Moody834

Moody834

25p

32 comments posted · 2 followers · following 4

13 years ago @ verywide.net - The Hazards of Confron... · 0 replies · +1 points

[Note: I am re-posting this comment as it appears to have been borked somehow. Although the comment was preserved (in WP), it was not being displayed here for some reason, even though it initially did. I am beginning to feel less than pleased with IntenseDebate's system, as I believe at least one other comment has been lost altogether and the only apparent culprit is the new comment system I'm using. If you have not seen this comment until now, I apologize for the probable confusion w/r/t some of the second comment.]

Hey, Brother! Thanks for taking the time to comment at such length! :-)

I have to say, I am unsure what to do with the first three paragraphs here. I don't know any intelligent atheist who thinks it would be a good thing if belief disappeared overnight. And really, it's a rather bizarre hypothetical musing. It's like some inverted rapture! Lol... So, I am going to pass on further comment there.

Richard Dawkins has in fact called himself a "Cultural Christian", and I think it's an important distinction. Christianity will, for ages to come I'd think, be a part of Western Culture (and be an influence on the thoughts of people the world over). Those of us born in this time and place are molded in an environment heavily influenced by Christianity, while those born in this time and some other place are so influenced by Islam or Hinduism or whatever. This is inescapable, and is not necessarily a bad thing. One doesn't want to throw out the bathwater with the baby Jesus, as it were.

As to our susceptibility to belief in the supernatural and our penchant for weaving it into our culture, I would suggest that false positives and confirmation bias are known traits that have to be dealt with as best as we can. We have a lot to learn about how these relate to the development of the human psyche and its ability to function in the world. As I've read elsewhere (no reference, I'm sorry to say), it's better for us to mistake a shadow for a deadly tiger than mistake the tiger for a harmless shadow. On the other hand, the person who jumps at every shadow has a problem, no?

Nor would I suggest that we do away with rituals or our quest for so-called higher states of mind. The neocortex is still a mystery-laden puzzle to us, and a great deal of research shall have to be done on it before we've any absolutely clear consensus on its capabilities, limitations and role. The temporal lobes, when stimulated, produce in many a sense of "not being alone", of there being "someone there". Some people feel that this presence is "God", others that it's some sentient je ne sais quoi. What's interesting is how, in religious trance or deep meditation, the temporal lobes are activated while the parietal lobes "…appear to nearly shut down. The parietal lobes give us our sense of time and place. Without them, we may lose our sense of self" [Source]. Clearly the brain operates this way for a reason, but sussing out that reason is going to take a lot of work. As you once said to me, evolution doesn't work toward perfection, it works toward what's good enough.

[To be continued.]

13 years ago @ verywide.net - This Mothers Day · 0 replies · +1 points

Thank you so much. ^_^ You're the pastor, innit? Elizabeth tweeted something you said recently.

13 years ago @ verywide.net - The Hazards of Confron... · 0 replies · +1 points

I am not happy with the continued comparison to the Bush administration, which I'm sure was your intent. Personally, I find it a bit misguided. What "atheists tend to write"? I mainly read Daylight Atheism, Unreasonable Faith, and Pharyngula, three blogs I find to be very useful for understanding the atheist perspective. I find myself to be especially in tune with the first of these. Ebon Muse has addressed a number of the issues you allude to here in the second part of your comment to me. He has done so more eloquently than I have done, I think. I am not here attempting to appeal to authority, I simply must give recognition to a better writer than I am. I have not read Dawkins' or Hitchens' books on the atheist perspective. I have read most of Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale (I was interrupted while reading it by life and have not yet been up to picking up where I left off). However, I've certainly read a good number of articles by Dawkins, and I have never heard him employ the language of war w/r/t atheism's future. Typically, I read certain fundamentalists using such language w/r/t infidels and unbelievers.

As for atheist charities… I have to say that you have picked a fine cherry for your argument. Might I note that atheists do not tend to discriminate in their charities? Whatever gets the job done seems to be what works for atheists. You might want to check out the following, if you'd be so inclined: Atheist/Secular Charities (eighteen general charities are listed right at the top, followed by many issue-specific charities). Also, Ebon has his own response. I would suggest that you might find these two links point to something a great deal more substantial than 100 books. Finally, I would like to note that back when my own money problems really were starting to bind me to the living-paycheck-to-paycheck model of American life, I managed to donate to the relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina. I did not, however, have any identifier on my check noting that I am an atheist or secular humanist.

