Thursday, December 15, 2005

Religion is the Wisdom of the Ages

Long, long ago, before your mother or your grandfather were born child, before humans began to use wheels to move things about, before anyone had learned that the earth is a sphere, before humans knew about electricity and magnetism, before we understood that the contenents drift about on the surface of our globe following the currents deep within Earth's surface, the smartest people in the tribe were assigned the task of speculating about the causes for the events around them: earthquakes, lightning, seasons, wild animals, agriculture, the sun and the moon and other thing which we now know are formed through natural causes. But they had no way of knowing because they lacked the technology to investigate thoroughly. Their mind was their main investigative tool. Most of the phenomena they witnessed were so terrible and awesome that they ascribed them to magical beings who, depending on their emotional state at the moment, could either grow the crops or bring a drought. These beings could kill an infant in its sleep or hurl thunderbolts down from on high. They could be pleased or displeased with our behavior and bring abundance or dearth accordingly.

As time went on, those wisest among us began to make discoveries into how our natural world worked. They discovered that the earth is a planet and not the "firmament" upon which all things are built. They discovered that it revolves around the sun and that the other planets do too. They discovered the properties of electricity and eventually they discovered the elements. What they observed became so complicated they invented new math and better ways to observe and measure the world around us until the idea that magic could influence our natural world became a colloquial fantasy, one not shared by those who seriously investigated the fundamental nature of our universe.

The great mythologies which had served so well before became quaint and one by one they fell out of favor. Who among us still believes that Zeus or Thor hurls the thunderbolts? Who among us believes that Achilles or Jesus were the product of a god and a human? We understand now that that doesn't happen. We know that even if we blaspheme an old god, the floods will not come down to punish our towns. With that knowledge came a difficult responsibility; we had to police our own actions. Since we know that we will not be punished by a god or gods for our transgressions, we must learn how to satisfy our wants and desires while still living together in society in relative harmony using just our moral sense to guide us. We must discover the rules that work to keep society working. Many of those rules can be found in the moral code of the ancient mythologies including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and the like. We should not forget that this information is brought to us by the smartest people of their times. It is, in fact, the wisdom of the ages.

But now our investigations, though they have shattered the myths of creation, have created equally as profound of questions as those proposed by religion. The unfortunate and difficult part is that, although investigation can show us some of what the universe is like, it has yet to tell us why. In all likelihood, we will never know the mind of god because it is simply outside our experiential world. We do, however, know that superstitions that attribute magical causes to events in our history are unfounded and false.

Intelligent design could do very well as the principle for the creation of the universe as a whole but in terms of what happened after that, it falls only into the realm of superstition. The wisest among us are now pursuing the same goal as always, just now the method has been refined and we call it science.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Vacuous minds make vacuous thoughts

Vacuous minds make vacuous thoughts. THe air rushes in to equalize the pressure. DI-ID people are right: the universe does seem designed. It does. If you consider that space and time are rushing out into something that is neither space nor time in a giant shock wave of orgasmic release, that from a singularity which could aptly be referred to as an idea all the particles are born and get cooked in star ovens to become the wonderful cakes and pastries of planets and ultimately life, that if you are travelling the speed of light and you hold up a mirror, you can’t see yourself because you haven’t happened yet, that these are frightening thoughts because we are so small and helpless in the face of this awesome and terrible reality, then you begin to see that a god that can exist within these bounds that is really only a little bigger than our solar system, that can hold our hand as our parent should have when we were frightened children, whether this god is a fancy is unimportant, this god must be there because we simply couldn’t bear it if it weren’t true, and the real god, the god that lit the fuse on the giant firecracker is a terrible and fearsome god and most of us have not reached the critical juncture where we can meet this god face to face, unafraid of our cosmic insignificance. So we deny the existance of this god using duplicitous arguments and encouraging hate and fear in those who would listen to us, those who, like us, are utterly unable to allow that we are alone on this journey, are unable to smile as our lives and the lives of the ones we love snuff out after some infitesimal blip on the cosmic timeline. It is a terrible burden, to know that we must love with all our might while we are alive because there is no rulebook for loving at the other side of the singularity which we all share in loneliness and alone, life.

So, although the arguments are false, although the motives are fear and the method’s are fear’s twin brother hate and their cousin anger, although they seek to shut out the noise of those who would examine what they see, although they would rage against their terrible, inevitable loss, they ultimately will collapse under the weight of their own fear. THe light will become too bright and they will retreat into their caves and gaze at the shadows of life cast on the rear wall, not dark enough to cover the art, handpainted on the walls that claims that there is a purpose that can be known.

