Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I respond

OpusHallelujahThe latest thing going around the atheistosphere is a list of questions on where atheists get their beliefs. This list helps define what atheism is to the individual atheist.

Funnily enough, and despite there being no dogma, there is a great deal of unanimity in the responses. In fact, far more unanimity than there seems to be within identical churches or from one xian to another. Dare I say it? My guess would be that our lack of dogma allows for simplicity...

So, here goes: My Answers in Atheism -
  • Why do you not believe in God? From a rational standpoint, it doesn't make sense to believe in the impossible; and we have found no irrefutable evidence of one - only fanciful stories about him.
  • Where do your morals come from? Simply from knowing that to be good, kind and ethical makes life easier for self and others.
  • What is the meaning of life? Life has no purpose. But propagation of the species does. What we do with the time we are alive is more important to others, since we have no afterlife to look forward to.
  • Is atheism a religion? No. No. And absolutely not!
  • If you don’t pray, what do you do during troubling times? Living the Serenity Prayer makes the most sense: Can it be fixed? Then fix it. If it can't be fixed? Accept it with maturity.
  • Should atheists be trying to convince others to stop believing in God? Yes. Encouraging people, actively or passively, to believe in a fantasy hinders their maturity.
  • Weren’t some of the worst atrocities in the 20th century committed by atheists? No. They committed the atrocities for political reasons: to gain power and remove threats to it. The "leaders" were only incidentally atheists; their actions weren't to make more atheists. Coincidentally, religion has commited attrocities for religio-political reasons: to consolidate power, to maintain power and to remove threats to it - and to make more believers through terror.
  • How could billions of people be wrong when it comes to belief in God? Because they were infected with the virus by their parents, starting in infancy. Religion is regional, tribal, and generational.
  • Why does the universe exist? The more elegant question is: why does the universe allow man to exist?
  • How did life originate? We don't know yet. But it's being investigated both vigorously and rigorously.
  • Is all religion harmful? Yes. It holds a false promise of an afterlife. It has an authoritarian power over the people who follow it. It uses their money to glorify individuals (Pope! Robertson! Dobson!) and does little for poverty, disease and quality secular education. It keeps adults in a child-like state.
  • What’s so bad about religious moderates? Because they stand as a bulwark protecting extremism by protecting and enabling the extremists. Both christianity and islam lean toward terroristic words and actions.
  • Is there anything redeeming about religion? I can't think of anything.
  • What if you’re wrong about God (and He does exist)? I'll take my chances, thanks. But I'm not worried.
  • Shouldn’t all religious beliefs be respected? Not really. Why should it?
  • Are atheists smarter than theists? Not necessarily smarter; but the fact is, the more education you have, the less you believe in god and the less you need faith. Atheism is not for the weak.
  • How do you deal with the historical Jesus if you don’t believe in his divinity? In my opinion, there was no biblical Jesus; the bible passes off second-, third- and fourth-hand narrative as "eyewitness testimony". Trust me, in a court of law, Jesus would have no "corpus" to be "habeas-ed"! It's all circumstantial evidence. And borrowed from earlier myths...
  • Would the world be better off without any religion? Yes. Everyone would be rated on their mature judgment and critical-thinking skills. And the money would be put to much better use.
  • What happens when we die? The human body is a "wet-cell battery". When the electrical power dies, the body dies and consciousness winks out like a television screen that's been turned off. This concept is too scary for children and childlike adults.
So, that's one atheist's perspective. Feel free to take the questions and answer them yourselves.

Monday, July 16, 2007

George puts a lip-lock on Harriet - eeyew!

cartoons_071407_d-1Harriet Miers, who has been shown to have a "crush" on the president, obeyed George's command to ignore a Congressional subpoena. The committee has voted to issue a "contempt of Congress" citation.

It now goes to a full vote.

Do we still have too many republicans in Congress? Dambetcha!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Congress must recuse itself!

constitution_smallThere is clearly a conflict of interest in the struggle to clean corruption out of Congress. The voters flipped the majority/minority status in 2006 and, incidentally, "flipped a bird" at the GOP. Clearly, they voted AGAINST the republicans (maybe more than they voted FOR the democrats). Unfortunately, some of the Dems have behaved as Bush did in 2004, when he erroneously said he had been "given a mandate to govern". No, Dems, you were given not a "mandate", but a golden opportunity. And I'm asking you now: Why you are wasting it?

