Imposing your will upon others

Doubt is to certainty as neurosis is to psychosis. The neurotic is in doubt and has fears about persons and things; the psychotic has convictions and makes claims about them. In short, the neurotic has problems, the psychotic has solutions.

Thomas Szasz


A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Mead

To see the world clearly as it is, gives rise to a sense of certainty – but true certainty must be affirmed with facts, arrived at from facts and be free from skeptical reserve or personal preference tainting the observed state.

Certainty can be wrongful achieved by seeing only one’s preferred interpretation coupled with strong cognitive dissonance to ignore or dismiss all evidence to the contrary and rightfully achieved by seeing the world as it is when it does not conform to your preferences or expectations. Certainty, when it begins with the conclusion and then seeks facts to support the conclusion, is not certainty, but confirmation bias parading as certainty.

Religion is the most dangerous  example of certainty absent evidence; because it is the sense of certainty that gives not only permission, but the duty to those enthralled to act as if the certainty is irresistible and undeniable truth. It requires them to spread their confirmation bias through the word or the sword, if they are true believers – moderate believers tend towards contentment to keep it to themselves and to live and let live – however, these moderate believers give a social validation to the fundamentalists.

The courage of one’s convictions is a measure of certainty and I am appalled when people are admired for their convictions when these convictions were proven wrong or were dubious claims to begin with. It is not admirable to as if something is certainly true, when it is patently not.

It is curious that the same Americans who stand patriotic, my country right or wrong, are only willing to do so when their “country” is in line with what they think is right, even if it’s proved wrong later such as Bush II and the mythical weapons of mass destruction – because these right wringers are the same people that form the birther/tea bagger movement, who cannot accept that their country voted in a black president – a man the world had endorsed as being the right man for the job – who are basically claiming to stand with their country when they are actually standing against it by undermining their President and their government in partisan games with the global economy at stake while they threaten to take their ball and bat and go home.

Who claim that judges are activates when judges rule within the law and legal precedent because they seek to assert their usually religious beliefs as being above secular law and more often than not, they haven’t bothered to actually understand the secular law of the land, because cognitive dissonance cannot be maintained when faced with contradictory facts and confirmation bias is the process by which we avoid inconvenient facts and truths to maintain our certainty of bias and perception.

Which is why, when a person expresses their certainty with extreme action, such as in Norway this year or 9/11 in 2001 – because Margaret Meed is right, a small group or individual can change the world, and often, small groups and individuals are disaffected and disengaged and seek to impose their certainly about how the world should be through violence – the mainstream then is appalled and cannot reconcile that they share characteristics of the violent terrorists and seek to disown them as not true whatever the common ground is – but the reality is that the people who are so certain of their rightness, of their truth, are the truest of believers and their violent actions serves as evidence of their certainty and belief – total commitment of themselves and lives to advance their beliefs.

How is this meaningfully different than President GW Bush sending American troops to Afghanistan and Iran?

The only substantial difference is that the terrorists tend to doing their own work in support of their ideals while politicians send other people to carry out the business of enforcing their ideals and decisions in support of said ideals. But it’s not a meaningful difference.

To the certain person, everyone who opposes their certainty is expendable for the cause – that we give a mandate to some people of certainty to occupy a position of power  is not meaningfully different than a person who acts without a popular mandate as a lone gunman. Both certain people are costing other people their lives in pursuit of what they are certain about – the consent or lack of consent of those who’s lives are lost, is only problematic for those of us who doubt that anything is worth costing a live or lives for. The loss of life is not a concern for those who are certain of the cause.

We do not always have to await the judgment of history to see disaster in the making, if we look at facts and remove, reduce or account for personal preference and confirmation bias. If we take effort to see the facts on the ground, the situation as it is, understand the historical and current event context – the past explains the present and informs the future.

It seems to me that if a cause is truly just, then it is achievable through peaceful means and within the systems available in society – this is why gays and atheists do not engage in violence to attain legal rights and recognition.

