Archive for the ‘ rights ’ Category

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The never ending discussion on the compatibility between science and religion asks if they can get along and coexist. The argument, no matter how it is stated, comes down to this: Science has facts, religion has faith. As long as religion has faith it will remain incompatible with both science and reality. Believers might argue that their faith is compatible with science yet they will not allow for someone else’s faith being compatible with their own. When believers can’t even get their ‘faith’ coherent but decide to disagree with the best method we have of knowing the world around us then it is completely incompatible with science.

A religion that is not incompatible with science would be one that requires no faith. Would that be a religion?

Can’t we all just get along?

NO, we can’t as long as you are unwilling to be a full participant in reality.

Before anyone thinks I’m calling all believers stupid, just stop. This is a reaction to the discussion of compatibility and not simply your particular point of view. That said, if you want to feel offended, that is your prerogative, just don’t expect an apology.

 

 

On The Meaning Of Life

There is much to be said and much that has been said about the meaning of life. When you peel back all the layers you are left with the primordial combination of eat, drink, reproduce, breath, sleep, and repeat… not necessarily in that order. I think that you’ll find this is the basic life plan for all forms of life on this planet if you allow for some loose definitions of each directive.

The really good question to ask next is what happens when we are trying to accomplish these seemingly simple tasks?

Again, I feel that the rules are fairly simple or can be stated so:

  1. Acquire a foe
  2. Study the foe and find a weakness
  3. Use that weakness to destroy the foe

This is true where foe is one of:

  • something or someone that has what you need or want
  • something or someone that wants or needs what you have
  • something or someone that would prevent you from acquiring the thing(s) that you want or need

Clearly step 1 is easy to do as it can be done without any effort on your part at all. Step 2 is a bit trickier but evolution made cats fast so they could exploit a weakness in gazelles etc. Some species will evolve to exploit a weakness, though this is not a directed action. All predators find and exploit weakness in their prey. Now when it comes to step 3 things get a bit different. If we define ‘destroy’ as genocide it’s not really workable but if we define it as destroy until the foe is not capable of being a foe it becomes more realistic. When our need stops the foe is no longer a foe and so it goes.

There is  nothing unique to any given species in this… it’s a basic plan.

Greed is not part of the basic plan and this is seemingly unique to the hairless ape species called homo sapiens. A misnomer if ever there was one.

Homo sapiens (Latin: “wise man“) is the scientific name for the human species. Homo is the human genus, which also includes Neanderthals and many other extinct species of hominid; H. sapiens is the only surviving species of the genus Homo. Modern humans are the subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens, which differentiates them from what has been argued to be their direct ancestor, Homo sapiens idaltu.

Most of our philosophies do not advise material wealth as the meaning of life. This basic nature plan does not advise it. Greed is a disease or something like that. A defect of the human brain.

This Made Me Cry…

Laughing….

 

 

Dear Mr Putin,

Please learn what the word decorum means to most of the rest of the world.

We don’t care about your religion. We want to see sports. If your little country can’t handle it… well, no point in letting you host the games now is there?

Internet Safety For Students, Everyone, And You Too

myatheistlife:

Internet safety alert….. yes, it’s for you stupid

Originally posted on Not about everything:

Sharing this, because it seems an interesting lesson.

I am teaching E-safety to my pupils at the moment and wanted to try a little experiment. Please share this photo and see how far it gets, I want to show my students how easily photos etc can go viral, even when you may not want them to. Share it and see how far it goes!

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View original

Doing Harm With A Smile… The Good Of Religious Belief

First, Do No Harm…

This maxim has questionable origin yet its value is beyond mere origin. No cure is acceptable if it causes more harm. We could discuss this at length if desired but I simply want to state it as a premise for the rest of this piece. This maxim does not specify how much harm, only that doing harm is not the method or manner to a cure in its usage generally.

One might rightly ask ‘what is harm’ when evaluating this. It’s common sense to know that cutting off a foot to cure an in-grown toe nail is not in keeping with the maxim, even if it relieves the pain of the toe nail. Clearly, long term harm is not acceptable as a cure for short term ills. I think most or all of us will find this as an acceptable maxim or a kind of truth for every day life.

With that premise fairly stated, let’s jump right in to the discussion here.

There are a great many people who blog or write on the Internet that think they are doing good for people. Mind you, the good they think they are doing is a subjective opinion not shared by all of humanity, rather it is an opinion shared by a very small portion of humanity. Still, they believe they are doing good so spread their ‘knowledge’ of how things work in order to spread good among the world. Many even offer advice or suggestions for how to make life better, how to live a better life, or simply how to enjoy life better.