Dear Federal Officeholder:

Part of the reason why you are wasting it is because many of the votes on critical issues involved, directly or indirectly, corporations that contributed to your campaign (or from whom you want contributions, in the future). It's difficult to bite the hand that feeds you, isn't it? Or at least the hand that fills your campaign coffers. How do you vote "for" a bill that will go "against" an entity that has given you thousands and thousands of dollars? If you think that we believe, for one second, that the money came to you because they REALLY like you, or that your centrist or populist stand agrees with their own, think again, Mr&Ms Democrat! We know too well that they want something from you, something that they can't buy in the general marketplace: access to power. Not ordinary power but power to change laws, exemptions from rules/regulations, access to government contracts, phony public perception, even forgiveness. And if we didn't know about this before, the GOP has taught us this lesson, nearly every day, for more than ten years. The earmarks, the under-the-table deals, the "scratch my back...", Abramoff/DeLay/Ney/Cunningham felons (three in prison; one to go) and the Hunter/Feeney investigations that are heating up - well, consider this our "learning curve".

So, how can Congress clean up the House and Senate? We've proposed term limits - you didn't like that. You passed McCain/Feingold - since that was just "altered" by the neocon SCOTUS, ask the Senate how it happened; the history books will be all over that for the next century. You've made little bleats about controlling the lobbyists - but none of your little twitches will "muck out the stables" one damned bit! Asking the members of Congress to police themselves is like asking Larry Flynt to become a censor. (Sincere apologies for using your name, Mr. Flynt. Your grasp of freedom of speech issues exceeds that of 5/9ths of the SCOTUS!)

My point is this: running for re-election every two (or four or six) years, you have a vested interest in getting money wherever and however you can, subject to Federal Election regulations. (By the way, the FEC only provides transparency; the corrupting influence of money is still rampant. And don't think we haven't noticed that nifty little "money-laundering" trick you guys perform! It's illegal to use your PAC money on your campaigns. So, in order to "clean" it, you give money from your PAC to another politician's campaign war chest who is happy to "scratch your back" in return. That is shameful! Did you learn that from Hot-TubTom?) It seems your life revolves around your next election - but NOT doing the People's Bidding. When your money comes from BigBizness, but you campaign to be elected by "the mythical LittlePeople", you are hoist upon your own petard. You are like a faithless mistress...or, even, like a "mole", secretly planted to implement nefarious schemes...

My remedy is simple: Recuse yourselves on this issue. You can't be trusted to do it. Let us vote on Election/Campaign/Lobbying reform. Let We the People decide how, and how thoroughly, Congress should be cleaned.

We know how hard this struggle will be; it's always difficult to deny your sweethearts' their heart's desires. Let us do it for you. Let us finance your campaigns, with our own tax dollars. We'll tell the media that they can't gouge you (us!) and reap obscene profits every other year (something they've grown so dependent on, it's become an "election cycle entitlement program"!), many of whom already get their licenses to broadcast on our dime, anyway.

But you will have to accept something that will cause you real pain: we'll level the playing field, so that challengers have a better chance against the "tyranny of the incumbency" (read: bloated war chest). It'll be your voting record, your ideas and ideals against someone else's, duking it out on the campaign trail and in the voting booth.

Whaddya say? Will you do it for the good of the country? Can you stop thinking about yourself and your party, and remember the oath you took to our Constitution? They're not "merely words", you know. It's not "just a god-damned piece of paper", to quote President Godsend. It is, by far, the strongest piece of paper ever written by Man and for Man - not just man and corporation.

Put it to a vote of the people. Let us show you how to make a better and stronger America.

Wow! My first tag!

I must be the most unpopular blogger around - I've been reading "tag posts" for about two years and this is the first time for me, making me a virgin no more. Tag-cherry is busted! But Stardust, of Stardust Musings and Thoughts for the Freethinker, having received her second tag, finally thought of me. Read this full post for my thoughts, and some guidance courtesy of another blogger...

First, as instructed, the rules:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.

2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.

