She’s A Material Girl … And A Particle Physicist

I know, you’re thinking I’ll never deliver on that title… amiright?


That might be a long way to go to get to thoughts on materialism, but I think they segue nicely.

philosophy : the belief that only material things exist
1 a :  a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that
all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations
or results of matter
b :  a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress
c :  a doctrine that economic or social change is materially caused — compare historical materialism
2 a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things

Okay, yes, that’s Merriam-Websters definition but there is a more specific philosophical definition:

Materialism is the idea that everything is either made only of matter or is ultimately dependent upon matter for its existence and nature. It is possible for a philosophy to be materialistic and still accord spirit a (secondary or dependent) place, but most forms of materialism tend to reject the existence of spirit or anything non-physical.

Some theists (and others) get caught up in the idea that materialists do not believe we have free will. Let me correct that for  you. In my opinion the right thinking materialists understand that consciousness is an emergent property and does not rely on billiard ball interaction between past and present to make decisions. The argument is clearly one fraught with issues on all sides. I maintain that we have free will because consciousness is not an elemental part of the physical world, rather it is an emergent property of parts of the physical world. It is dependent upon the physical world yet operates independently of it, at least in the ways we think are important: making decisions and experiencing the world etc.

Yes, I know Sam Harris said this or that, and he’s wrong on free will. Trust me, that’s another argument altogether.

Mind body dualism has a fair bit of dogma attached to it. It is neither necessary nor useful when explaining consciousness. Yes, I know you’ll want support for that but you’ll have to wait. I promise it’s coming. The point is that simply claiming materialism does not preclude you from understanding mammals to have free will. If it did, we would need proof that the mind is not an emergent property which acts in discord with the physical world – meaning that it acts with self agency rather than simply react to the physical world. It would be best if I could prove this, but currently we have no proof either way on free will for materialists. I do know that Sam Harris is wrong because he makes simple assumptions about a set of observations without considering the whole of the brain and how it works.  His views are like saying that vehicles are fuelled by passengers because they never go anywhere until there is a passenger in the vehicle.

In the quote above I highlighted ‘most forms’ for the reason that not all forms of non-physical are necessarily beyond the physical world. For instance (shout out to the philosophy students) red is immaterial but is only part of the physical world. Before you jump too far, the color red is only a problem for philosophers, physicists are quite alright with it. Philosophers are not an overly helpful lot. All this talk about brains and thinking yet not one of them can define what a thought is. They’ve had a pretty good run at it and just can’t get over that hurdle.

I’m a materialist and I know we have free will, all mammals do and probably even more species of life on this planet.



Why Is There Evil In The World?

Let’s start this out with the right perspective. Those who claim to know the most about evil are theists so let’s see what the Christian Bible says.

Isaiah 44:24 and Colossians 1:16-17

  1. God created all alone (Isaiah 44:24)–“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone.”

  2. All things created by/through Jesus (Colossians 1:16-17)–“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Well, that clears things up. The god God made everything of every description. There doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room to tack ‘except evil’ on the end of it.

Of course atheists have a lot to say about the ‘problem of evil’ and the issues surrounding arguments for and against. It is difficult to argue about something which is very poorly defined. Webster’s (my favorite) says:

adjective \ˈē-vəl, British often & US also ˈē-(ˌ)vil\

: morally bad
: causing harm or injury to someone
: marked by bad luck or bad events

1 a :  morally reprehensible :  sinful, wicked <an evil impulse>
b :  arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct <a person of evil reputation>

2 a archaic :  inferior
   b :  causing discomfort or repulsion :  offensive <an evil odor>
c :  disagreeable <woke late and in an evil temper>
3 a :  causing harm :  pernicious <the evil institution of slavery>
b :  marked by misfortune :  unlucky

Clearly it’s not so easy to define this word. Many people would define it as pain and suffering or the cause of pain and suffering. Whatever the definition we now know what the god God created it or allowed it to create itself. This is all problematic for a number of reasons.

  • It is difficult to discuss unless all parties agree to the meaning.
  • All parties will not always agree to the meaning.
  • Some people think anything that is not “godly” is evil, whatever godly means.

I’ve got a different view. There is no evil. That explains why it can’t be defined well enough for everybody to agree on the definition. Aside from the fact that there are no gods, there is also no “opposer” or satan or evil. Existence simply is. It does not care about humans nor morality. Evil, pain, suffering, wrong doing: all these exist or seem to because we humans (theists mostly) are trying to impose a made up set of standards for what is good and what is not. We do this from a completely anthropocentric position. Theists try to impose what they call absolute morality which does not consider any animals other than humans. It is hardly absolute then. We can clearly see that many animals exhibit moral actions and emotions.