It is only when the cause is not just but is held by fanatical certainty, that the adherents make no headway through legal and peaceful means, which do not and cannot dissuade them of their certainty, that they resort to violence to either force others to accept their convictions or to terrorize people into not opposing them.

Because of this, resistance is never futile – even if all is lost – because dying defending against injustice is a more meaningful death than dying to impose injustice – either are martyrs to their cause, but at least being against injustice is a cause truly worth dying for, and the world needs to unite against injustice and against the violence that would assert injustice to become a world without hate and bigotry – a world truly worth living in.

Question of Life and Death

The reason why people cling to religion is often a fear of death, the more obsessed with death, the more religious a person is. Goth and Emo kids are mere morbid amateurs compared to fundamentalist religious believers who live their lives as if it’s a mere dress rehearsal for the afterlife that they hope death brings them or brings to them.

Death is part of life, necessary even, so what happens will be part of the natural universe, this being the case, no need to fear or attempt to anticipate or manipulated the process as religious believers attempt. There’s no reason to believe that death is any different for humans than it is for any other animal.

To the best of our knowledge, biochemical energy present in life converts to heat energy in death and our inert bodies become food for other animals on down to single cell organisms, depending on the circumstances of death. Energy isn’t lost, it’s recycled and composted.

Believers hope for some kind of continuous conscious existence after death and live their lives according to their chosen religion to achieve their preferred afterlife. Well, attempt to – more often than not, religion is a trial and error, providing an unattainable ideal, requiring either several lifetimes to get it right or requiring repentance for forgiveness.

Such forgiveness being in awfully short supply from those that expect it from their god for themselves, but are usually unwilling to extend such courtesy to other people, proffering gloating over “you’ll get yours when you die, atheist”; which puts a chill on the idea of heaven, since it clearly cannot exist without hell; and how can any truly morally person be pleased to be in heaven, knowing that hell is full of people just as deserving of forgiveness as those who are in heaven?

Non-believers don’t concern themselves with inevitable and uncontrollable things like death – so when believers ask non-believers to engage in Pascal’s Wager, it’s futile for more than the obvious reasons of picking one of tens of thousands of equally viable gods and that any deity worth worshiping would hardly be fooled by hedging one’s bets in halfhearted belief and worship.

The cost of living your life according to an arbitrary, contradictory and impoverished morality such as lowest common denominator frameworks that religions demand, is to waste your life being a morbid control freak overly concerns with trifles such as magical garments, time consuming group meetings, meaningless ritual, what or who to do with your genitals and worse, far too much concern with what other people may or may not be doing to or with their genitals.

People who claim to be pro-life attach themselves to preventing living women from terminating unwanted pregnancies or terminating life support of comatose people who have no likelihood of returning from a state of mere existence to a state of life. Preventing these beings that are merely existing and are not independent living beings in any meaningful understanding of life and living, from returning to the god that the pro-life purport to believe in, seems contrary to their faith and are in effect, an attempt to control the existence of other people.

These other people being those living pregnant women and family members who are seeking to end a mere existence and reduce suffering, their own and likely that of the comatose person, and to terminate an unwanted for whatever reason pregnancy, which is a special kind of suffering that no child should ever have to understand, being unwanted.

Strange then that these people should call themselves pro-life, when they support military troops – people of youth and prime breeding age more often than not – to be sent into war to be maimed, killed or psychologically harmed, resulting in impaired post-war living.

It would seem to me that to actually be pro-life, one’s mission should be focused on improving the lives of people currently living, not preventing the death of people merely existing post traumatic brain injury with little hope of or any meaningful recovery or the unborn potential person. Since the actual impact of pro-lifers is not the improvement of anyone’s life, but the merely meddling and intimidating in other people’s lives and life decisions, we should call them by what they are, rather than how they would like to be seen – and that is, pro-death.

