If “God” Didn’t Exist

myatheistlife:

Now this is a very good thought. The world we see looks exactly as we would expect if we _knew_ there were no gods.

Originally posted on food for thought:

If “God” didn’t exist what would be different?

If believers thought that some deity existed according to the claims of an ancient book, and acted as though it was true, even though it really wasn’t, what should we expect to see?

If there wasn’t really a god:

  • Would some prayers appear to be positively answered, and some not?
  • Would some sick believers die and some sick believers live?
  • Could the answers to prayer rely on confirmation bias?
  • Could confirmations of a god’s will rely on confirmation bias?
  • Would people have to rationalize doctrines that didn’t make sense or agree with reality?
  • Would people need to interpret communication from other humans that claimed to speak for a god?
  • Could people misinterpret what they think god wants?
  • Would there be a lot of different groups of believers that believed different things because of interpretation?
  • Could a non-existent god’s “word” be mistranslated, misinterpreted…

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We’re focusing on the wrong police officer

myatheistlife:

We all missed this the first time around….

Originally posted on :

by Guest Blogger Tom Haswell

There’s been a lot of coverage on the McKinney pool party, from both sides. I’m generally pretty critical of police, but right now, I want to shame both sides on this one.

Why?

Because they’re all focusing on the wrong officer.

Let’s look at Officer 227, first initial E. I cannot make out last name on the footage. This is who we should be talking about.

Notice around the fifty second mark. Officer 227 calmly speaks to people on the scene, explaining why they shouldn’t “take off running” when the police arrive — no abusive language, no demeaning tone … he could be talking to a family member. He politely thanks the boys that return police property to him. He not only backs up his fellow officer who drew, but tells him “you stay here, I’ll get him” regarding the person he drew on — who…

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I’m Tired Of This Bullshit

Here it is, watch the full glory of it, then let’s talk about it. I have some experience with McKinney Texas. Full disclosure, I live in McKinney.

Nobody got tased, nobody was shot, there were no riot police, nobody was beaten. There are no signs of abusive physical behavior.

I know about McKinney Texas. It ranks in the top ten places to live for as many years. These people (black and white and hispanic) are among the most coddled people on the planet. The live in one of the best places of one of the best countries on the entire planet. You might argue but it would be pointless. These people have the lives of the most privileged on the planet. The poor people in McKinney Texas are hispanic. These black people involved live in very affluent neighborhoods. This is one of the last places you will see white on black crime or even black on anything crime. There is no crime in McKinney Texas except for personal property theft/damage. It is nearly utopian in many ways. These people are coddled and treated as though they deserve it.

That is not to say that nobody in McKinney ever has a bad opinion or ever gets hard done by. It is to say that McKinney _IS_ one of the top 5 places in the top country to live on this planet and that doesn’t happen with racist cops running loose. Kids are kids. They aren’t always very smart. In the video you see some actually running from cops. This action is NEVER a good idea. If you simply talk to them they will not have reason to worry or handcuff you or detain you. The video shows the police acting very civil toward anyone not being uncooperative.

You can find videos of several people telling the world (including the girls cousin) that this is not about race. It’s about teens behaving badly and showing zero respect for the police. I have met and talked to several of the police officers here. They are genuinely nice people even if their view of the world is skewed necessarily by their job responsibilities.

Toward the end of the video you see that the cop is not holding her down. He did so only as long as it was needed. I won’t argue that he did not appear or seem aggressive but I don’t think he reacted more than was called for in the situation. He was called to the scene because a fight was reported… actual violence was what he was there to respond to.

It does not matter what color you are. If you want to run your mouth and show disrespect to a man amped up on adrenaline with a gun then bad things can happen. Watch how many people were told to simply go away or go home and did not listen.

Being that I live in McKinney I know that this party was not just at the pool. It started the night before. There were drugs involved (big deal, meh) and sex among the teens and all the reckless party stuff you can imagine goes with end of school antics. The real problem is that these teens (color does not matter here) showed no respect for the community, other people, security, or the cops. What do you think is going to happen when you mouth off at a policeman? That policeman will do what he is trained to do… control the situation in order to protect others. That fucking stupid teen girl ran her mouth off at a man with a gun and a butt load of adrenaline. She should be arrested just for being stupid.

There is no race problem in McKinney. My friends are free and feel free to talk about racial issues. My friends and neighbors are a different color than me, my golf buddies are a different color than me. There are no race problems in McKinney Texas except for the problem of some few individuals wanting to call this a race problem. It isn’t. This is just teens showing no respect for anyone and getting taught a lesson in how to communicate with police officers.