Any definition of evil has to compliment a definition of morality and good. Any definitions of either that do not account for the morality we see in other animals is incomplete at best and at worst a mere human contrivance to serve the speaker’s own ends.

There is no evil in the world as theists would define it, there is only pain and suffering and that is what we expect to see in a harsh cold unforgiving universe that does not care about our species one way or the other. The universe is unfolding as it should and unless we all work together we will remain caught in the trap of delusion and superstition, slaves of ignorance.

So how do you define evil? I want to know.


Why People Mass Re-blog

Why People Mass Re-blog.


Because recursion is awesome

Five Is A Magic Number

I used to think so as a child, at least for a time. I also thought that perhaps 7 was a magic number too. By magic I thought that there was some special significance to the number. I didn’t have any knowledge of numerology or the significance of numbers in Judaism. I simply looked at the  world around me and all of the animal life I knew of had five extremities on their torso. Yeah, I knew about spiders but they were creepy crawly things so they didn’t count. Little did I know then that they didn’t count because they were on the wrong branch of the tree. So many animals and humans have the same basic body plan that I thought there must be some magic significance. Well, there is and it’s called evolution. It’s not magic but to a 5 year old or some theists it might as well be. It’s one of the successful body plans for life on this planet. It’s not magic yet it is magical on some level that so many species should have the same basic plan.

There are a number of things that I have thought must have some magic quality in the time I’ve been alive. As it turns out none of them had magic qualities. It’s just how life is, how it evolved. Even whales have that body plan but several of the limbs  have been re-purposed over time as fins because it’s more effective. It seems like I’ve been doing science all my life. Observe, hypothesize, test, learn, change the hypothesis and repeat. Evolution made immediate sense to me when I realized (some years older) that the 5 point body plan is so popular because we all started out with a common ancestor that had a 5 point body. Why it is that this can make sense to a child but not adults baffled me for a very long time. To me it simply ‘just made sense’ that evolution explained the commonalities.

It doesn’t take long to find out why:

US Religious denominations that dispute evolution

On the other hand, in the U.S., many Protestant denominations promote creationism, preach against evolution from the pulpits, and sponsor lectures and debates on the subject. A list of denominations that explicitly advocate creationism instead of what they call “Darwinism” or evolution include the Assemblies of God,[80] the Free Methodist Church, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod,[81] Pentecostal Churches, Seventh-day Adventist Churches,[82] Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, Christian Reformed Church, Southern Baptist Convention,[83] and the Pentecostal Oneness churches.[84] Jehovah’s Witnesses reject both evolution and creationism.[85]

That’s right. Religion makes it okay to believe in magic. Take that in. Believing in your imaginary friend as a child is one thing but believing in magic as an adult means that you must deny the truth if it conflicts with your imaginary friend no matter how much evidence there is to support the truth. Those listed above do not simply deny the truth and facts, they actively admonish people to not believe them. This is akin to teaching children that the world is flat or the Sun revolves around the Earth. It is knowingly wrong and people who believe these things (flat-earthers etc.) are properly ridiculed and ostracized.

It’s time we stopped believing in magic and started ridiculing those who do and rebuking those who teach it to children. It is harmful to our future well being and currently deprives millions of people their right to happiness, health, or life.

What an unimaginative creator this supposed god of Christianity is. He only came up with a short list of body plans and made some of them so poorly that those animals are no longer in existence. Everything he is supposed to have created is messed up and so haphazard as to look like an accidental mutation of previous things. Evolution is the only explanation that makes sense. It’s not magic, it’s biology. How fortunate I am that I live in a time when this is understood and I don’t have to accept the idea of an invisible sky daddy who works in mysterious ways. We humans have worked for hundreds of thousands of years to acquire this knowledge and I go through my days thinking of it a birthright, a debt owed to me. In the next hundred years we’ll learn more than has been learned in all of human existence so far. I’m sad that I probably won’t be around to know it too.

Life is not magical, but the experiencing of it has a kind of magical feeling. For me, numbers are no longer magic, but there is a wonderment I feel when I read about how many stars there are in this universe. Billions and billions of chances that there is someone, perhaps a lot like me, somewhere else in this universe thinking thoughts much like my own: knowing that the universe is not made for us and our best hope is to reach out and work together to find better ways to survive, thrive, and build great things.


Hitler Can’t Help You

or why Christian apologetic arguments that use Hitler as an example are self refuting and circular.

I’ve written about this before here  and here  but I think this video does a better job of showing how the argument of biblical morality is circular and dangerous.