And those of us that choose instead to follow the light, will have to find happiness only in the fact that it feels better to be happy. Not for any other reason. We can still see the hand of god, but we won’t be able to presume to know it’s motivations.

Yee Haw.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Contest Winner!

Andrew wins the guess the Passage contest from a while ago. Yeah Andrew and he even told us how to tell deuteronomy passages:
because it's a weird rule with horrifically violent punishments for breaking it.

I'm sorry it took so long Andrew but You can finally bask in the glory.

Science faces 'dangerous times'

In his final speech as president of the Royal Society, Lord May of Oxford will say scientists must speak out against the climate change "denial lobby". Here is the article.

THis article touched a nerve with me. I found it as a link on a blog by a guy calling himself "odograph" where he and I (I think it's a he) and a guy named ralph had a brief discussion. You can read that here.

Some of the things he says just make me want to cry when I think of what we partly are as a species. Other times I shrug it off to just the way things are. I, unfortunately possibly, have a hard time shrugging it off. It is the basic point of this whole blog. That no one seems to be commenting on it much leads me to wonder if I am in the minority. Nevertheless. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!

"There are serious problems that derive from the realities of the external world: climate change, loss of biological diversity, new and re-emerging diseases, and more.

"Many of these threats are not yet immediate, yet their non-linear character is such that we need to be acting today. "And we have no evolutionary experience of acting on behalf of a distant future; we even lack basic understanding of important aspects of our own institutions and societies.
"Sadly, for many, the response is to retreat from complexity and difficulty by embracing the darkness of fundamentalist unreason."

'Denial lobby'

Lord May will say that fundamentalism applies not only to organised religions but to lobby groups on both sides of the climate change debate.

The climate change "denial lobby" and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) opposed to nuclear power are not exempt from a denial or misrepresentation of scientific facts, he told reporters in London.

Monday, November 28, 2005

So I understand that I don’t understand God. That’s why I am doing all this reading. Ok, this is taking me nowhere. I don’t want proof, I want experience. Let’s try the next site, Let’s click the Nature and Attributes of God link. The summary reads “In this article, we proceed by deductive analysis to examine the nature and attributes of God to the extent required by our limited philosophical scope. We will treat accordingly of the infinity, unity, and simplicity of God, adding some remarks on Divine personality.” The material is pretty good.

When we say that God is infinite, we mean that He is unlimited in every kind of perfection or that every conceivable perfection belongs to Him in the highest conceivable way. In a different sense we sometimes speak, for instance, of infinite time or space, meaning thereby time of such indefinite duration or space of such indefinite extension that we cannot assign any fixed limit to one or the other. Care should be taken not to confound these two essentially different meanings of the term. Time and space, being made up of parts in duration or extension, are essentially finite by comparison with God's infinity. Now we assert that God is infinitely perfect in the sense explained, and that His infinity is deducible from His self-existence. For a self-existent being, if limited at all, could be limited only by itself; to be limited by another would imply causal dependence on that other, which the very notion of self-existence excludes. But the self-existing cannot be conceived as limiting itself, in the sense of curtailing its perfection of being, without ceasing to be self-existing. Whatever it is, it is necessarily; its own essence is the sole reason or explanation of its existence, so that its manner of existence must be as unchangeable as its essence, and to suggest the possibility of an increase or diminution of perfection would be to suggest the absurdity of a changeable essence. It only remains, then, to say that whatever perfection is compatible with its essence is actually realized in a self-existing being; but as there is no conceivable perfection as such -- that is, no expression of positive being as such -- that is not compatible with the essence of the self-existent, it follows that the self-existent must be infinite in all perfection. For self-existence itself is absolute positive being and positive being cannot contradict, and cannot therefore limit, positive being.

This general, and admittedly very abstract, conclusion, as well as the reasoning which supports it, will be rendered more intelligible by a brief specific illustration of what it involves.

Good. I need something a little more intelligible. Now they shine some light on what they mean:

(i) When, in speaking of the Infinite, we attribute all conceivable perfections to Him, we must not forget that the predicates we employ to describe perfections derive their meaning and connotation in the first instance from their application to finite beings; and on reflection it is seen that we must distinguish between different kinds of perfections, and that we cannot without palpable contradiction attribute all the perfections of creatures in the same way to God. Some perfections are such that even in the abstract, they necessarily imply or connote finiteness of being or imperfection; while some others do not of themselves necessarily connote imperfection.