It seems to me that you, too, have done something. You helped those in need recently, even. Was it incognito? Would you not be willing to organize on behalf of those who are not religiously affiliated? Are you sure you were the only person there who doesn't believe in "God"? Don't you see that you have the answer to your questions: "Where is the atheists' sense of ethics and morals, and community, lived as clearly? Where is their belief that living a life committed to doing what is best for others is what gives meaning to their lives? And if you lack that, why would you expect that anyone would want to join you?" Where is your sense of ethics and morals, dear brother? Clearly you have them.

It has in fact been my personal experience that in a predominantly religious environment, being open about one's disbelief is a fast-track to being ostracized or proselytized at. And while there are certainly those religious groups that do not attempt to convert those whom they're assisting, there are plenty of stories (from history to the modern day) of missionary zeal astonishing in its coldness toward the human rights of others. It is difficult to swim against the tide or the dominant flow of the river. It is difficult to always be told to "sit down, you're rocking the boat". It is difficult to regularly be told that the best thing you can do is be quiet, keep your unpopular ideas to yourself, and don't upset people by pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. It is difficult to try to find a new way in a world obsessed with the old and its preservation at all costs. Nevertheless, the atheists I know are making the effort for the good of all people. If they are a bit testy, it's from being assailed by those who are predisposed to thinking that no good can come from atheism.

By the way, while I "let them figure it out for themselves" do I also let them (or their brethren) slip creationism/ID into the school curriculum? Do I let them discriminate against the LGBT community? Do I let them dictate public policy regarding sex education and a woman's right to choose when to get pregnant or terminate her pregnancy? Do I turn a blind eye when they decide to refuse someone treatment at a clinic or hospital?

13 years ago @ verywide.net - The Hazards of Confron... · 0 replies · +1 points

Hey, Brother! Thanks for taking the time to comment at such length! :-)

I have to say, I am unsure what to do with the first three paragraphs here. I don't know any intelligent atheist who thinks it would be a good thing if belief disappeared overnight. And really, it's a rather bizarre hypothetical musing. It's like some inverted rapture! Lol... So, I am going to pass on further comment there.

Richard Dawkins has in fact called himself a "Cultural Christian", and I think it's an important distinction. Christianity will, for ages to come I'd think, be a part of Western Culture (and be an influence on the thoughts of people the world over). Those of us born in this time and place are molded in an environment heavily influenced by Christianity, while those born in this time and some other place are so influenced by Islam or Hinduism or whatever. This is inescapable, and is not necessarily a bad thing. One doesn't want to throw out the bathwater with the baby Jesus, as it were.

As to our susceptibility to belief in the supernatural and our penchant for weaving it into our culture, I would suggest that false positives and confirmation bias are known traits that have to be dealt with as best as we can. We have a lot to learn about how these relate to the development of the human psyche and its ability to function in the world. As I've read elsewhere (no reference, I'm sorry to say), it's better for us to mistake a shadow for a deadly tiger than mistake the tiger for a harmless shadow. On the other hand, the person who jumps at every shadow has a problem, no?

Nor would I suggest that we do away with rituals or our quest for so-called higher states of mind. The neocortex is still a mystery-laden puzzle to us, and a great deal of research shall have to be done on it before we've any absolutely clear consensus on its capabilities, limitations and role. The temporal lobes, when stimulated, produce in many a sense of "not being alone", of there being "someone there". Some people feel that this presence is "God", others that it's some sentient je ne sais quoi. What's interesting is how, in religious trance or deep meditation, the temporal lobes are activated while the parietal lobes "…appear to nearly shut down. The parietal lobes give us our sense of time and place. Without them, we may lose our sense of self" [Source]. Clearly the brain operates this way for a reason, but sussing out that reason is going to take a lot of work. As you once said to me, evolution doesn't work toward perfection, it works toward what's good enough.

[To be continued.]

13 years ago @ verywide.net - This Mothers Day · 0 replies · +1 points

Thank you for your very kind words. :-) [Eu sou muito satisfeito por sua bondade. Obrigado.]

13 years ago @ verywide.net - Day Off And So Forth · 1 reply · +1 points

Thanks so much, my friend. (Nice of you to drop by the ol' blog!) ^_^

13 years ago @ EnviroKnow - The Politics of a Pote... · 1 reply · +2 points

Typo: "...being held up by GOP Senators because she is - GASP - pro-life." Should be "pro-choice". If she was "pro-life" the GOP would be doing everything in their power to get her confirmed.

W/r/t the story overall: Good grief. Our government will never recover from partisan politics at this rate. The fact that the GOP is willing to drag all this out at this moment is not at all surprising, however sad it is.

13 years ago @ verywide.net - The Hazards of Confron... · 0 replies · +1 points

Ah... Not a "church"... nor a "temple"; both words are firmly rooted in religious belief. My suggestion: an atheist Colloquium, taken in the Latin sense of "conversing", and in the academic sense of it being a place where "The audience is expected to ask questions and to evaluate the work presented" (source: Apple Dictionary).