Is their subjective opinion useful? Some think so. Is it beneficial on more than one level? Some think so. How do we judge good from harm? This is a subjective (even if it seems universal) process for good does not mean the same things in all circles. There are some that think they know what objective good is but can’t show evidence of such a thing as absolute objective good. So what can it mean then to ‘first do no harm’ ?

Thus begins a series of analytical looks at well intentioned religious posts from around the WP blogosphere. I’m going to start with a post that seems to be promoting a policy or ethic which I’m not familiar with: Doctrine of Vocation?

We start off with a valid question and a scripture quote. All things in the holy book are true is the premise for such a beginning. This one is reminiscent of a divine teddy bear picnic. Let’s see what it says:

WHY CAN’T I BE CONTENT AT WORK?

“Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” (Genesis 2:5-9, NIV)

All believers who believe the holy text to be completely true will draw conclusions from this. They are not necessarily correct conclusions, but this is their interpretation:

God created Utopia from nothing. He created a world which was pure, clean, and beautiful and gave it to man to take care of. God was a worker. He created man in His own image – to work the land and care for His new world. God saw a vision of men and women working in harmony, worshiping Him and glorifying Him in everything they did. He saw a peaceful world filled with love and beauty.

Here we have the unabashed statement that something can come from nothing, but it requires magic. Some how we are to believe that this god worked hard, even though he simply speaks things into existence and nothing that exists is not his creation. Further there is an assumption about this god’s intent which bends the understanding toward the writer’s intent for the lesson. “men and women working in harmony” is not what religion brings us today, no, far from it. But let’s skip reality here, there is a lesson to preach. Wait, I know you want to understand what this has to do with truth or honest understanding of the world… well, nothing that I can discern. Still, it is the premise of the lesson so let’s bear with it.

So why has that which God designed to be so majestic often become so mundane – so meaningless? Why all the confusion  about our work? Why can’t we relax and enjoy our jobs? Whatever our jobs are, no matter how ordinary they seem, they can be extraordinary and brimming with God-honoring importance and significance if they are done well and for the glory of God.

So the lesson comes as resultant from the premise that the writer understands the mind of a god. Right here we see damage and harm being done. The hapless reader is to assume and adjust their thinking that it is possible to know the mind of a god, that gods are real, and that the purpose in life has been set down in an ancient book. So what are we learning here:

  1. Gods are real
  2. We are here through the use of magic
  3. There is a purpose to life because it says so in a book
  4. This writer knows that purpose because he knows the mind of a god

These rules for life are dangerous. No matter that they might make some folk feel good, they are dangerous. The authors of Interactive Philosophy blog have nailed down why this is harmful. If we base our understanding of the world on a rule such as ‘magic works’ we can make all kinds of bad decisions. If we believe simply because we are told to then anything that perverts the course of the god’s plan is counter to survival and this will cause us to make very bad decisions. Check out “The Dazzle of Convictions” post.

If we are discovering the rich and robust doctrine of vocation for the first time, we might be tempted to see it as a passing Christian fad. In our more cynical moments, we might wonder whether all this talk about work is merely the latest hype in an often shallow, populist Christian faith. Though this kind of thinking about work may be new to you, let me assure you that the language and doctrine of Christian vocation is not faddish but foundational to an integral Christian faith. A right understanding of vocation has been a transforming truth in the day-to-day ordinary lives of faithful followers of Jesus for many centuries. Vocation is a robust theology of ordinary, everyday life.

Just because people have been ‘apparently’ following this doctrine for a long time does not make it true, correct, useful, or harmless. An appeal to popularity or authority is nothing but an attempt to manipulate the reader. It says that the lesson is true and to be trusted because other people have used it. This is harmful because it urges the reader to abandon evidence based judgement and this is harmful as it will encourage further ignorance of evidence based judgement in other areas of life.

What can you do to bring a little excitement back into you job? Try praying. Try studying the word of God. Quit complaining. Do your very best in everything you do. Make sure the path you are taking is a path that honors God and not one that turns you further away from Him.

Here we see the real harm done. Do not seek actual methods of finding happiness or contentment. Turn toward your imaginary friend and ignore the facts of life. Persevere in unhappiness to glorify the god. Be content as slaves and glorify the god. Do not seek to change your life or job or do anything which would alter your situation, simply internalize this unhappiness and situation as your fault and pray to the god to help you feel better about your shitty life. Why should the reader do this?

Happiness and contentment come when we find ourselves living closer to our Father and further from those things that bring us down.

Enjoy your day, “Working for Christ!”