Oh. Ok. Well then, on to the next site. Oh, oh, wait. There is a section on The Blessed Trinity, I have always sort of wondered how that works. I'll save that part for tomorrow's post.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Guess the Bible Passage of the Day

Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." 4Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
5From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
6from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
7from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
8from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

How Christianity Entered My Life As A Child

I knew two families with kids who were Christian. I just figured it was their flavor of insanity and didn’t think much of it. I guess I figured it was harmless. The only two times it ever entered my life were when my dad asked one of the neighbor kids if Jesus or Superman was stronger and when my other Christian friend and I read his Christian comic books up in his room. In hindsight, those were both pretty funny experiences. Riding home in the backseat of our Oldsmobile station wagon- the great big kind from the late sixties/ early seventies- and seven year old Billy was talking about Jesus. My dad asked him who was stronger, Jesus or Superman. Billy immediately answered “Jesus”. My dad responded, “but Superman can fly”. That stumped Billy. I wonder if he ever thought about that question again.

The other time, I was staying the night at my other Christian friend’s house, we read his Christian comics while he told me about god. The comics had the evil Satanists imbued with supernatural powers fueled by their blood sacrifices and so on pitted against the weak and lowly Christians who only had one power and it seemed like a pretty pathetic power to me. They could call on Jesus when they were captured by the powerful Satanists and the Satanists would die. The Satanist had super strength from their god. The Christians had squat. When I suggested to my friend that the Satanists seemed like they had the better deal, he replied, “but the Christians can kill the Satanists!” So the lesson I took away from that was avoiding Christians if you happen to be a Satanist. They want to kill you.

Enough clowning around.

Enough clowning around. I have a lot of ground to cover if I want to find out about god. It might take me a while and I have some background to catch up on.

You see, I was raised without official religion. I remember as a young child having to fill in the name of my church in school documents. (In those days that was important information for the school, like my credit score is now). My mom told me the name of the church we went to, but it was a lie. We’d never been to church. I take that back. According to my parents, I was taken to church once when I was two. I screamed the whole time in nursery school or wherever they take babies who might scream, and the nice lady who probably also ran the potlucks and other church functions asked my parents not to bring me back. And because that was a church close to home, the name of the church I was supposed to fill out was far away. One that none of the other kids in the school probably went to.

That was my first impression of religion; something you needed to tell people you did because they expected it of you. Not because you really did it. Religion is about filling in boxes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

When I type “God” into Google, I get this : “about 68,800,000 for god [definition]. (0.11 seconds)”. That means I got approximately sixty eight million, eight hundred thousand “hits” or references to god in Google’s database of the internet. If I click on the word “definition” I am transported to the site where I am given the definition :

A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.

b. The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being.

2. A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.

3. An image of a supernatural being; an idol.

4. One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god.

5. A very handsome man.

6. A powerful ruler or despot.

[Middle English, from Old English.]

Who’d have thought to go to a dictionary? The search took 0.11 seconds. Perhaps not surprisingly, when I type “sex” I get this: “about 91,400,000 for sex [definition]. (0.07 seconds)” where I get this definition:

1. Sex

a. The property or quality by which organisms are classified as female or male on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions.

b. Either of the two divisions, designated female and male, of this classification.

2. Females or males considered as a group.

3. The condition or character of being female or male; the physiological, functional, and psychological differences that distinguish the female and the male. See Usage Note at gender.

4. The sexual urge or instinct as it manifests itself in behavior.

5. Sexual intercourse.

6. The genitals.

tr.v., sexed, sex·ing, sex·es.

1. To determine the sex of (an organism).

2. Slang.

a. To arouse sexually. Often used with up.

b. To increase the appeal or attractiveness of. Often used with up.

[Middle English, from Latin sexus.]

Although sex outdoes god by two million, two hundred sixty thousand, “love” returned one hundred seventy nine million, outdoing sex by eighty seven million, six hundred thousand. If, as my wife claims, God is love, then God beats sex hands down. (Money had two hundred one million hits. Maybe you can buy love.)

Winner: Bible Passage of the Day!

