Posts Tagged ‘ Inclusivity ’

Color Outside The Lines

If there is something that Laci missed in her video I’m not sure what it is.

Color is not something, in this case, that should be kept in neatly arranged lines. There are a lot of non-black people that don’t understand what Laci is talking about and I’m not sure I have the credentials to explain it to anyone but there are a few things I can relate from my own experience.

I don’t like to see my friends have to put up with an attitude from a white person who makes them feel second class. I stand up and call out white people who do that so that they’ll know next time.

I don’t like to see men in the grocery store where I shop looking at me with trepidation, we should be able to meet in friendly ways on the street but black people have learned to be extra cautious, to the point that it ruins opportunities for us all. I try to change that one smile and ‘hello’ at a time. It’s been so noticeable at times that I want to wear a shirt that says “I’m not a  cop”.

We all judge people, it’s a human thing. I try to remove any racial qualities to my judgements. This is specific to me because it changes how I think about other people. It has not been an easy task.

Everybody you know or see is fighting their own battles. Try to be a nice person and not give other people yet another battle to worry about.


We all have a debt to society. It’s up to each of us to do our part to make our society the kind of society that we would like to live in and to make people feel welcome there. Yes, a debt. Especially in western societies.

What Is On The Other Side?

Women are not more important than men. Women and men are not important, no, not in the long run. Humanity. Humanity is important to all men and women yet they blind themselves to this simple fact, this simple idea, with all the hatred their minds can muster in the dark, dank places they do their thinking. The explorers we read about search new destinations not for the fame or glory but for humanity. Fame and glory are fleeting. Identity is fleeting.
300,000 years ago there was an ape who thought “I wonder what is on the other side of that mountain”. Her cousin had a similar thought. His nephew a similar one. Eventually one of those curious apes found themselves in northern Europe. More spectacularly, though that sounds like a nice story these apes full of wonderment were not explorers. No, they simply were looking for more food to feed their babies.
Those amazing minds among us that strive to keep alive drag the rest of us kicking and screaming into the future. No plan, no guide book, just the unmitigated gall to survive. Those that sit back and stake a claim to some branch of a tree are simply too stupid to go look on the other side of the mountain. It’s never important what is on the other side of the mountain. What’s important is going to see what it is.

When the human mind stifles itself to maintain some paltry position of power it causes all of humanity to falter briefly. We’ve been stumbling toward the future of humanity for quite some time now. Do not listen to those that don’t want to go see what is on the other side of the mountain. Leave them under that tree to rot. Think not another thought for them. If they hold you back and beg you not to go to the other side of the mountain, pick up a stick and beat them with it. Their whimpering sounds will fade as you climb up the mountain, sun warming your back and the wind in your hair. No matter what you find, on the other side of the mountain is the future and it does not need that whimpering ape with the tiny mind and tiny thoughts.

Is Anti-Theism A Valid Position?

mephistopheles hesitant has a pretty decent post here in which they attempt to address, as a response, a post that was derogatory of anti-theists. I don’t want to go over the all of that territory as mephistopheles hesitant makes a fair go at it. I simply want to comment on some few sentences they used at the end. Their concluding paragraphs are below, complete, emphasis is mine.

The anti-theists have made a courageous engagement with questions about the place of religion in society. This is an important discussion that we need to have, not just because of Islamist terrorism and gay marriage, but because religious modes of thinking and being are part of our society and they compete in the marketplace of ideas. Anti-theists like to talk about religion as if it is a set of shackles from which we need to free ourselves. It is an extreme point of view, but we should acknowledge that some anti-theists sincerely want to help religious people to know that human beings are not inherently guilty, that we should not fear open questioning in the pursuit of truth, that you do not owe a cosmic debt—which you cannot physically or spiritually repay—to your Creator for a transgression you did not commit. Anti-theists are “spreading the good news” that you do not bear the mark of Cain or the stain of Adam. With this comes liberation and increased personal responsibility. If you commit an action so horrible that no person will forgive you, there is no hope of ultimate redemption. There is no second chance.

While they are not anti-anti-theist I take issue with some thoughts they have:

There are many shortcomings in the anti-theist arguments. They lack nuance. Mostly, they lack an understanding of the anthropology and sociology of religion. They’re not political science or psychology or philosophy experts, either. They’re informed citizens trying to open up dialogue about questions that matter. Is there purpose in the universe? Is there an afterlife? Is there an all-loving Creator? Do such beliefs, if false, serve any good purpose in the world? All theists have to do is actually defend their beliefs against criticism. That’s not asking much.