An important aspect to understanding any group motivation is to review the characteristics of the group, and what’s most telling is that the majority of so called pro-lifers are publically Christian, heterosexual and largely Caucasian and upper to middle class. Poorer social classes tend to not have the leisure time to protest, so there’s a certain affluence required to be able to menace medical staff and clients at abortion clinics or families at hospitals discussing terminating life support during working hours.

What’s significant about the protestors being largely Caucasian, is that a large motivator is racism, often, people are only against abortions by women of their same group, as they are in fear of being outnumbered by other groups of people – thus there is often scathing remarks about cultures that live in multi-generational family units with pooled resources – something all people engaged in pre-industrial revolution and pre-middle class who started packing granny off to nursing homes post WWII.

The benefit of living in a secular democracy where personal freedoms are guaranteed are the ability to make life’s decisions for yourself, free from interference from the state, but more importantly, from the interference of other people.

This is the concept that is missed by religious pro-deathers. They are not able to understand that is it not their place to impose their choices and beliefs on other people. They do not accept that they are living in a secular society that has determined individuals the right to choose and they seek to insert their god and beliefs into government policy and assert control over your life and body. This is not acceptable and should be vigorously rebuffed, as they would rebuff any attempt to assert control over their lives.

What’s particularly interesting, is that the pro-deathers are unable to separate their beliefs from their person – and when the matter of gay rights comes up for a referendum in the US states and to a lesser extent, when gay marriage was debated in Canadian Parliament – the rally cry was that gay marriage not be forced upon their lives.

A truly bizarre argument, since no government has ever considered passing a law requiring people to marry anyone of the same gender as themselves – in fact, secular governments do not make laws requiring anyone to marry, they only confer certain rights and benefits to married people.

That gays form pair bonds and make lives together does not take away anything from straight couples who do the same. This idea that marriage becomes a lesser state, less desirable for straight people if gay people are also permitted to marry ties right back to that believers seems to only be able to enjoy the idea of heaven, so long as there is a hell for most other people.

It is a particularly childish and vile behaviour that their enjoyment of a thing is only pleasurable so long as others are denied the same. Which may make sense why they focus on making the lives of as many people as possible miserable by forcing them to full term an unwanted pregnancy and expect the baby to be offered for adoption for presumably more deserving and worthy people – as long as they are a straight couple of course, forcing people to bankrupt on medical bills on a hopeless and meaningless extension of existence and for the family of the comatose to experience prolonged suffering and grief, and to send perfectly healthy young men and women to fight for the continued profits of the rich in a religious crusade.

It is not the case that new atheists are particularly different from whoever the old atheists were, it is merely the case that atheists are no longer willing to coddle the sensibilities of religious believers who have consistently demonstrated no compassion or concern for anyone else, and who are now reaping the treatment and consideration that they have sown.

God’s Toadies

Religious believers are a curious bunch who spend a lot of energy propping up their beliefs with word games, fallacious logic and outright cognitive dissonance in their rejection of reality.


Believers assert that prayer works and that all prayers are answered, but sometimes (imagine sad face here), sometimes the answer is no.


So a god who is capable of poofing the universe into existence and requires no cause for itself, is going to consistently respond with a “no” to the prayers of starving children, cancer ridden children, amputees and paraplegics?  This all powerful god is going to say “no” to abducted children being tortured and raped for years or just for a while before they are murdered and left in a shallow grave? “No” to the altar boys?


Is god too busy saying “yes” to sports teams? “Yes” to companies that produce the tools of war, “yes” to young and able bodied men and women to enter the field of battle only to be removed in whole or in parts in body bags?


Yet believers ask that us non-believers accept that their god is good and kind and loving and always answers prayers and then don’t bother to downplay that failing to accept and worship – and correctly, mind you, the correct kind that the particular believer does, not how believers of the 38,000 other versions of Christianity and let’s not mention other religions at all worship – failure to worship means eternal hell and torment.


At this juncture, it is difficult to discern if the believer’s face is damp with tears of despair over your hell fate or drool of anticipation, since, after all, heaven is an exclusive club and it’s not fun having eternal bliss unless others are not merely denied said bliss, but are actively tortured.