13 years ago @ verywide.net - The Hazards of Confron... · 2 replies · +2 points

Rituals are an amazing thing. We create them for nearly everything, even when they are barest boned (say, when we make a point to go to Denny's restaurant on specific days, but it could be a Denny's in a different city or state). We ritualize birthdays and other anniversaries. We ritualize how we set up our homes when we move in. Etc. What makes religious rituals 'special' is their supposed grounding in the supernatural or the metaphysical; "God" makes religious rituals special or extraordinary.

Having attended a Universalist Unitarian church off and on--it being a place where you cannot guess exactly what anybody's particular belief will be--I can say that a sense of community, a sense of shared purpose, with rituals designed to bring people together for that community and purpose, is just as effective with or without any given belief. I think that people are naturally inclined to want to work together, to find and define purpose together. "God" seems really superfluous in the end, and I'd go so far as to say that it makes sense that "God" was merely added onto something that humans were already doing well before written history began.

Our "future 'better way'" is in fact the oldest, natural way. If you teach the children well about the foundations of healthy cultures, about how societies best work, about how people have tirelessly worked to overcome conflicts and apparently intractable problems, then that is what children will grow up looking for in the world. Give a child a sense of wonder at the world; give that child too a desire to see people get along and improve their lives; give that child a full and secular education; give that child opportunities to practice the principles of kindness, compassion, caring and loving; give that child the tools and support s/he will need to overcome the adversity and trouble that naturally come along in a person's life; you will have in the end, most likely, a well-adjusted human being whose faith is in humanity (and secular humanism). Rituals will naturally evolve from this. Don't reverse,--redirect.

As to the history to which I alluded vaguely, I do not have any longer post on that. I was extrapolating from what I've read and what I've learned over 42 years. A little research via Google should help flesh out the salient points for you.

Thanks again for all your comments. :-)

13 years ago @ verywide.net - The Hazards of Confron... · 4 replies · +2 points

I think that it is very difficult to gauge what we are capable of so long as we are so hampered by a culturally ingrained "belief". Children are not born believing in "God". It is possible that--in a totally primitive, insular and isolated setting--some form of belief in the supernatural would spontaneously develop. What is most certain, however, is that it would be unlike the belief of any other religion. You would not expect to see a belief in Krishna, Jesus, Mohamed,--or Attis or Ba'al for that matter. Any specific belief a child has is the product of indoctrination, either by the parents or by the larger social group, or in reaction to these*.

We know that a well-rounded, quality education today can undermine superstitions and irrational beliefs. (This is, of course, why so many fundagelicals want to homeschool their kids.) But there is more to it than that. There is a shift toward polarization in this country (and in other places around the world). If you go back half a century or more you find that beliefs were more general in their manifestation, more homogeneous in societal terms. Education was fairly robust then, as well. But people were not anywhere near so polarized. There was a national upsurge in religious affiliation brought about by the experiences of two World Wars. The groundwork was laid then for both great and terrible things, the fruit of a paradigm shift that dropped from the tree in the mid to late 1960s.

I am not doing justice to the history here, and am running too far afield. My main point is that, in the end, the Information Age, the explosion of general access to vast amounts of knowledge via the Web, the breakthroughs in genetics, neurology, geology, ecology and other fields related to the theory of evolution and the modern synthesis, have all gone toward undermining the fundagelicals and mysticism generally. We have entered an age that in a de facto manner pits science against religion and superstition. Atheism is becoming a viable, sensible and solid alternative to the decaying position maintained by religion(s).

It seems to me that the possibly (but not necessarily) "positive influence" of the delusion in question is threatened not simply by atheism but by science itself (and so by education in light of science) because the delusion cannot well stand against them. The only recourse of the religious is either in radicalization or dilution, either of which is incapable of providing sustenance or nutrition to the possible "positive influence". That there is probably a better way to deal with the problem of religion I have little doubt. However, I am unsure about the timely arrival of that better way. Chemo must be employed until some better curative measure is practicable.

* It is to be remembered that some beliefs may arise not as a reaction against some other set of beliefs but instead as a reaction to those who maintain them. For instance, a young person may ostensibly become Wiccan in response to her or his parents Christianity, but psychological analysis may well discover than in fact the new belief has primarily arisen due to the young person's need to differentiate her or himself from the parents. This is not to say that there is never a genuine conversion, but only to suggest that children do on occasion rebel, consciously or unconsciously, in such a way. I would further suggest that where a belief has arisen as a reaction against the holders of some other belief, the conversion will be less likely to stick; e.g., a child may well abandon Wicca and return to Christianity once her/his relationship with her/his parents has stabilized in a healthy manner.