Posts Tagged ‘ Rights ’

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.

Good And Evil In The Crib

I have to tell you that I like the cliche headline grabbing way this title hangs on the top there 😉

It’s not about evil babies no matter how much I would like to write that article. I just read a post at selfawarepatters.com  dealing with the innateness of morality in babies. Yes, human babies. The cute helpless mini-alien looking things that people get at hospitals.

Hurt mommy and I'll kill you!

Hurt mommy and I’ll kill you!

I know that everyone has the cutest and smartest baby in the(ir) world. I’m not here to argue that. The post in question discusses whether morality is innate in humans and provides some good references to follow. I’m not going to critique the post but I wanted to mention it because it is the inspiration for this one.

One of the things that I believe people forget or overlook when discussing a topic like this is the mechanisms on which morality functions. I don’t mean philosophical things, rather I mean the neurons and brains and stuff in our heads where all the decisions on a moral scale are made. I think that our brains have a lot to do with morality as we perceive it.

Morality In Mammals

We can spend a few minutes on the Internet and find examples of many mammals showing moral actions, actions of empathy, and generally displaying what were previously thought to be human only actions. All you have to do for this is search for ‘animal saves’ and you’ll get plenty to look at. Clearly they are not limited to humans so it is fair to conclude that what makes us moral beings is probably more to do with our ancestors than some built-in moral mechanism or programming. Not one religion that I’m aware of teaches that animals are moral beings capable of moral action. PETA is not a religion despite what you might think.

Logically we should look at what humans and other mammals have in common. An ancestor! Genetic commonalities. Wait for it …. a brain.

Why would having a brain make you a moral species or a species that is wont to be moral? Another clue is that we find many of the animal stories mentioned above are about social animals or animals that generally are not loners. Ah, so a clue is that social mammals seem to generally exhibit moralistic behavior. Only one species reads holy texts or even seems to give a damn about morality, humans. We can rule out reading and holy texts and even discussing the idea of morality as being the cause.

Coming full circle, that would mean that we should be able to eliminate adulthood in humans as a requirement for moral thinking and action. It appears that all social mammals seem to have the ability for moral action and that includes humans. Nurture is out, so it must be that human babies have the ability for moral action as well whether they can demonstrate it or not. Hopefully this establishes a firm reason for thinking that humans are born with the ability to act in morally good ways.  I don’t want to include the entire argument so for the sakes of this discussion let’s take as granted that morality is based on the law of reciprocity… the golden rule in its many forms. In adults this can be easily argued as a survival strategy and it even supports social group survival strategies. We can see this in other mammal species as well. Why would the law of reciprocity seem to be prevalent across the mammalian species?

Balance Is Survival

In a general sense, the survival point on a scale between harm and no-harm is in the balance point. There will be times of giving and receiving harm and no-harm, but survival goes to those that maintain the balance more often. This can be reduced to a calculation, the kind you find on actuary tables. It’s not a heart warming calculation and it involves leaving the dead and wounded behind as often as not. In this grotesque calculation of survival we can see that over time, any no-harm that you can achieve will help in the fight against harm in order to maintain balance. It’s a calculation that your brain can do.

Social animals protect their in-group and self. This is demonstrably true. Evolution made sure of this because those that did not simply didn’t survive at a rate high enough for us to count them today.

In our complicated world of hairless apes, our brains have far more information than what will kill you and what is good to eat. The balance between harm and no-harm is far more complex now. We have to think and consider what is harm to self and harm to in-group and what is not. Morality is born of this equation for it is only the most complex set of equations to find balance, to find survival. Morality is innate _because_ we are social animals and it serves as a basis for survival for pre-modern humans, modern humans, and in fact all social mammals.

I don’t think that you’ll be able to find a moral act by either humans or any social mammal that can not be understood in this way.

Survival is innate. Morality is a survival strategy in its most basic expression.

When surviving becomes more complex, the expression of that survival strategy becomes more complex and can even be stretched to the point of ludicrous tensions.

Is it okay to murder Hitler?

Watch a child, I bet they would if they could.

Hurt mommy and I’ll kill you!

That is morality in it’s most raw form.

You Don’t Know … So Here You Go, You’re Welcome

There is not much that I can add to this except that Sam and I don’t agree on all things but on this video mashup, we’re in synch all the way.

Enjoy… then go buy presents for people that already have more than they need…

Be Part Of The Solution….

not part of the problem.

Here in the USA people are finding out that they cannot avoid the argument. If it has not come to their lives yet, it is on its way. Whether it is about the health care that you can afford or who you can marry or whether you are getting paid or not. You can’t avoid the discussion / argument.