I do wonder though, given the exquisiteness of that very fine line between pleasure and pain, that heaven and hell couldn’t been seen as one and the same – after a time, bliss would become mind boggling boring, torturous even and after a time, pain levels off and becomes manageable, in order to understand either, you have to switch between them; you can’t really identify a thing in isolation of all other factors, pleasure and pain are best understood in conjunction or alternating, and eventually, they are indistinguishable.


So, the Abrahamic god is either non-existent, in which case, the world is as we expect it to be and prayers are meaningless.


Or the Abrahamic god exists but is callous, disinterest at best or cruel, vainglorious and evil at worst, in which case, prayers are ignored or answered no, and again, the world is as we expect it to be but prayers to such a deity are pointless.


Or the Abrahamic god exists but is a confused, demented, absent minded, in which case, most prayers are ignored or answered no and the handful that are answered with a yes are of such small impact with such a low bar for attainment, as to be meaningless – because winning a sports game versus thousands of children dying from malnutrition every day – that’s a god who can’t prioritize or is – well – makes sense if god’s a cat god and we’re just it’s playthings.


In any event, the Abrahamic god of Judaism, Islam and Christianity is a jealous, insecure, violent and cruel – and nothing worth worshipping.


So that the believers of Islam and Christianity continue to spread the word by the sword and threats of damnation and violence is not surprising, given their role model. Jews, being confident in their being the chosen ones, aren’t interested in recruiting; to be chosen, you have to be born to it.


Which probably explains why Christians and Islamists bicker so much, killing each other and shouting, “Hey god, look at me, I dispatched an infidel/heathen, pick me pick me.”


Christians and Islamic people are the toadies to god’s bully.


As such, they are carrying out the spreading of the word with the sword in countries where they can openly get away with it, and by terrorists actions in countries where they cannot openly operate – such as shooting abortion doctors, bombing abortion clinics, suicide bombing in public areas and checkpoints.


I guess they have to go out with a bang to announce their arrive to their god, who must be quite deaf by now from all the sword clashing, weapon firing and bombs detonating in praise of god.


Not all believers are willing to suicide their way to martyrdom and some are even squeamish about shooting doctors, so they take out their violent tendencies with a veneer of civilized conduct – and head out to the voting booth to vote against equal rights for gays and lesbians,  contribute to campaigns that uphold Christian values and ignore that abstinence seems to only speed the deflowering of virgins and increase the number of pregnant teenagers, as well as support the continued spread of AIDs and other sexually transmitted diseases, basically ensuring that woman in other nations will never achieve any measure of personal sovereignty and control over her own reproduction.


And the squeamish believers pray. They pray for the people they don’t like to be smitten, smote, smoted? smotten? punished – and nothing happens to these people that they have identified to their god as deserving of punishment.


How dare those gays and lesbians just go ahead and form families, be all university educated and make more money than decent god-fearing people. And those angry at god atheists and smug humanists and damn free thinkers, educated elite smug bastards deserve a comeuppance – but, the uppance doesn’t come.


Does the believer accept their prayer was answered with a no? Hell no. They set about to activity punish people now on earth – whether they think they are softening us up for hell, or just like regular toadies, want to feel like they are the big bully – so they kick at the non-believers and/or the perverts to give a taste of what’s to come, to make themselves feel the glory and power of god working through them and they sally forth and smite away.


Voting against equal rights, burning crosses on lawns, shooting abortion doctors, dragging people for miles behind their pick up trucks, suicide bombing, gay bashing, protesting and threatening abortion clinic staff and clients, performing exorcisms to pray away the gay, to threaten, abuse and attack both physically and psychologically – and to declare victory over the dead bodies of teens and young adults who have committed suicide than face a life and a world that they would have to share with these god toadies turned representative bullies on earth.


Because clearly, when god answers a prayer for something good with silence, it means no, but when god answers a prayer for retribution and destruction with silence, it means sally forth and do it in my name.