The community of McKinney Texas is quite an awesome and good community. It has built a community based on diversity through equal treatment. The biggest problem that I’ve seen is drug use in the high schools. There is very little crime, very little racial anything. To think this is a racial incident is to completely NOT know McKinney Texas.

Why Praying Is Hard

It used to be easy for me when I believed that it did something useful. Then I wondered why an omniscient creator god needed to hear from me to guide his perfect plan. Then I wondered why his perfect plan included so much pain and suffering in the world. Then I learned statistics.

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On any given day there will be a sizable portion of the population of which it can be said “it sucks to be you.” It’s hard to remember that when it’s my day to have a sucky life. These days are the ones that I used to pray about. It never did any good. Sometimes, drinking few fingers of Scotch and playing with my dogs makes it better. Some days there is nothing for it but a few aspirin and more sleep than normal.

In the end, no matter what your philosophical position is, none of us have it all figured out. Some days or weeks just suck, badly.
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When that happens, I try to meditate, relax, remind myself that it will pass because it will pass. I’m not talking about first world problems or fears about imaginary things. I’m talking about real life that grabs me and shakes me and won’t let go till I somehow figure out how to solve the problem. Without a solution at hand it often enough feels like a good scotch and some tearful moments will fix things. Perhaps even an attempt to ignore them will do it. Sadly, nothing like that really works.

Instead of prayer I sit and talk with myself. Amazingly there is a sound thinking part of me willing to have the conversation. I complain and that other part of me tells me it’s just one of those days so buck up sunshine, till you do something nothing will change. It would be nice to have a skydaddy that would fix it all for me but there is none. Even when I pretended there was, it was me that did all the hard work.
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If I can do this anyone can. I’m juggling 153 things at once and I just want to put some of them down. No such luck. I just have to soldier on. Writing this is not helping me do any of them but it is allowing me to have that internal conversation that I need. Do a few more things tonight, wake up, shower, do some more of them. Keep doing that till there is room to breathe or sleep. That is all I have. It’s the only plan I’ve got. The weight on my shoulders will not go away till I shed it myself. Praying would not fix it. In fact, praying would be no more effective than me writing this post.

That’s how this nihilist anti-theist does it.

How do you deal with shitty days?

How To Think Like A Baby, Why That Is A Good Idea

That title can lead a lot of places so some of you may be wondering where this is going to go. Well, it’s movie night or at least video night. I’ve got two videos for you to watch on the topic of babies and what or how they think.I know that 45 minutes is a long time to carve out of your day but I think both of these are worth watching. The second one can be understood with just the audio for the most part.

Some of my regular readers will be aware that I think we humans are meat machines with grand computers between our ears. I’ll go ahead and say it here, we are born blank slates with no reason to even think there are imaginary or invisible beings that created all that is existence. This first video goes a long way to explaining why we might be thinking there are gods by the time we are 5 years old.

Our brains are given to us with little to no meta-data about the world. We do not know red or round or hot or that sometimes all three belong to the same object. These are things we must learn as children. We learn from our parents and our surroundings. When all we know insists that there is an invisible being that created all existence and watches when we masturbate it is completely natural that our brains would accept this as true. The experiments in the first video hint at this without going that far.

In the second video the speaker talks about babies doing something that we like to call critical thinking. Don’t rule out options a priori, explore the evidence and then make a decision.

Our brains are brilliant at several things and from the time we open our eyes (if not before) they are doing just that. One of those things I think is hugely important to intelligence is to acquire and assign meta data about the objects we find in the world around us so that we can simulate those objects in our brain. Linguists study how we use communication as do authors and others. When I say “I like driving my vehicle except when other drivers are careless” I have communicated an incomplete idea. Your human brain will, in an attempt to simulate the idea in your brain, assign ‘reasonable’ meta data to the objects in the story. You will have done one or more of the following as you read that sentence:

  • envisioned what kind of vehicle I drive
  • where I am driving
  • the type of traffic
  • what it means when I say drivers being careless

The reason that your brain does this is because you have to simulate the idea in your head to comprehend it. Even if someone is talking to you over the phone you can see how you imagine in your head what the story is doing even as it is being told. Critical thinking is about not using your own meta data but investigating until you have all the meta-data required to replicate the idea in your brain rather than simply simulate an approximation of it. The critical thinker will ask

  • what kind of vehicle
  • where I am driving (highway, small country lane etc)
  • is the road busy or near empty?
  • By careless do I mean talking and texting while driving, not using proper signals, or something else.