Support the church, believe in magic, pay your tithes, quit complaining, be a good slave. More than that, be a happy slave. Never do anything to improve your own little piece of the world never mind the parts of the world that are outside your reach. Suffer in silence and let the god take care of the rest of the world, it’s not your problem for you are broken and can’t even fix your own world. Shhhhhh do as I say.

If you tell a child they are worthless and stupid often enough that child will believe it is true. This type of lesson we see in this post is the equivalent of that constant derision. How can we expect those that believe they are broke and must trust their church leaders for wisdom to make good decisions. They know nothing of fixing the world’s problems nor of taking responsibility for their culpability in them.

This simple feel good happy shiny lesson is harmful to those that believe it. That in turn is harmful to the rest of us because those people will be the weak link in the chain of society, they will hold the rest of us back. Be certain, this message is not a positive message. It does not lift the spirits of those reading it. It tells the reader they are powerless to change things and so must simply smile and be a good slave. Those slaves vote. They are everywhere around us making changes to the lives the rest of us live. They would take away your rights to ensure their god’s apparent wishes are met. Slaves serve their masters and these masters do not want you to have the life you want unless the life you want is that of slave to their god.

The Review? Something New For A Change…

I asked a simple question of my readers. The response was about what I had thought it would be.

Can someone please show me a case in the last few months of child sexual abuse / assault that does not involve a priest, pastor, or some religion related individual?

When I tried to get some actual numbers myself I found some interesting statistics.

Information on Catholic sex abuse cases is about what you think it would be but with some surprise conclusions if you’ll allow some lateral thinking.

  • Apparently the Catholic clergy are not the only religious organization to fail to stop sex abuse by their employees
  • Catholicism does not decrease the incidence of sex abuse among its adherents
  • There are a lot of theories as to why sex abuse is so high among the Catholic clergy
  • The Catholic church has hidden sex abuse cases all over the planet

For a bit of information about other clerical sex abuse I found a couple of other seemingly reasonable sources:

Here is a list of resources to study on if you want to know more about sex abuse by clergy where there are varying reports and statistics, some stating that as much as 20% of clergy are violating ethical bounds regarding sexually oriented conduct.

This page at Baylor.edu starts with this summary

The Prevalence of Clergy Sexual Misconduct with Adults: A Research Study
Executive Summary

Diana R. Garland*

This research study involved two companion projects: (1) a national random survey to determine the prevalence of clergy sexual misconduct (CSM) with adults; and (2) a qualitative study of three groups of women and men: (a) those who self-identified as survivors who had been the objects of CSM, (b) family or friends of survivors, and (c) offenders who had themselves committed CSM. The goal of both projects was to define the scope and nature of CSM, so that effective prevention strategies can be proposed for the protection of religious leaders and congregants.

General Statistics of the Research:

  • national, random survey conducted in 2008 with 3,559 respondents
  • phone interviews with 46 persons who had experienced clergy sexual misconduct as adults, representing 17 different Christian and Jewish religious affiliations
  • phone interviews with 15 persons who were second-hand victims of CSM (husbands, friends and other church staff members); and with 21 experts (non-offending religious leaders, researchers, and professionals who provide care for survivors and offenders)

The Prevalence of CSM

We used the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS) to estimate the prevalence of clergy sexual misconduct. This is an in-person survey of a nationally representative sample of noninstitutionalized English- or Spanish-speaking adults, conducted by National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. The 2008 survey included 3559 respondents. Although the GSS is an in-person interview, the questions we developed specifically for this project were self-administered, making it easier for respondents to report potentially painful or embarrassing experiences.

Clergy sexual misconduct was defined in this study as:

Minister, priests, rabbis, or other clergypersons or religious leaders who make sexual advances or propositions to persons in the congregations they serve who are not their spouses or significant others.

Of those surveyed:

  • More than 3% of women who had attended a congregation in the past month reported that they had been the object of CSM at some time in their adult lives;
  • 92% of these sexual advances had been made in secret, not in open dating relationships; and
  • 67% of the offenders were married to someone else at the time of the advance.
  • In the average American congregation of 400 persons, with women representing, on average, 60% of the congregation, there are, on average of 7 women who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct.
  • Of the entire sample, 8% report having known about CSM occurring in a congregation they have attended. Therefore, in the average American congregation of 400 congregants, there are, on average, 32 persons who have experienced CSM in their community of faith.

Of course, CSM does not occur evenly across congregations, but these statistics demonstrate the widespread nature of CSM and refutes the commonly held belief that it is a case of a few charismatic and powerful leaders preying on vulnerable followers. In the nonrandom qualitative study that occurred concurrently with the survey, survivors hailed from 17 different Christian and Jewish affiliations: Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Seventh Day Adventist, Disciples of Christ, Latter Day Saints, Apostolic, Calvary Chapel, Christian Science, Church of Christ, Episcopal, Friends (Quaker), Mennonite, Evangelical, Nondenominational (Christian), and Reform Judaism.

