behind them.

Justice, derived from rules of fair play, toleration, reciprocity and trustworthiness, does not equate with the common notion of justice as a form of revenge. Justice seeks balance, yes, but ends with that; to push it farther begets punishment, which has no place in love.

But, mercy does. When one lover sins against another, pain and blame rule in the offended lover’s thoughts. The relationship—that process which binds them—suffers from that even more than from the offense. To punish the relationship when it is innocent makes no sense. Show mercy until the offender has made it clear that it is not deserved.

Righteousness arises not from out of any edification by church or priest, but from having earned the trust and respect of those with whom we share our lives and a world. A moral life has less to do with catering to artificial gods and demons than with how well our world, and our fellow humans, have fared at our hands. Evolution favors not the most perfect nor the strongest, but favors the ones who best fit in the social environment where they reside. Why else, despite centuries of killing each other off, would the religious still outnumber atheists? It must be for the same reason that sheep outnumber goats, and that cattle outnumber those even while serving as a popular meal for the human species.

Does justice, then, decree that we must serve the needs of the power-wielders to increase our own kind upon the Earth? No—justice and love serve the same ends in roles that humans play as tested in the courts of every land. Justice conflated with vengeance unbalances: Where vengeance reigns, love ebbs; where justice rules, love increases as compassion so that a balanced state can be maintained. Balancing hurt for hurt does not satisfy: Vengeance demands that interest be charged. The relationship suffers for the excess toll of that.

Denial

Denial

Denial

If you wonder about the importance of evidence to secular people, think about this: A whole world full of people waits out there, lurking to pull all kinds of shenanigans to get you converted to strange beliefs and practices they uphold, or to part with your money, without any kind of demonstrable evidence. The best they have is stories some unknown talebearer told that another unknown person wrote down. You get to choose from actual thousands of those doctrines in all their variations, but most people settle for the one chosen by their family in ages past.

So much for the importance with which people regard religion; it speaks more for the trust we have for our parents, that we typically never question their choice until well after we have achieved adulthood or have been exposed to the wide array of alternatives. With nothing else to go on, most people will switch for emotional reasons (“I like these people better”), because they relocated (“We couldn’t find a 5th First Columbia Baptist Pentecostal Refuge anywhere and we looked everywhere”), or because of doctrinal points (“The new preacher insists the creation story is metaphorical. That’s an insult to the truthful nature of the Bible with which I disagree.”) The few remaining wanderers have grown disillusioned by the universal insistence upon faith without evidence. Most have simply abandoned their religion because it seemed unconvincing or fake. The smallest number of them will adopt the atheist label after years of avoidance.

Once a person attaches dissatisfaction with faith-based beliefs to failure of their messengers to be convincing, and then sees how that failure stems from absence of any kind of real evidence, the importance of evidence becomes clear and the search for evidence-based beliefs begins.

None will be found. The seeker learns, instead (and despite misuse of language) to accept that something “is true based on this evidence;” and “accept that as false as shown by evidence;” or “accept those as farcical because of no demonstrable evidence.” Evidence gives science (and other practices that depend on it) a powerful tool with which to demonstrate its findings. By banishing a need for belief (but not belief itself, as that remains internal to each person), science as a process has freed itself to advance with constantly polished findings into the future.

The shoe is now worn on the other, correct foot. Evidence will fill the vacuum left by abandonment of belief and enlightenment begins for those who continue to learn. Unevidenced artificial ‘truths’ get cast aside one by one as the new seeker unearths new facts, more quickly for some than for others. Harassing challenges issued by believers alert the diligent seeker to what (s)he needs to know and speeds up the process. Never discount the value of that.

Emotions

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–   Emotions can influence one’s facility to reason by sharpening or blinding it. Which any individual will display depends quite a lot on habit.
–   Learned responses derived from faith or indoctrination dull the reasoning facility to serve the fight or flight response reaction and limit that to causes supported by the conditioner. Training and practice in “stand your ground” tactics such as used for sales forces, political debates, framing as presented by Lakoff, require the sharpened and agile, free-functioning minds dedicated to achievement and success. That in no way insures the free mind from making mistakes, but does assure the reasoner’s increased capacity to learn from them and engage in fearless, wider-ranging searches for information often forbidden by indoctrination. Victims of faith indoctrination seeking to free themselves, let me suggest, could most quickly advance by searching among the forbidden material to ferret out the nature of what the indoctrinators feared.

 

 

A Naked Truth

A Naked Truth

Right at the beginning of the creation story in Genesis, the god named God looked upon the naked people he had made and declared all of it, “Good.” The instant he found them shielding their nakedness from his view, he lost his trust and respect, declared their actions a sign of sin, and punished even the innocent animals because of it. “All have sinned and fallen short,” said the man he sent to atone for that, who apparently failed because going naked in public will still get us all arrested in most places.