4. At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay, here goes:

1. I am so fucking depressed about America's future. Some days, I am practically paralyzed with grief and fear. This makes me almost bi-polar while reading the bad reports and stumbling across nuggets of good news. I've turned into a "voodoo priestess", reading portents, omens and America's Future in chickenshit-journalism's entrails.

2. I lie about my weight. Just little lies. I really weigh (by my scale) 193 pounds (without clothes, and after emptying my bladder first thing after waking up). I do this every day, the same way everyday, hoping that I haven't gained back more of the weight I've lost in the last year. FYI: my scale is actually four pounds less that the beam-scale at the clinic. Fuck! 197 pounds...although, like weight-obsessed people everywhere, I tell myself a) I'm wearing clothes and shoes now, and b) I have eaten and drank since my morning weigh-in.

3. I am worried about my "baby sister". Seriously worried. She flirts on-line with UK men who think she's from the UK. She is now obsessed with the idea of going to the UK for sex. I tell her how dangerous this may be, but she dismisses my concerns. (FYI: she's 47 and was recently "downsized"; with plans to take the summer off, she's on-line the whole time her husband is at work.) This doesn't help my feelings that the whole world is screwed up badly.

4. I'm supposed to be looking for a job. But I'm suffering from acute "interview anxiety", a form of stage-fright. At bottom: being 61 sucks!

5. I spend too much time on-line myself. I think I'm afraid of missing a "portent". This started on Election-Night 2006; I didn't go to bed until 8AM, when I posted Pelosi's picture, as incoming House Speaker, on Martian.Anthropologist and then succumbed to my exhaustion. Why did I do this? I'm like the "control-freak that keeps the plane in the air". My job that night, in 2006, was to avert what happened in 2000 and, again, in 2004: I went to bed with "Dem victory in the bag" but when I got up the next morning, GOP thieves had stolen the bag. You don't need to thank me - I was happy to do it!

6. It's becoming more of an issue with me that I never finished college. And please don't tell me that it's never too late. It just is.

7. More body issues: losing weight may have helped some conditions, but it's left me with a body that can never even wear shorts, much less a bathing suit. It'll take a lot of money for the plastic surgery needed to remove the loose skin. Clothed - looking better. Naked - looking much worse. Reuben's had a lovely idea. (*sigh*)

8. I do love to drive. Still. Since I got my first license 45 years ago, I've wanted to hit the road. I was lucky to find truck driving; for the first time in my life, I had found some way to make money doing something I am totally mad for!

9. Bonus#1: I wish I had the discipline to write a novel (I have enough ideas for ten or more) and/or a screenplay. I'm good with the ideas; bad with the follow-through. I'm good with expressing ideas; bad with sitting down to do it. And easily distracted...

10. Bonus#2: I hate housecleaning! Hate it! Cubed! Some time in my teens, I rejected the idea of "homemaker". I was rejecting my mother, too. I didn't want to be like her in any way/shape/form. Nuh-uh! I made it - but I'm no happier than she was...

You'll notice that there are ten, when only eight was commanded. I'm with the Sacred Slut at A Whore in the Temple of Reason - I hate chain letters, too. She stopped hers after she posted her allotment - and so will I.

I'm thinking of adding this to my banner: "Tagging is prohibited!"

Monday, June 25, 2007

I love Glenn Greenwald!

flagHeartRichard Cohen thinks that I.Lewis "Scooter" Libby was unfairly treated and blames the "vast left-wing conspiracy"!

Greenwald, in Salon, lays out the whole "left-wing" list of players. It's too delicious!
The Libby prosecution clearly was the dirty work of the leftist anti-war movement in this country, just as Cohen describes. After all, the reason Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed to investigate this matter was because a left-wing government agency (known as the "Central Intelligence Agency") filed a criminal referral with the Justice Department, as the MoveOn-sympathizer CIA officials were apparently unhappy about the public unmasking of one of their covert agents.

In response, Bush's left-wing anti-war Attorney General, John Ashcroft, judged the matter serious enough to recuse himself, leading Bush's left-wing anti-war Deputy Attorney General, James Comey, to conclude that a Special Prosecutor was needed. In turn, Comey appointed Fitzgerald, the left-wing anti-war Republican Prosecutor and Bush appointee, who secured a conviction of Libby, in response to which left-wing anti-war Bush appointee Judge Reggie Walton imposed Libby's sentence.

