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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

The Bible Set Me Free

May 8, 2012 38 comments

The Bible Set Me Free

Blame it on my parents.  They always told me to “think for yourself”.  I doubt they ever considered what would happen if I really did that.

Now, I suspect what they meant was, “Think what we tell you but do it in your own words.”  Too late.  When I was 13, I began to question everything and soon the total absurdity of religion became apparent.

Because I have been “encouraged” (forced) to read the bible several times, it was easy for me to see the contradictions in the book, what christians professed to believe, and how they really lived.

When I refused to go with them to their church, they said they would “Make me go.”

I asked them, “How are you going to make me? How will forcing me to attend church change my mind?”  Already, their attitude was starting to harden me against everything else they would tell me.

Their next idea was to have their minister talk to me.  I told them it was a waste of everyone’s time.  They persisted and had him come to the house to “Talk some sense into me.”  (as if they ever works for anyone)  After about 15 minutes of him quoting the bible to me and me pointing out that he was either wrong in his quotes or showing him how it said something else in another place, he became very angry and told me I was going to hell.  I suspect it was because I knew the bible better than he did and was, at age 13, able to prove how ridiculous his arguments were.

I told him, “If there is a Hell I’ll see you there.  Save me a nice place, OK?”  He said I was an impertinent, disrespectful child.  By then, I was angry myself and for the first time, I told a christian that he was a hypocrite, a liar, and a fool.  My parents insisted that I apologize.  I refused and left the room to a lot of yelling and threats.

For the next four years, I heard about this at least once a week.  So the night I graduated high school, I left my parent’s home and didn’t see them again for well over a year.  By then, with the credits I had accumulated in high school and summer school,  I had completed a couple of years of college.  Fortunately, I was able to pay for this myself.  I was entering the army and wanted to try to make peace with them, but had to listen to the same old recriminations and arguments again.

The next time I saw them was two years later when I was getting married.  After several years of an on-again, off-again relationship they finally agreed to just not discuss it any more.  I’d like to say that worked, but  subtle hints slowly became outright condemnation.  Then I took a job transfer from Ohio to Arizona, so family meetings were rare enough to become occasions for something other than contention.

I do have to say that I appreciate the other things they did for me, like encouraging my education and equipping me with the work ethic and attitudes I needed to survive and thrive at that early age.  In those areas, they were excellent parents and I am grateful for those things.

What did I learn?  Even your family can turn against you if you refuse to share in their illusions.  There are times, if you are to become your own person, you must stand firm in what you know to be true.

Is There a God?

August 11, 2010 111 comments

Where Is God?

We can demonstrate that no god exists.  Certainly not in the Jewish/Christian/Islamic omnipotent father-figure image.  Notice the contradictions in observed reality with the image of the loving god that is aware of “every sparrow that falls” and “numbers the hairs of your head”.  Clearly, no such deity exists and there is no divine intervention in either a positive or negative sense.  If there were, at any moment the 27,000 children around the world  dying of malnutrition and starvation be permitted?  Would evil be permitted to exist?  Would people benefit from evil deeds and good deeds go unrewarded?

For that matter, it can be mathematically demonstrated that prayers are not answered, either.  Unless you consider a success rate of .01% to be “answered”.  That’s far below even the rate of random chance.  Even the behavior of religious groups when confronted with practical matters demonstrates that they do not believe in the “power of prayer” either.  If they did, they would simply pray to god to provide their churches with all that was needed instead of extorting money from their members.  If they don’t trust that, they must not have much faith in their “god” either.

Flying Pharoahs

August 4, 2010 5 comments

The Pharaohs Could Fly

Much of what people have regarded as magic and “god” over the centuries have really been things they just didn’t understand so they attributed mystical significance to normal events.

A great example of this is a piece I read by Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions) who wrote that the ancient Egyptians could fly.  Obviously, we know that they did not.  They left us so many records in the form of artwork and writings that we would know if they had.

But, they had bamboo, papyrus, linen, and the thermals and steady winds of the Nile valley.  They could have built gliders capable of sailing hundreds of miles.  Unfortunately, they were ignorant of the laws of aerodynamics even though they were as much in effect then as now.  But they didn’t know, so they didn’t go.

It’s possible that there are laws of physics that we don’t know about today that, if we did, we would be capable of feats as astounding to us (including flying without planes) as flying would have been to the Pharaohs, who would have assumed that was supernatural, but was only the application of physical laws effective for anyone.

Even today, we see the same thing when people, observing anything they do not understand, assume it has a supernatural source.  “God cured me of cancer”  “The lord was with us.  It’s a miracle only 12 people were killed.  It could have been worse.”  “I don’t understand how evolution could possibly work, so it must have been god.”

Have Faith

August 4, 2010 14 comments

Let’s All Have Faith

If something cannot be proven, there is likely to be a reason for it.   If something cannot be seen, it can still be proven.  Gravity cannot be seen by of our current technology.  But its effects can be seen and measured.  Just try dropping an iron weight on your toe.  Or do you think that was a spiritual effect by god to punish you for being stupid enough to drop it on your toe?