Now, don’t take offense at the anology but this is a lot like one of the Rabbi’s sitting down to dinner with Moses and trying to convince him that these Egyptian fellows really aren’t that bad and they deserve a more nuanced and civil discussion about the matter, and how being terse, impassioned, and sometimes angry really isn’t doing the Jews any favors. All the Jews have to do is defend their belief in freedom against tyranny. Maybe a couple of good debates or something?

I’m not anti-theist. It’s a mistake to believe ridding ourselves of religion is the only option, or the best option. It’s not practical, and people are right to sound the alarm bells of bigotry and intolerance. Anti-theists have so far been careful about walking the fine line of anti-theist and anti-Christian or anti-Muslim. GA42’s points are important to consider, because we know what happens when extreme views fall into the hands of the mob. We have to correct anti-theists when they characterize all religious people as “illogical” or “irrational” or “stupid.” We have to be wary of dogmatism and ideological homogeneity in our beliefs, theistic and atheistic.

Now, when you think this paragraph through it will make sense. Read it again, several times if you have to. What is being asked for here? Who is legislating thought crimes into law? Who is legislating oppression into law? Who is legislating theological thought into law? Don’t be bigoted toward the tyrants he asks. Interesting way of putting things. In the position of theology there is no central ground save perhaps for agnostics. A parley for compatibility is nothing less than asking the enemy to put their weapons down. We know how that works out in the effluence of human affairs. Yes, I’m sort of saying that any capitulation at all is complete capitulation. Despite the violence that religion reigns down on humanity this is not a war of attrition it is a war of ideas – once side fighting for complete dominance and the other fighting for a secular world with freedom of thought for all.

We can all improve our attitude, our tone of voice on the issue of religion. We’re perfectly capable of talking about religion without resorting to hostilities. We can have strong feelings about a subject and attack peoples’ ideas without attacking the person. Theists have long had a privileged voice in society, and my hope is that nonreligious persons will no longer feel afraid to express their beliefs openly. As obnoxious as the anti-theists are, they are affording us all the ability to be more public about our opinions on religion. We should thank them for that.

Anti-theists well can talk about religion without resorting to violence. It’s a position we’ve been forced to endure for many centuries because anything else meant death, often a horrible death. Some modern countries still have blasphemy laws that carry very harsh penalties and death. Anyone that forgets that has forgotten the lessons of war, of history, of humanity. We are still a very long way from living in a society where expressing atheist ideas is safe. To believe otherwise is to fail to understand this society at all. When it indeed is safe to talk about our thoughts on religion perhaps then it will be time to consider that more nuanced approach. Until that time theists are not deserving of a nuanced civil discourse. They will get it, but they are not deserving of it.

Something beautiful from the MNPD (Nashville) Chief of Police

I just became a fan of Steve Anderson. I’d like to see more of this… everywhere.

Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

This is the talk all our police need to walk

From The Tennessean: Nashville police chief shares message, responds to questions

At least take a moment to read the email to Chief Anderson from a member of the self-proclaimed “majority” of people in Nashville (read: not, apparently) and Chief Anderson’s astounding reply.

View original post 1,576 more words

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…




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?

Talking About Atheism… On The Edge

Atheism is not my only interest in life but I find that it is one of those topics that is not like others. When people draw venn diagrams they put circles around the objects being discussed. I think that my interest in atheism is not so much about what is in the atheism circle but about the circle around it itself and where that circle overlaps on and moves inside other circles. The part on the cutting edge. the blurry bits where it might be difficult to contrast the difference or even detect it… the very fine edges of the overlap.

It is on that fine blurry edge where reality happens; where conversation happens; where understanding begins. Of course, life does not give us those lines to work with very often unless you’re talking to folk like a Ken Ham or a William Lane Craig who are very crisp in defining where their own edges are.

