Posts Tagged ‘ Violence ’

Dalai Lama Denounces Chapel Hill Murders

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In a statement today the Dalai Lama announced to Chinese state radio that

I am aghast at these murders and want the families to know Buddhists deplore this kind of action by a fellow non-believer. This is not the way of Buddhism.

He announced condolences as only the Dalai Lama can and also said

“Although violence and the use of force may appear powerful and decisive, their benefits are short-lived. Violence can never bring a lasting and long term resolution to any problem, because it is unpredictable and for every problem it seems to solve, others are created. On the other hand, truth remains constant and will ultimately prevail.”

In this, Mr Craig Stephen Hicks shares some traits with the religious.

 

‘Nuff said

 

 

 

At least this is what I imagined
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Atheist Murderer … So What?

Yes, I just said that. Does it really matter whether this tragedy, and it is a tragedy, is a hate crime or just some guy with a gun and several loose screws? Not to their families. It doesn’t matter to me. I truly feel bad for the families. Their pain will not go away any time soon. If I had a way to help them I will. That does not change the story. It does not change what happened. Humans are a violent species; always have been and it seems they always will be. Here are the faces of some of the latest violence. Yes, only some of it. Someone should be asking the question: Why are crazy people allowed to carry guns? How can we detect crazy people? You might as well ask how we can prevent lightning from striking churches and burning them down. No solution will ever be complete and tragedies like this will always happen as long as humans exist as we exist to day.

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Do you remember not long ago when there was a number of people claiming that wars in Islamic countries created terrorists? Well, what does it take to push a nutter over the edge? Perhaps a parking dispute and the opportunity to use a gun? Hmmm that doesn’t seem like much, certainly not enough. Well, how about Muslims beheading people and burning them alive and distributing the film world wide? Would that do it? Remember those who said Charlie Hebdo were ‘begging’ for it? Do those people still feel that way? Did they not think it would happen the other way around? Did no one consider this possibility? They shouldn’t have been surprised.

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Maybe this story will give you reason that a nutter with a gun might use it, given a chance?

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Atheism is not a world view. It offers no code of conduct nor even suggests that one should behave this way or that. It is nothing more than the disbelief in gods and the supernatural. Hatred of others is something atheists do all on their own, for those that hate others. Trust me, atheists can hate just like anyone else. Being an atheist does not mean that you are morally good or even fun to be around. It just means that you don’t believe in gods. That lack of belief is the only thing that atheists have in common as a group. It’s even difficult to call them a group. It’s like calling everyone that does not wear pink a group – non-pink wearers. If someone who does not wear pink killed someone in black and green would it be because they don’t wear pink? Even if they are new never-wear-pink-ists?

Whatever the story turns out to be in truth, this man killed three innocents and that takes a special mind set. Sure, we all wish that this would never happen and a lot of us wish that atheists would never do such a thing but being an atheist doesn’t make you sane or morally good. The only thing that we can guess is that he didn’t kill them in the name of his god and the news is full of reasons for a nutjob to want to ‘take revenge’ or lash out at the people that cause them fear and anger. I’m not saying they deserved to be killed, because they didn’t as far as I know. I have no reason to think they deserved anything but kindness and friendship.

How many times can you chant and protest and proclaim ‘death to those that insult Islam’ before the crazies come out of the woodwork? Maybe now we know?

 

 

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.

Violence and Religion

Let me start this by quoting The Unassuming Atheist (emphasis added by me)

Were the Fort Hood and Charlie Hebdo murder sprees or Boko Haram massacres caused by Islam? Are the Central African murder sprees caused by Christianity? A yes answer is far too simple. But violence, tribalism, and mutually exclusive truth claims are built into in our sacred texts and traditions. As a consequence, religion around the world continues to disinhibit lethal violence at a horrendous rate. For us to vilify Muslims or Christians or any group of believers collectively is to engage in the familiar act of cowardice we call scapegoating. It means, ever and always, that we end up sacrificing innocents to appease our own fear, anger and thirst for vengeance. But for us to ignore the complicated role of religion in violence is a different kind of cowardice, one that has been indulged by peace-lovers among the faithful for far too long.

It doesn’t really matter how you slice it, to be fair it is necessary to state things in the manner above. Religion doesn’t cause violence but it damn sure disinhibits it. Wait, let’s rethink that. Religions and their holy texts actually call for violence and war. That religion and violence are connected so tightly is no accident. What the Unassuming Atheist is trying to say is that only batshit crazy people actually go through with the violence. All the sane religiously deluded people are too chicken shit to do what their holy books tell them to do. Wait, maybe they’re not True Christians or True Muslims or True Jews… who knew?

 

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For a group of people to tell me that they follow a book full of bat shit crazy violence and marching orders to kill those who do not believe but that their religion is not a religion of violence, that true-believers do not adhere to such things and that violent believers are just nut-jobs that have nothing to do with them is to piss down my back and try to tell me it’s raining.

Yeah, and the neo Nazi party is not anything to do with the original Nazi party, am I right? No, they have nothing in common. The Neo Nazis are peace loving political movement, not a violent genocidal group of whackjobs. You believe me when I say that, right?

Okay, so if you tell me your religion is the religion of peace and I can go to Google and find 100s of thousands of pictures of religious violence, violence created by believers, and violence created in the name of the deity I’m going to spit in your face. Yes, that’s offensive but it is also a proper response to telling me that monotheism is peaceful.

The Unassuming Atheist wants us to believe that religion simply does not inhibit violence. To a degree I’d be willing to agree with that. Humanity is a violent species but we did get it honestly. There was a large part of human history where live and let live was okay. There was enough land to keep us separate. The world is a much smaller place now. This is no longer possible and religious violence is no longer tolerable. Religion is no longer tolerable. Yes, it’s okay to say that. If religion was out busy trying to jail and punish the violent nut-jobs that are following their holy texts we might be able to forgive moderate believers. That is not what is happening and I can’t forgive them. Oh, sure, many of them have no clue what to do.

Well, here are a couple of clues:

  • Leave your violent religion behind. Just get out.
  • Condemn the violence with the strongest possible measures. Turn vigilante.
  • Start telling the public sphere who is right and who is wrong where violence is concerned. Be vocal. Make sure the world knows where you stand.
  • Then put your money where your mouth is – support those that hunt the violent ones down and kill them. Start spending your money on feeding the hungry, clothing the poor and so on.

When the pious can do this the world will gain. Humanity will gain.

Renounce the violence by punishing the violent people who claim your religion. Stand up, deliver, speak out. The longer that moderates remain quiet the more tyrannical the violent ones become. Weed your own gardens believers. Then, just maybe, we can believe that your religion is one of peace.

#FuckThePope – Fight Fire With Fire

I am sincerely offended by the tyranny of theistic belief. Theists can only go so far before they should expect a response.

 

 

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Pot, meet kettle.
Fight fire with fire, get the marshmallows out, let’s watch the world burn, Pornography for pyromaniacs of thought.

 

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They burn all that encroaches on their monolith, striking jawbone with stone axe to resolve the merest insult.

Apes using fire and brimstone to create a heaven on Earth in the belief that forging fires make steel, not realizing that wild fires of unconscionable belief simply raze the forests of reasonable existence. They are certain of their belief and profoundly unaware of their unthinking push to have us again living in trees.

 

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Stupid is as stupid does. Education is the answer until you have to implement it at the end of a gun. Just pull the trigger and let the world burn!

 

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The question then, is how do you teach a bigot to love? Especially when he is the representative of god on Earth?

 

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.

 

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.

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