What is the solution?

Well, there are hundreds of opinions on that and even more dogma. Anything that is not part of the problem is part of the solution. There is no agnosticism here. No middle ground. No demilitarized zone.

You are either supportive of equality for all, and quality of life for all or you are not. If you do not support these quality steps you are opposing them.

It doesn’t matter who you blame things on, if  you are not supportive of equality then you are opposing it and in opposing it you are the oppressors.

 

If your god teaches you to hate, oppress, and deprive others of the rights you enjoy, you ARE the oppressors.

Affordable Health Care

Currently the US government is ‘shut down’ because the Republicans want to defund and repeal a law they already passed. They are holding the country and world hostage in the thought that throwing a hissy fit will make everyone else give them what they want. This is how revolutions start… when the oppressors think they can do as they wish. If you support the republican party in their whiny ass hissey fit then you are part of the problem. You are hurting good people across the country for absolutely no good reason at all. Your careless support of this childish behavior makes you THE problem, not just part of it. Grow up, wake up. The world is not here to give you what you desire. Your selfishness is hurting people. Your pride is hurting people. Your religion is hurting people. There is no excuse for it. You are the problem and you are an idiot.

 

http://iamobamacare.tumblr.com/

 

If you are not part of the solution you ARE the problem. Wake the fuck up people.

 

 

Violence … Becomes … Us?

I’m quoting the entire post because it is short. It is from vindicius blog. We have always been violent. As Pinker says, violence is at an all time low. Look at the news around you and remember that this is the least violent this planet and species has ever been. One might argue that this is the most civilized we’ve ever been but I think there is room to argue on that point.

How much of the violence in the news is religiously oriented? Did gods make people do that? Does it matter, they use god as an excuse. Perhaps it was much more brutal, but when apes killed other apes over territory it was at least honest. Killing with divine sanction is just murder with an alibi that you’re following orders. Whose is not certain but none will argue much if you say god told  you to do it, that it’s god’s law you were enforcing. It’s a shame that gods won’t enforce their own laws so we can live in peace.

From 2001 A Space Oddessy - unknown credit

 

The Freedom to Kill

The illusion of gun violence is becoming quite annoying. We seem to be under the impression that it is only guns that kill our children, the neighbors down the street or the people in another country. We seem to think that a gun is by its nature a very bad thing. We seem to think these things because we are not thinking rationally, but overly emotional.

To illustrate my point: If someone were to place a gun on a table or surface of some sort, the gun would not randomly begin pointing at people and shooting at will. A baseball bat will not bludgeon to death anyone all by itself, nor will a knife begin slashing people by way of freewill. Bombs explode, but their parts will not arrange themselves in the order they are eventually found.

No, these are not weapons, but tools. And tools do not become weapons until they are placed in the hands of those who intend to use them as such. We have become (or worse, still are) a people who assess blame on the object of the crime and not on the person responsible. A trend does not illustrate truth, for the only trend in murder is the human being responsible for the act. It has been this way throughout our existence, though we seem to forget ourselves as the prime tool in need of repair.

I can call for mental-health reform all I want, though in the world of today we seem to distance our mental illnesses far from the reality of our troubled nature. Deep down we all have the freedom to kill, and that is certainly something to be afraid of. But so long as we ignore the darker side of our natures, we will forever drown ourselves in the depths of denial. And that is not a place where humanity can survive.

Is a gun really different than the bone in this picture? Does the tool change the problem? Should the gods have removed all the bones from the face of the earth? Would it have helped?

 

Did we become violent … or did violence become us?

 

What say you, my hairless ape cousins?

 

MAL

A Helping Hand And Using The Right Tools

I haven’t heard much about atheism plus for a while and wanted to toss out something about equality.

Tools aren’t just for men… women can use them too… see there, equality 😉

 

 

LOL, if you actually watch it, they’re running drills backwards and other mistakes. Bonus points if you can spot 3 or more….

 

Yes, sex sells… what was the name of the tool company? Oh, absolutely, there were tools in this ad.

 

Yes, this was for fun. If you get upset by it, you should go see a doctor – your sense of humor is broken.

Sequestration

se·ques·tra·tion

/ˌsēkwiˈstrāSHən/
Noun
  1. The action of taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met.
  2. The action of taking forcible possession of something; confiscation.

Okay, maybe this doesn’t quite count as sequestration but I do want my subscribers to know that for the last couple of weeks and for the foreseeable future I will be drowning in work. If I am not commenting on your blogs or reading, I want you to know that it is not because I don’t want to. I am forcing myself into a 14 hour work day to get through a large project. It makes me sad that this imbalance needs to be but I see no way around it right now.