Sorry, Cohen, that left-wing bird won't fly...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"One nation, under...a spell"

Meet Pat Condell. He's an Englishman, who loves America. Or, rather, Pat loves the America the Founding Fathers invented. As he says, "before it was hijacked by xian zealots"...

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Parallax model: the genesis of the DI/IDiots

Flat Earth_An Infamous IdeaOMG! A book about "hoodwinking" the public? Biblical "literalism" has been done before? Say it isn't so!

At this point, Garwood's narrative becomes a study of how knowledge is produced and disseminated in a complex modern society. The flat Earth idea is proposed and promulgated in Victorian England by a colourful cast of con artists and eccentrics, the leader of whom is a quack doctor and snake oil salesman who calls himself "Parallax." He is a smooth debater and a clever self-promoter who leaves audiences dazzled; the real scientists who take him on have reason on their side, but no sense of how to communicate to a popular audience. Parallax plays the anti-elitist, inviting his audience to use their common sense and focus on the "facts" they all know, while leaving the speculative "theories" of establishment science in the dust. The round Earth, he declares, is merely a "theory" for which no actual proof has ever been found, and is a central part of a sinister conspiracy to undermine piety and true faith by a troop of atheistic scientists and their liberal, pseudo-Christian allies in the established mainline churches. And he's getting famous and making quite a lot of money with this stunt.

Is this all sounding familiar?


From a book review, on The Vanity Press website, of Flat Earth: the History of an Infamous Idea, by Christine Garwood. She states, "Every educated person in the Middle Ages knew that the Earth was a sphere..."

Until the charlatans and con-men cribbed from the bibble - and so began "biblical literalism"!

It is not a coincidence that, simultaneously, Lamarckians and Darwinians were "shaking the foundation of religion" with critical examinations of "creation in just six days"...

Had we known about this before, we could be rolling our eyes and saying, "Here we go again!"

(Originally posted here.)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Mr. Deity!

If this is the first time you've heard of Mr.Deity, you might consider watching episodes One through Nine first. They are all available on the Mr.Deity webpage, also linked again below the YouTube. Although this is a stand-alone video, you can gain some backstory on the characters that might enrich this experience...

Mr.Deity, episode 10: Mr.Deity and the Seed

Yes, it is about "that Seed" -- Sacred Sperm! My favorite subject! NOT! I love to snark about it a lot, though.

Here is the Mr.Deity webpage, where you can see the first nine episodes, read the FAQs and listen to an interview with Mr.Deity on Humanist News Network.

BTW, here is something interesting from the FAQs:

Brian, what is your stand on Religion?

I am a formerly religious person (non-bitter), and as such, have great sympathies for the beliefs and feelings of religious people. I love the fact that they are concerned with the big issues like Good and Evil, Existence, Creation, etc... I don't always agree with the answers they provide to these questions, but I deeply respect their concern. Our goal here is not to mock religion, but to use it as a foundation for the humor. I'm thrilled that so many religious people have written to tell me that they love the episodes. In future episodes, I intend to turn the tables a bit and poke fun at what I call the "angry atheists" (of whom I am not fond). We'll see if they take it so well.

We "angry atheists" are likely to cringe. But our "moderate/liberal atheists" can jump to our defense...

Actually, you can contact him on his webpage, and nicely express your disappointment in his flawed understanding of atheists' anger. I'm going to!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Charting the cultural abyss: the chasm between Left and Right

crossing-chasm(For larger image; from Otaku, Cedric's weblog)

The Ideological Animal

...We think our political stance is the product of reason, but we're easily manipulated and surprisingly malleable. Our essential political self is more a stew of childhood temperament, education, and fear of death. Call it the 9/11 effect.


Most people are surprised to learn that there are real, stable differences in personality between conservatives and liberals—not just different views or values, but underlying differences in temperament. [Jost, Carney, and Gosling] have demonstrated that conservatives and liberals boast markedly different home and office decor. Liberals are messier than conservatives, their rooms have more clutter and more color, and they tend to have more travel documents, maps of other countries, and flags from around the world. Conservatives are neater, and their rooms are cleaner, better organized, more brightly lit, and more conventional. Liberals have more books, and their books cover a greater variety of topics. And that's just a start. Multiple studies find that liberals are more optimistic. Conservatives are more likely to be religious...