Most of the human race likes to take short cuts in communication. You can think of hundreds of ways that you do so every day. The better thing is to not accept short cuts from others, especially those with a reason to confuse you or lie to you. Politicians and preachers come to mind. Even if they are not trying to confuse you on purpose and their intent is good, do not accept short cuts. Don’t fill in any of the details for yourself. Make them give you every detail of the ideas they are trying to convey. This is exactly what children are doing as they learn about the world. They will make inferences about what they are shown. The isolation that religion creates is bad. If you showed kids of 2 years old that people go to all kinds of churches it would be very helpful to those children. Most religious groups are guilty of abusing the children in their care simply because they isolate the learning mind of that child from the other possibilities.

I suspect that boredom or the ‘know it all’ syndrome in teens stems from not having enough to learn or the challenge to learn it. This is where I think our learning institutions could do much more and exactly why they should be better funded. Who knows how many geniuses fell prey to ‘boredom’ and never expressed the genius in them?

 

 

Moon Stories – Fountain Of Wisdom

Don’t ask me about the title. Moon stories these will be and you’ll know what kind they are by the label. You can read Heavy Construction too. I think I’ll make a page for them.

 

Everyone knows what drinking fountains look like, or should. This is a story that starts with one much like the one pictured here. As you can see it’s not all that special and has just enough ‘stuff’ to qualify as a drinking fountain that you might find in an elementary school. The fountain of the title looked much like this _and_ was to be found in a school. It might still be there if you were interested in looking.

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Still, it was an ordinary drinking fountain until one day at lunch when I happened to be standing in line to get my school lunch. To me it seemed like a long line but there were probably 100 kids or so in the line wrapped around the outside of the lunch room which doubled as theater. Nothing special should have happened that day at lunch but that drinking fountain changed my life forever. Now I’m not going to tell you that actually drinking from the fountain imbued into me some sort of wisdom. No. The wisdom, if I can call it that, was given to me for using the fountain the wrong way. A great many discoveries are made this way and some of them are good. I’m calling this one good.

So there I was standing in line, anticipation of 8 ounces of milk and something that was not a baloney sandwich when the guy in front of me went to get a drink of water from this fountain of wisdom. He probably grew up to be the class clown type, not because he drank funny, but because as he finished he thought it would be funny to splash me with some water. Even at 6 years old I was none too fond of this type of behavior. Anger leads to action and before I could voice my disapproval there were a few pushes. Not happy with the outcome I reached to the fountain and scraped my hand across the basin to splash him with considerably more water than he’d gotten on me. One would think that this would be victory but there was no time to celebrate because a teacher’s hands were milliseconds in reaching my wrists. I cannot tell you what words she used, only that she was not happy. Before I could contemplate the fact that this now all seemed to be my fault I was being told I was going to the principals office despite my protestation that I did not start the great lunchroom brawl.

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When you’re 6 years old the principal ranks pretty damn high on the list of authority figures. Having to go see him was definitely a situation that called for regret and fear.

So there I sat in the principal’s office, waiting to be punished in some unknowable way. I was probably waiting for him to finish his lunch but who knows. It seemed many minutes of anticipatory terror for my 6 year old brain. Finally I got called into his office. I sat down stoically. I can’t remember everything but he basically gave me the ‘good cop’ routine. Probably because I looked like I was ready for the bad one. No matter what I had to say he was convinced that I was the problem and that I needed to learn to resolve my issues in non-violent ways. His words and body language let me know that I’d not be harmed but I’d have to listen to him tell me I was wrong no matter what. I settled for that given the alternatives I had dreamed up in my head. He seemed like a nice guy by the end of it, though completely lost on the plot of things. I was just relieved that he was only going to talk to me. The following days found me nervous at school. The water fountain ape did not stop with his picking.

Then about a week later we had a new principal. It turns out that Maryland had a thing or 80 against cheap booze and porn. If you were caught importing such into the state without paying state taxes it was a criminal offence. Guess where ‘good cop’ principal was? Yep, jail for the aforementioned offences. He’d managed to break both rules in one go. Of course, at just about the same time as he was breaking the law he was talking down at me and telling me that I need to learn to be better than others, that I need to obey the rules and not cause trouble.

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I’m sure he was a fun guy … maybe

Where is the wisdom already?