Gravity can be measured, its actions observed and even predicted.  I knew that weight was going to hurt your toe.  You probably did too, so you decided not to drop it on your foot.

“But you must have Faith!”  OK, I am willing to test that.  Are you?

I invite you to the roof of my building.  It’s not too high, between 25 and 30 meters (80 to 90 feet).  I hand you a large belt and tell you to put it on.  As you are buckling it, I explain that it is an anti-gravity belt I have built.  I add that it repels gravitational force, just as ordinary magnets repel each other.

Like magnets, the closer it is to the earth, the more powerfully it works.  So, when you first step off the roof, you’ll fall fairly fast.  But as you near the concrete parking lot below, you’ll slow down until you stop just a short distance above the ground.  Way more fun than bungee jumping, right?

Now go on, step off the roof.  What? You want to know how it works?  The entire secret was revealed to me by a space alien in a series of visions.  He also told me that drinking too much alcohol was bad for me.  I know that to be true, so this has to be true, too.  It’s too complicated for you to understand anyway. You need me to interpret its action for you and for you to have faith.

Yes, I’ve already tried it, now it’s your turn.  Off you go now.  Take a leap of faith.

Land of the Free?

August 3, 2010 5 comments

Land of the Free?

America is not the land of the free and never was.  This is not limited to the USA, of course, it’s true of most places at most times.  It is only free if you profess to believe the “right” things, practice the “right” religion, support the “right” causes, and say the things that “everyone knows” are correct.  Now, it must be “politically correct,” too.

Dissent has always been not only discouraged, but punished, socially, legally, and often physically.  How many “hippies” of the 60’s were disowned, ostracized, and often physically abused for their views and lifestyle?  Is it any different today?  Isn’t “gay bashing” still practiced?  How about right of choice?  Is that also punished?  Even to the point of murder?

Anyone that opposed the Iraq War 2 was accused of being unpatriotic, unchristian, and possibly treasonous.  The fact that not one weapon of mass destruction has been found in Iraq and that it is becoming very apparent that the government, starting with the President and Secretary of State misstated or even lied about the intelligence excuses for the war has not lifted the mantle of hate aimed at these few voices of reason.  Some “friends” have even told me that, if I can’t say what they want to hear and stop criticizing the government to stop communicating at all.  I may have lost some acquaintances, but I have kept my integrity.

It doesn’t stop with false patriotism, it continues into every area of life; especially when you intrude upon religion.  Madelyn Murray O’Hare may have won a few battles, but at the cost of eternal hatred and enmity from so-called “Christians.”  The hate and threat-filled mail she received reveals the true level of “Christian love and tolerance” that exists in the USA.

Anyone that dares to express dissatisfaction with blue laws and protests anyone attempting to enact their personal religious beliefs into law is reviled and attacked, often physically.  Think about the number of bombings of abortion clinics.  Are these acts of Christian charity?  Whether anyone likes it or not, the abortion issue is a religious one.  Has any other argument been offered against it?  If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one.  If you have a logical, provable, argument against it, state it clearly and reasonably.  Attempting to enforce your opinion with violence or making it a law with its implied threat of “legal” violence is morally wrong and contrary to the standards of a free country.

If America were truly free, anyone could express any opinion and live any way they chose without running the risk of social, financial, or physical danger.  This situation does not exist today and never will because there are two universal truths that forbid it.

The first is:  A person’s most precious possessions are his illusions.  People will sacrifice their homes, money, possessions, even their children as long as they can maintain their illusions of religion and what’s “right” and wrong”.  If you doubt this, think of parents watching their children go off to fight and die in a war because they refuse to surrender the illusion that “It’s a just war against a godless heathen.”  They cannot accept that it is to ensure the profits of oil companies and presidential pals.  They do this because very few are cognizant of a second truth.  Beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, do not alter facts.

One of the things I’ve learned is that most of our beliefs and attitudes are really an accident of birth.  If you had been born in another place, you might just as sincerely believe in Hinduism, Confucianism, Islam, or some other religion and be convinced that your country was always right and that America was the “Great Satan.”  You would be just as wrong.

America free?  Think about these.  No-warrant wiretaps, indefinite detention of citizens without charges, no-knock entries.  Search and seizure without warrants, rendition of prisoners, torture renamed as “intensive interrogation”, stop and frisk without probable cause, confiscation or destruction of cameras used to record illegal police actions, mounting cases of police brutality and even executions by police that are never investigated, much less punished, and finally, “managed news.”  Does this sound like a free country?

Do I expect to suffer for these opinions?  Most certainly I do.  There is no doubt there will be  hate mail and death threats (the religious reich is especially fond of those) but also financial, social, and personal loss.  But I still have my integrity.  That’s more than most.