[It's not necessary to read the first four paragraphs; they are more color than texture...]

If this it true, and it seems plausible to me, coupled with "opium of the people" and the "addiction model", there is a low probability they will budge on the faith part and only slightly higher odds on the religion part.

I'm counting on time and attrition. More and more teens are leaving religion -- so many, in fact, that it's "shivering the timbers" of evangelical religion! Now is not the time to let up on the pressure!


(First posted at God is for Suckers!)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's time for an intervention

This is a follow-up to Karl Marx's "...It is the opium of the people..."

syringe_americaWhen Religion is an Addiction

I remember hearing popular psychological speaker and writer John Bradshaw say that the “high” one gets from being righteous was similar to the high of cocaine. As both a former monk and addict, he knew the feelings personally.

As the religious right pushes its anti-gay, anti-women’s reproductive rights, anti-science, pro-profit agenda nationally and in state capitals across the nation and wins, that high is a sweet fix for the addicted. It gives them a comforting feeling of relief that they’re really right, okay, worthwhile, and acceptable.

...Like all fixes, though, it doesn’t last. So, the addict is driven to seek another and another – another issue, another evil, another paranoiac threat to defeat. It can’t ever end. Like the need for heavier doses, the causes have to become bigger and more evil in the addict’s mind to provide the fix.

This mind-altering fix of righteousness covers their paranoid shame-based feelings about the internal and external dangers stalking them. The victim-role language of their dealers, right-wing religious leaders, feeds it. Like alcoholism and drug addiction, the fix numbs the religious addict against any feelings about how their addiction affects others...

If you’re an enabler or the addict yourself, the above must sound over the top. You’d prefer to deny or soften the reality of the addiction...

Addicts reinforce each other. Fundamentalist religious organizations and media are their supportive co-users. So the person who deals with someone’s addiction cannot do it alone. They must have support from others outside the addiction...

You can’t argue with an addict...

You can’t buy into the addict’s view of reality...

Never say, even to reject it or with “so-called” before it: “partial-birth abortion,” “gay rights,” “intelligent design,” “gay marriage,” etc...

Don’t let the addict get you off topic...

Never argue about whether sexual orientation is a choice...

Never argue about sex...

It’s okay to affirm that you don’t care or these aren’t the issues. You don’t need to justify your beliefs to a drunk or druggie...

Get your message on target and repeat it...

Don’t nag addicts...

Don’t accept that the addiction needs equal time...

Model what it is to be a healthy human being without the addiction. Addicts must see people living outside the addiction, happy, confident, proud, and free from the effects of the disease. In spite of the fact that we’re a nation that supports both substance and process addictions so people don’t threaten the institutions and values that pursue profits over humanity, live as if that has no ultimate control over you.

Don’t believe that you, your friends, children, relationships, hopes, and dreams, are any less valuable or legitimate because they aren’t sanctioned by a government, politicians, or religious leaders that are in a coping, rather than healing, mode of life.

Dealing with addictions takes an emotional toll on everyone. Yet, recognizing religious addiction as an addiction demystifies its dynamics and maintains our sanity.

This is an excellent primer for talking to the religious-addicted. Please link and read the complete article (which is part of a soon-to-be released book).

If you've ever been through addiction recovery, you'll recognize most of the "empowering ways" to speak to the addict. If you have been lucky enough to escape the curse of addiction (chemical and otherwise), you can still appreciate how important it is to set up and maintain the conversation, and keep YOUR focus on THEIR problem. If you even once sound sympathetic and/or defensive, you've lost your power. End the encounter immediately. That allows you to come back later, having shown your control of the issue by walking away from it on your terms. It's not complicated but it requires self-control.

Reminder: "Model what it is to be a healthy human being without the addiction. Addicts must see people living outside the addiction, happy, confident, proud, and free from the effects of the disease."

(Dr. Minor is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. Through his Fairness Project, he is an advocate for, and lecturer on, LGBT issues.)

(First posted at God is for Suckers!)