That episode did change my life. I learned quite a few things all in one short charade. Authority is not given just to those that deserve it and will bear it well. Sometimes the crooks are in charge no matter how kind or law abiding they appear. Authority figures don’t really care what your problem is or what social justice issues you suffer. They are concerned about their own issues and those will always come before yours. At the drinking fountain I learned that it is not what you do but what people perceive that you do that is important. They will not take time to study the matter and come to a conclusion based on the evidence unless forced to upon penalty of contempt of court etc. I also learned that you can’t trust authority blindly because it is often enough wrong despite any good intentions. That boy taught me what all politicians know, what they buy their groceries with: If you can avoid being seen doing wrong the public will side with you. Justice, as precious as it is, is rarely meted out with accuracy. I also learned that it’s not always true but it’s worth betting that the best liar will always win.

I’m not a teacher or paediatric psychologist but I can guarantee you that children are learning life lessons from about the time that they can talk.

What did you learn in the first grade?

 

 

 

Moon Stories – Heavy Construction

Don’t ask me about the title. Moon stories these will be and you’ll know what kind they are by the label.

Every one of us has stories in our heads from long ago (whatever that means to each of us) that make us who we are. Each story is a little part of us and how we came to be who we are. This is one of those immortal stories that we keep like dreams in jar.

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What we see here are classic Matchbox imagination vehicles. Heavy duty work equipment. They’re not built for speed, they’re built for doing _stuff_ and despite my precociousness at the time, I had only a vague idea of what ‘doing stuff’ really meant. Look at these paragons of American nostalgia. Forget Ford Tough, nothing beats a Matchbox! These things go on forever. In case you are wondering these are the actual toys I played with when I was about 4. I might have been as young as 3 but my memory doesn’t give me that information. I remember these two vehicles with grand splendor. Yes, those are the right words. I learned a lot with these two particular little toys.

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I remember the house I lived in, that I was much shorter than a 50 gal barrel, and that I still ate in a high chair and could not talk much. It was all I could do to beg my parents to buy me a coocoo for coacoa puffs cookoo clock. It was quite a bit of money back then and I saved cereal box tops to help ‘pay’ for it.

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I can’t remember what major construction project I was working on with these two vehicles under the wrap around deck on a 1950’s duplex, but I know it was more important than lunch a couple of days. Had I known then what I know about project management I’d have certainly told the boss (mum) that the truck is unsuitable because it doesn’t have a dump bed and the tow truck simply has the wrong kind of equipment to get my truck out of the mess if it gets stuck and I need a front end loader to load the dump truck properly.

Even then I was independent and I had imagination (and not many Matchbox cars). So it was that my finger tips filled in where the front end loader should have been and I tipped the whole truck and pretended it was a dump bed so I could build the hills that I had seen along the highway. When the dump truck got stuck I used both hands to pretend the tow truck was pulling it out of the muck. Sure, that’s improvisation and it worked a treat at 3 years old. I only wish I could remember what awesome project we were working on at the time. Maybe besting the Hoover Damn? I don’t know.

There are things that I do know. I had no idea at the time that later in life being able to substitute one thing I have for a thing I needed but don’t have would become a skill that would make life bearable for me. I did not know then that play along to get along would be important. I did not understand that fake it till you make it would be a thing. I was just a kid in the dirt making do with what I had and being totally in control of my world. I did not know how important it would be in later life to be able to feel the illusion of control in my world.

I did not know that the mere illusion of control would make it possible for me to endure unnumbered embarrassments, unmeasurable peer pressure, and unbelievable pressure to conform to society. At three years old I was learning how to deal with the fucked up world we live in. I knew, even then, it’s about control or even just the illusion of control. When you’re in control things happen the way that you want them to happen, the outcomes are securely affixed to your desires. Control is the heart and soul of imagination.

Yes, I have memories from that early in my life and some earlier. I have a lot of these Moon Stories and what they taught me, how they made me the me that I am.

I have seen lots of people just pretending. I can see their dump trucks don’t actually dump and their tow trucks don’t really do the job yet they pretend that life is good and their thinking is sound as if their backyard dirt project is real with government funding. I’ve known since I was still in diapers that people pretend. It gets them through the day, to the next hurdle, sometimes beyond. They pretend that it’s all going to be okay, that wishing for a better tomorrow will make it happen, that praying to a god will change his divine plan in their favor.

What I did with these toys in later life was remember to know when my dump truck really isn’t a dump truck. In that way I’m pretty lucky.

How is your dump truck doing?

 

 

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