 

Ethics

August 2, 2010 9 comments

Enlightened Self-Interest

A popular theist argument for religion is “Without religion (god) we would have no morality or ethics.”  So without religion can there be morality?  Morality based upon fear of punishment or seeking rewards isn’t really morality at all.  Perhaps what they are saying is that they would be evil without fear of hell.  Then they project that lack of moral courage upon everyone else.  I say to them, “Don’t judge others by yourself.  Your lack of ethical backbone is not universal.”

People can practice what I term enlightened self-interest.  An individual’s self-interest is best served by doing no harm to others except in defense of themselves or those in their care.  This thinking does not need threats of eternal punishment to follow, It only requires thinking about what will ultimately yield the best results for yourself.  Treating others fairly and generously is always better for yourself, personally, financially, and socially.

Those that co-operate and adapt have always been more successful.  As such, basic ethics has evolved to improve the survival of species.  Indiscriminate killing, sex with close relatives, cannibalism, are a few examples of things that are contrary to survival of the group.  The most cooperative and adaptable species have the best survival rate.  Even animals conform to these “moral issues”.  That religions have attempted to claim these things originated with them and would not exist without religion is not just hypocritical, it is ignoring obvious facts.

There are more complex issues that apply more directly to humans.  For example, robbing a bank may yield temporary wealth, but at the expense of either a prison term or a life of fear, running from the law.  Similarly, cheating others in business dealings may increase profits for a time.  Eventually, your reputation will be so poor that your business may fail.  This is a simple principle that, “It’s always cheaper to make a customer happy than it is to make him angry.”  This same idea can pay dividends in ordinary human relations.  For reasons I don’t understand, few businesses or people appreciate this idea.  Maybe it’s because they operate on deist principles?  Everything is forgiven if you repent before you die. Although that wouldn’t seem to help those you cheated, treated badly, or even murdered.

So should nothing be discouraged?  Should everything be permitted?  Capable, informed individuals could engage in any activity that interests them even if it puts them personally at risk.

An example would be an automobile race.  It is certainly dangerous to drive at racing speeds and it is equally dangerous to stand near the race course to observe or record this event.  Two people may choose to do these things if they understand and accept the risks involved.

One question that arises from this would be, what if one or both of these people have a spouse and children that depend upon them for financial and emotional support?  Should they still do this knowing that if they are injured or killed it will cause some degree of harm to these dependents?  If they choose to do so, does anyone else have the right to prevent them?

Those are ethical questions that can and should be debated, but each person must be free to choose his own answer.  No other person, religion, or government should have the right to make these choices for us.  If you are keeping in mind that humans are often in error and thus prepared for all possible consequences, no matter how remote the possibility, you can do what you think best.

Global Warming?

July 30, 2010 2 comments

Global Warming/Climate Change

People seem to want to deny global warming/climate change, claiming there are no “facts”.  What facts do they want?  That the glaciers and ice caps are not melting? That the sea levels are not rising? But those are facts. Perhaps there is some explanation other than global warming? What would that be, then?

The fact that some people like Al Gore are making money from it doesn’t change the facts. It adds the fact that Gore, along with other people, are opportunists. Of course he won’t debate it because he is not a scientist and not equipped to do so. He is simply an opportunistic politician (a redundancy, I know) that serves as a front man because of his visibility and it does make money for him. Evidence of his hypocrisy is in his personal lifestyle of a 20,000 sq ft house, executive jet travel, and other environmental sins.

Nonetheless, AG’s hypocrisy and opportunism doesn’t change the facts of global warming. His inability to debate it doesn’t alter the fact the there are plenty of real scientists qualified to do so and that are debating it every day. So are the proponents of alternative energy sources scammers? Some are, no doubt. Follow the money. Others are only misguided and painfully unaware of basic physics.

The total causes of global warming are not totally clear. Even ardent supporters of it concede that. That the exponentially increasing use of energy by humans is at least partially to blame is also clear. What I believe is that a total change from fossil fuels is not the answer. That ignores the law of conservation of energy. All energy use, from whatever source, eventually becomes heat. If every car, bus, boat, train, and even plane in the world were powered by electricity created only from wind, hydro, and solar sources, it would not reduce the heat output by any significant amount. It would only shift the cause from one thing to another. Nor would using hydrogen be any different.

All of these sources create heat when making electricity. A generator or electric motor becomes hot when turning. A battery becomes hot when charging or discharging. Manufacturing any of these creates more heat as well as chemical pollution. The big thing is heat pollution. So what’s the answer to that? Let’s look at the problem. More and more people using more and more cars, refrigerators, TVs, computers, etc.

As the global standard of living rises, as it is in the most populated areas like China and India, the energy consumption also rises.

The solution? Fewer people. Reduce the seven billion people on the planet to three or four billion and most of the problem disappears. How do we do that? By genuinely having a separation of church and state, something that certainly has never existed in the USA or most of the world. Religions that promote endless reproduction are not only self-serving at the expense of humanity, they are contributing to the destruction of the environment as we know it.

As I have said many times, most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. Add to those crimes, the destruction of the environment.