This is supposed to be compelling evidence of god’s love – that god’s people will deny us equal rights, attack us on every front, and revel in our hurts and deaths. Perhaps this is an insight into what kind of place heaven and hell is – for it is here and now – for believers, getting to do what they want to who, without fear of consequences is heaven – and what they want is to make life hell for those of us who do not share their delusion, religion.


Now, there are moderate believers who can refrain from violence, but that’s more to their being good people, with a connection to the community, to having lives, families and friends, economic participation – they have something to lose – so they refrain from criminal actions that would make them subject to human law – besides all the hellfire stuff isn’t real to them, they cheery pick an easier going version of religion, one that does not make demands of them, and allows them to just be as they are with a thin veneer of religion to give them hope that they won’t really die.


Moderates of a religion are really no different than a person who takes bits and pieces from a range of religions and customizes one for their self. Moderates are not believers in a religion, Moderates are people who have taken bits from and forged their own religion, to suit their needs.


Because pure religion has clearly failed to provide framework for guiding and maintaining moral conduct as it is understood today. The Bible was written by people in the bronze age, and these were far more violent times and the violence was not only acceptable, but expected. After the fall of the Roman empire, the middle east was as the wild west – lawless with no comprehensive system of law or justice, it was a period of might makes right. This is not a workable practice in the modern world, which has a system of interrelated laws, not only within each nation, but also governing each nation’s relationships.


Science has replaced religion as the framework to understand the world and ourselves.


International Secular Law, and the rule of law in Democratic nations has replaces religion as the framework to govern our interactions with each other.


Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology has replaced religion as a means to understanding ourselves individually.


This leaves religion in a very precarious place of being all tarted up and nowhere to go – the gaps are filling, the needs are changing, and religion no longer provides a workable framework for guiding behaviour – how many more riots over cartoons and art displays, how many more children have to step forward to identify their abuser priests, how many more religious leaders have to be exposed as adulterers, embezzlers, or closeted gay adulterers, how much more suicide bombers and inter-religious violence of not being able to get along with even members of the same religion, when sitting on the floor vs sitting on the chairs results in the police being called in to break up the Sheikh service? Recently, the KKK protested the Westborough Church for picketing at Arlington Cemetery – the hate groups are turning on each other!


It’s said that it’s a poor operator who blames the tools, but at some point, you have to step back and evaluate – are you using the right tools? Are these tools able to get the job done?


Religion does not provide a framework to live a moral life or to work and play well with others.


Religion is a tool to control the masses of people to accept their poverty or bad events as their own fault, to bring money into the coffers of the temple and allow the leadership to live an extravagant lifestyle, which given the adultery and embezzlement scandals, even this semi-honestly achieved opulence isn’t ever going to be enough and they soon become as decadent as the money changers that were ousted from the temple, according to the story, anyway.


So yes, at some point, the system and not the operator, has to be blamed for allowing the abuses to flourish, because the system has no means to self correct or even enforce itself.


Because any religious leader, no matter how many children he raped, or adult women or men he had sex with, no matter how much money he squirreled away, or drugs or debauchery – the get out of hell free card is the quality and public repentance. Repent and be forgiven.


Repent does not restore the children’s innocence and the lack of consequences means that the children grow up unable to ever trust authority – repentance is too often, I am sorry I got caught, I am sorry that you got hurt – and few seem to notice that these fall far short of “I am sorry that I did this to you.”


It is only in taking responsibility for your harmful actions that you can be forgiven – and forgiveness starts with the person you harmed, not forgiving yourself or thinking your god forgives you after a few ritual words and gestures.


The healing cannot being for the victim, until the wrong done them is acknowledged and responsibility/liability for it accepted. No healing is deserved for the victimizer without any healing for the victim, otherwise, the hurt remains and festers.


Believers clearly need something other than religion, for it has failed to give them the moral guidance to be able to work and play well, responsibility and fairly with others.