 

 

I hope that you all continue to learn and live well. I’ll be here now and then.

Thanks

 

MAL

Purge Again

Perhaps  you’ve heard of the new movie called ‘The Purge’. Spoiler alert, I’m going to talk about it.

NOTE: Contains minor additions from the original post.

It kind of looks like a scary movie. If that’s what you’re looking for, don’t look here. As a scary movie it is mediocre at best. It’s not an action movie either but it does combine elements of both. Check the trailer before we move on.

Some of  you might remember that there was a Star Trek episode that was a lot like this. It was called ‘Return of the Arcons‘ and as it turns out this episode of Star Trek was a huge inspiration for this movie.

Rather than have the computer involved with communism and war undertones to the plot, The Purge movie uses humans as the origination and executors of the purge method. Rather than explore technology or politics this new movies explores morality.

Yep, I said that. It is a morality tale with a bit of action and scary bits and a couple of parts that had people in the audience speaking out loud.

In the movie is it already widely accepted that once per year for 12 hours there are no laws. This seems to be largely used to rid the country of those who are not productive contributing citizens – mostly poor and homeless folk. It relies on the ‘idea’ that most people seem destined to be psychotic murderers if there is no law against them being so. You’ll remember this kind of theme from theists that think atheists who do not believe in god have no morality so they should be okay  with murder and eating babies and such.

In the movie, we follow a four member family. The father is a successful salesman for lock down security systems to protect ‘good’ people during the Purge night. The law says that during the Purge there is no law, all crime is legal. The family is conflicted over whether this is right. Apparently there is a lot of murder on this annual Purge. One by one each family member makes up their own mind whether or not the Purge is morally good or not. This leads to the introduction of killers…. dun dun duuunnnnn

What I’m writing about is that the movie very realistically portrays morally good action (doing the right thing) as a natural and human thing to do. This further implies that those who don’t are psychotic or vengeful and animal like. What the audience is left thinking is that if these people are like that on the annual Purge, why would you like them the other 364 days of the year?

Let me translate that for  you: If your god and his laws are the only thing that stop you from killing and raping then you are  most likely a psycho or lunatic and can you just get the hell away from me please, don’t ever come back here again.

Above, I mentioned that each of the family members concludes that the Purge is not morally good and that they did so individually, mostly as a result of direct exposure to raw aggression and violence. This leaves the thinking viewer understanding that good morality comes from within our brains, not from an external source.

To me, this gives the movie a deeper meaning. From this we can imagine how morality came to be common among humans. We can also see that not only did violence, rage, and murder spawn morally good behavior and thinking, it also was the impetus for those same morally good people to act in depraved ways. They seemed to almost enjoy the violence required to punish those murdering psychos. This, in effect, justifies the core values in the justification for the Purge in the first place. I find it hard to take a moral stand on either side of the Purge justification without deep reflection on many things.

We need to consider things like the death penalty, cruelty to non-humans, cruelty to those we dehumanize, violence, the cost of peace and safety and many other things. Are we justified in killing murderers? Is violence an answer to anything except violence?

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

UPDATE: Check out this post about psychotic killers on tv by Azevedo.

Who Said You Are Supposed To Be Happy?

I’m kind of tired of hearing this mantra. Theists use this too much and it permeates society. There is no law that you are supposed to be happy. Sure, lots of people WANT to be happy but this implies that they have all that they want. We naked hairless apes are never happy with what we have, we always want something more.

It is logical that if we actually did have all that we want we would be content.

 

BINGO! Happiness is contentment but there is this niggly little problem. You can be content with what you have…. did that sink in?

 

It IS in the palm of your hands

 

Yes, if you can be content with what you have you can be happy. You are not supposed to be happy, but if you can be content you can achieve this. When most people talk about happiness it is in the framework of achieving something or acquiring something. None of that makes you content for very long. I think it is much better to work on being content with what you have…. I find that happiness follows this in VERY quick succession.

 

What say you?

The Sound Of Religion Dying…

I recently thought of bring the When Religion Dies page down. There is so much news about how religion is failing and flailing that I need not point it out but then I thought maybe this will be a link that someone finds… so there.

I’ve added a link to freethinker.co.uk  because they post so many articles about how religionists have got it completely wrong. The last dozen or so might make you sick to  your stomach. They put me off my lunch. They made me want to reach out and touch someone… really hard with a blunt instrument.

Go and give them some love

 

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