13If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: 15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: 16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; 17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; 19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. 20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: 21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you. 22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. 23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

I will post a list of everyones name that correctly guesses the book in the bible that these passages come from.

Photo by modifiedenzyme

Friday, November 11, 2005

Pat Robertson- Can we just call him Crazy?

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God; you just rejected him from your city."So, um..., I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover, nice job voting out those morons.

So is ID really just religion in disguise? Do both biology and astronomy support ID? And who are these people promoting ID?
To answer those questions, we went to the Discovery Institute in Seattle, the major proponents of ID.

And to answer my burning question of whether burning fossil fuels is potentially harming the environment, I called the headquarters of ExxonMobile. The nice lady who answered the phone said it was just a bunch of hooey that some godless communists were spreading in an attempt to create dissention in this, the greatest nation on earth.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fox News is a little bit on the ... Um ...It seems a little nasty to me. It's funny because these guys at Cornell are actually starting a debate. The debate seems like maybe something like, "Is stereotyping blacks as criminals helpful? SHould we avoid blacks in general the same way we should avoid police, because they are potentially dangerous?"
What apparently irked Smith is an article in the American decrying the lack of media attention to black-on-white crime in the area.
Cornell American Article
Other interesting findings of the study include:
  1. Blacks are as much more dangerous than whites as men are more dangerous than women
  2. Blacks commit violent crimes at four to eight times the white rate. Hispanics commit violent crimes at approximately three times the white rate, and Asians at one half to three quarters the white rate
  3. There is more black-on-white than black-on-black violent crime
  4. Hispanics are a hate crime victim category but not a perpetrator category. Hispanic offenders are classified as white, which inflates the white offense rate and gives the impression that Hispanics commit no hate crimes.
If all of these numbers are correct, then why don’t we hear more about black-on-white crime from the media? The answer is because it would be deemed politically incorrect and racist to point out a minority’s shortcomings (i.e. a 70% illegitimacy rate, grossly disproportionate assault, murder, rape, and armed robbery rates, etc). Who’s to blame the media though? Such a gross detail of violence would most definitely spark NAACP backlash or Jesse Jackson tongue-lashings.

It is also common-knowledge that, regardless of one’s race, greater precaution is taken when traveling through black neighborhoods than white neighborhoods. In the words of prominent black economist Walter Williams, “I carry two friends with me when I go into New York [city]. And my friends are... Smith & Wesson.” So what is stopping people from realizing this and calling a spade a spade? The answer is nothing except the hesitation to “perpetuate stereotypes” and the possibility of being termed a racist because of it.
Anna Marie Smith' response:

We, the professors and administrators, are also responsible for creating the sort of enduring infrastructure that will enhance the power of the anti-hate voice, for we do not have a level playing field when it comes to free speech and the exchange of ideas. The Supreme Court has affirmed the legitimacy of our interest in genuine diversity — that is to say, the presence of a critical mass of individuals from groups that have faced historical discrimination. We should take The American incident as a reminder that we must re-double our effort to build a diverse university community that establishes a critical mass of African-American and Latino/a faculty, senior administrators, and students.

I normally don't wager into fox news territory much. I found this one above the J-word one. (worth a read) But something in it struck me as worth reading.
My experience in the Pacific Northwest has not left me with the feeling that blacks are especially dangerous, it's the cranksters we have to worry about here. Now there's a stereotype: People who fidgit like an earthquake, holes in their skin, hair falling out, teeth,- well, bad teeth, faint odor of formaldyhyde, and audibly grinding their bad teeth are more likely to steel, rob, urinate in public, die of infection and the like. So what's to stop us from calling that spade a spade. Or maybe in the case of the ones who have buck bad teeth, a rake. Or am I going over the same edge? It's all a little complicated. Anyway, it does seem in bad taste to phrase it the way they did but, hey, they're kids, right?

-peace out

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Some Kansans Are Shit-assed stupid.

"Kansas State Board Votes to Teach Intelligent Design in Schools"

"The board voted 6 to 4 in favor of the guidelines, which say schools should teach that doubt exists about the validity of evolution, a theory that originated with British biologist Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century." -Bloomberg
Can you imagine being one of theose 4? I mean, were they dragged away screaming and swinging their school district folding chairs? Jesus Fuckin-A Christ. I'd be pissed.

I added this picture I took of a trailer because it reminds me of the six jackasses that voted for stupidity and willfull ignorance. La La La La La La I can't Heeeaaar Yooouuuuu.