I noticed this distinction demonstrated today … heh, so I don’t have to explain it in depth. Let’s let Ryan Bell do the talking for a bit: (bold font added by me)

This morning I woke up and was suddenly aware of how my foray into the world of skepticism/agnosticism/atheism is precisely walking into a conversation already well underway. Those of you who were here before me have a language, definitions, metaphors and expressions that are useful in helping you explain how and what you think. There is a lot to learn just about the basic semantics and dynamics of the conversation, let alone the subject matter being discussed. I’m not sure why I didn’t think about this because the same is true—and probably more true—in the world of theology. Talk about code language! You almost need to be a member of the guild just to have the conversation. The uninitiated use a particular word and those of us who have been in thinking about these things for couple of decades just look at each other like, “Gimme a break!”

That is to say that most of us stick strictly inside the circle in our part of the venn diagram, we don’t venture out to the edges where there is a defining line and things are not so safe. I think that you can tell if someone is trying to stand out there on that fine but fuzzy line and perhaps dip a toe in the water on the other side when they acknowledge the difficulty of standing there. Bell says this:

Thank you for humoring me where I’m getting into something I’m not entirely prepared for, and thank you for taking my questions and inquiries seriously (or at least trying to). Judging from the response, it’s more than just me out there who is somewhere along the continuum of faith and certainty, theism and atheism, knowing and not knowing and needs to be a part of this conversation. Thanks for making room for us.

He even recognizes that there are many others sticking a toe in the water on the other side. I believe this to be quite important for all of us to recognize. That is not to say that I find compatibility between atheism and theism or science and creationism, but that there is a continuum between one end and the other and we arbitrarily draw the line around what we subjectively feel is the stuff that should be inside the circle we stand in.

There have been attempts by several groups to define humanity by gender or privilege but all they are really doing is defining some subset of human thought and then getting grumpy that not everyone else is inside their subjective circle.

What? Where are you going with this?

Our prejudices stop the conversation or keep it away from the topics that we should be talking about in the first place.

  • Theism is not true – should be why do you think there is a god?
  • Atheism is a sin – should be why don’t you think you are sinning?

Rather than make declarations we should be questioning the motives behind the beliefs of others. It is when we do this that we can begin to understand how they think about life and the world around us. A discussion about Noah’s ark should include all the evidence – you know, teach the controversy because until we all actually think about what we believe and why we believe it, we won’t be crossing any lines soon. When enough people trample on the lines, all the barriers will come down and one or more of those circles will shrink allowing for the correct circle to get bigger. This is, after all, how science works. What I’m talking about here is peer review on a daily and opportunistic basis.

No, I’m not trying to tell you to ‘be nice’ but I am hopeful that we will all work harder to bring the conversation to what we believe and why rather than what school of thought is wrong and which is right. The one with evidence and support will show itself to be right – which ever that turns out to be.

No, I don’t think this contradicts what I’ve written in my blog. I claim a lot of labels yet don’t find them sufficient so I’ve written a few posts whose title starts with ‘My Word View’ and will continue to do so… what I understand to be true and why I understand it that way. I often have trouble finding believers that want to do the same thing. I’m hopeful that Bell’s experiment will encourage this method of discourse in many of us – what do you believe and why? Finding a common language is just the first step but if we manage to carry through with it we should all end up better educated and education is the answer to many problems in human life.



Meaning In Life, 3 Jan 2014

There are a lot of people that want to talk about the meaning of life.

Yeah, I know that comes as no surprise. Google shows About 743,000,000 results (0.25 seconds) results for such a search so there is plenty to read. Is it really so complex that we need that many explanations? Are the explanations so difficult to understand that we need millions of further explanations? Wikipedia has a round up of the question of meaning of life and its many forms.

All that is some good reading, to be certain. I’ll give you a bit of meaning that you can carry around with you if you like:

  • I took my dog for a walk. We had a great time. No politics, no taxes… just me and him and some nature. He has a good outlook on life but apparently not too keen on lobster pieces. I’m with him on that one.
  • My cat likes my dog. They don’t seem to be race conscious or worried too much about fashion.
  • My dog has a hobby that I like to call ‘a ball’ but it keeps him happy. I should get a hobby.
  • My dog is kind, gentle, moral, compassionate, accepting… he’s better than a lot of people I know.

I am not sure how much more meaning you need in your life but I’ll bet that you’d find more of it if you took time to share your pets hobby more often. For some reason they’re more worried about balls than the meaning of life and I’m willing to bet that they have a secret.

My Friend

Peace, out


2013 in review

The 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…

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