There is a few things that I can conclude on a personal basis from this short bit of armchair research

  • Religious clergy are NOT an unquestionably good source of morality, no matter what they say in public
  • Religion does not make you a good person
  • Religion does not police its own ranks in any appreciable way
  • Religious groups are not protected from normal human desires in any way, their gods and prayers do not seem to protect them at all, not even from themselves.
  • Religions, for all their teaching, cannot make people moral, not even for the time they are in supposed holy buildings
  • Religious faith, despite all its claims, does not show any appreciable value. Those who claim to be most pious are not even highly likely to be free of the failures of even the most immoral among our species, never mind guaranteed to be free of them.

It is reasonable to then conclude that advice from the clergy has no more or less weight than advice from a good friend or trusted counsellor. This fact/idea, in and of itself, removes any value that the clergy and religion might pretend to have for society. Worse yet, the pretence that the clergy are honorable and trustworthy makes them a danger to society. We cannot be certain which of the clergy would abuse our children and friends so it is clearly wise to approach all clergy with the same trepidation that we approach all strangers.

If you are female and wander through life wondering what man will next sexually assault you, don’t forget to include the clergy. If you are worried about stranger danger for your children, don’t leave them alone at church. The clergy are no more trustworthy than any other human being on the face of the planet. Given the ration of clergy to other humans, they are statistically less trustworthy on a random sampling of both.

Think about it: 10% of the clergy you know are highly likely to be sexual predators…. so you know 5 clerics? Do you really think that half a person is valid? No, it’s probably certain that at least one of them should not be trusted with your children, wife, husband, son etc. I say that not because these people are incapable of defending themselves but because they have been trained since birth to ‘trust’ the clergy to tell them what is right and wrong. Clearly not all of the clergy anywhere in the world are capable of doing that in an objectively morally good way.

Something New For A Change… A Challenge

Can someone please show me a case in the last few months of child sexual abuse / assault that does not involve a priest, pastor, or some religion related individual?

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

I also have over 400 followers…

Just four generations ago, being heard around the world would be unthinkable. Today my words are read around the globe, not figuratively, but literally. I and you, are part of history. Be proud of that.

I don’t think the rest is necessary for this. I had never imagined that there would be that many people interested in what I have to say about the world. Truly, I would not. Roughly an average of 35 views per day. That’s much more than I hoped for. I’m very happy about this.. and surprised.

I want to thank everyone that enjoys my writings and stops by now and then to read or comment or both. It’s been a fun year and I hope 2014 is a bunch more of the same. I’m going to try to focus a bit more on theory of mind and AI this year. My interest in these are peaking lately. I hope that you’ll enjoy what I come up with.

Last, but not least, I hope that all of you have a good year. Not because I think that is some special thing, but because I truly would like if we could all have a good life…

Let’s find out how this turns out… 3… 2… 1…

Here Is A Prophecy For You…

It always cofounds me. Believers in the god of Abraham will tell you they have free will but then turn around and tell you the end times are already decided, what will happen to satan and yhwh as well as what they will do. This is not free will for if even the deity is predestined to perform certain acts then the souls of all who hope to enter heaven have been predestined to go to either heaven or hell and not one bit of arguing or complaining will change it. From this we can determine that prayer and worship are useless…

Think About It For A Minute …

Think for a minute about the single minded consumption that the god of Abraham demands.

  • Kill your child – Genesis 22 and Judges 11
  • Cut your genitals off – all over the Old Testament
  • Sacrifice your Wealth – Matthew 19:24
  • Sacrifice your family and belongings – Job

These are just the tip of the iceberg here. The idea here is that to be a good follower or worshiper of YHWH you must be fully consumed by single minded obedience and dedication to winning a slave’s life for eternity at his feet. Do any evil asked of you, even to the ones you love and care for, so that you can spend eternity in paradise.

Is there a more self centered and selfish act of evil ever known in the history of humanity than to murder your own child in the name of a faceless god and the pursuit of a better next life?

Perhaps your sect does not promote such behavior but if you’re a christian adherent this is what your god asks of you… that you be so selfishly focused on obedience that you would commit any kind of atrocity in pursuit of your god’s love for eternity… that you be willing to trade your dignity and self worth to gain a ticket to heaven.

You can claim ‘new covenant’ all you want. Your unchanging god is the very Jesus christians worship and at once is he the very god who demands such evil be present in you.

Thoughts?

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