Enjoy.  Please feel free to comment whether you think this is correct or not. The circular biblical morality discussion needs to be out in the open more often.


The Soul Of Humanity: Spiritual Belief For Non-Believers

Where oh where are thou, soul of humanity?

Over the ages mankind has cried out into the darkness looking for the soul of his kind. They have sought it under every rock which can be identified, each human searching under them in succession like bees in an arboritum.

The soul of humanity is not to be found in a search. It will not be found at all. All that can be called the soul of humanity will be cast upon you like a robe you did not intend to wear when you seek not to find the soul but to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, protect the weak and befriend the lonely. In doing these things you’ll find that the robe will not come off no matter how you try because you’ll have found your humanity, your human dignity, your soul by giving it to others.

We may at times call this the law of reciprocity, or the golden rule among other things. What you cannot do is cheat it, any attempt to do so harms only you. Likewise, any attempt to keep this law helps you in amplified ways just as feeding the poor slakes a hunger inside your mind that you might not have ever know about till you gave your winter stores to a stranger.

There is no soul or spirituality except what hits you in the face when you’re trying to give yours away to others.

The Immorality Of Immortality: Why Forever Takes So Long

American Heathen has a post entitled The Immorality Of Immortality in which they ask “If it were possible to become immortal, would you do it? Would you step boldly into a life of eternal existence? If so, have you considered the ramifications, the consequences of living forever?”

I encourage you to go read their post but here I’m going to answer the question.

I don’t imagine that many people think of immortality much differently than American Heathen. I doubt many feel as I do but then I see life a little bit differently than most seem to.

When I was a kid, life seemed to go so slow and I got bored. Now, later in life, it goes so fast and I have no time at all. No time for the things I want to do or accomplish, not for the pleasures I’d like to experience. There is not even enough time for the very simple things that I can’t seem to get bored with. I would like for time to not be part of the equation for me. Oh, I know there would be problems and AmericanHeathen seems to cover the problems I can think of plus a few that I don’t think would be a problem in my case.

Between the birth of my great grandparents and myself the world has changed more than ever imagined by kings or popes. Because the world has come so far in that time, my grandchildren will never be able to or need to go back… we hope. I can; I can go back. I can travel there and be okay. I stand on the shoulders of giants to reach farther than they yet I watched them, learned what they knew as handed down knowledge from their family lineages. I am both their peer and their patron. I am thrust at the future by their hands, never having left their hearths. My mind is timeless in a sense. I remember their tales as if they were my own and mine as if they were theirs. Yet I yearn for more knowledge, more experiences as if my body is addled with the stuff and craves more. My thirst for more knowledge and experience frustrates me because I cannot cram enough information into my head fast enough for the little time I have in this life. Sometimes the information I try to jam inside my head does not stick so well. I’d really like to have a jack in the back of my head to make the job easier.

There are millions of experiences that I’ve not had yet, and that is just in this country. I’ve also not been into space, to another world or galaxy,  nor have I had a beach side cookout on a planet with two moons. The number of things I’ve not experienced yet but could is as large as the universe.

We meekly admit to ourselves that we’ll never know all there is to know and many of us give up trying. I do not no matter how vain the attempt might be. I want to know everything.

If somewhere along the line I stop being what some might define as human I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being different. I’m sure there is an Aesop’s fable just waiting to hit me in the face here. Never mind. I don’t want to be mere human. I do want to know everything. If that seems heretical, so what? I want to compose music, mine for fun and profit on comets, design warp engines, dine at 7 star restaurants at the end of time and on and on. 80 years is not enough. 80 million years is not enough.

I have a modicum of pity for those that think they would get bored. My mum used to tell us as kids ‘go outside and play if you’re bored’ and that is what I’d do if I were immortal. Send me to Mars… I’ve not been there yet. Let me learn millions of foreign languages from millions of planets. Let me perform magic for the emperor of a galaxy, dance with the princess of 4 worlds and on and on. Let me broker peace between worlds, discover unknown life forms, map vast sections of the universe, find it’s edges. Let me be everything at one time or another.

For those that think immortality is for crazy people, I say that you have no considered the possibilities of infinite experience and reward. The thought that humans are alone in the universe is astoundingly arrogant. There are other life forms, other intelligences. I want to meet and know them. Our future is limited only by  our imagination’s limitations. Mine is not so limited as to think I’d get bored. I’ve always been a bit more industrious than that.

Yes, I know the title doesn’t seem to match, but I wanted a direct relation to the original post that asked the question.

Forever takes so long… well, only if you’re sitting around waiting for it. If you’re busy being out and about and re-arranging the universe, time flies and forever comes along way too soon.





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