Moderates and Apologetics are not True Beleivers

In a way, I can admire the clarity of thinking of fundamentalist believers; they just believe whatever is told them, without question. It must be very restful to not struggle to understand, but just accept. I can understand the appeal of that – it takes no effort to not think, but just go about your business and life with a sense of surety of purposes, and not merely certainty, but absolute certainty of your place and everyone else as lesser than you, because god said so. How can people even argue with that? God said so because either I or one of God’s earthly representatives said that god said so.

The people I find confusing are the moderates and worse, the apologetics. People who do not take the sacred texts as literal and just cherry pick what suits them as need be – but rather moderates and apologetics undermine the sacred texts as metaphor or stories to illustrate truths rather than being historical telling. Moderates who bend their religion to appear to blend or bend to the reality of history and scientific knowledge.

How can they maintain a faith in a god, when they aren’t really convinced? That they acknowledge inconsistencies and inaccuracies – that they have to put actual effort in maintaining their beliefs – they must be exhausted from being on the defensive from fundamentalists who require no mental effort, but who expend energy into converted by the word or the sword; and from non-believers who constantly point out more and more reality, more and more scientific knowledge that poke bigger and bigger holes in religion and leave narrower and fewer gaps in knowledge for god to occupy.

Part of the problem is expectations, we are instant gratification seekers, so I can see the appeal of religion as providing apparently simple and very easy answers to any question. Goddidit, God’s will, sometimes the answer to a prayer is no.

You can pick any question, spin the wheel and any of these three things will provide an answer to the question. And don’t think too much about them not being actual answers that satisfy anything except the person who don’t want to think too hard or think unpleasant thoughts like, the invisible is pretty much the same as the non-existent.

And, if the universe has a causal agent, god, then what came before god? At which point, the believer brain freezes and numbs over from the blasphemy backlash.

But, by believer logic, if god needs no causal agent or anything before, then why can’t the universe be positioned the same way? Or at least, the horror, leave the question unanswered. What caused the big bang? We don’t know. Yet.

What caused the Big Bang? “God” or “We Don’t Know. Yet.”   The response “God” leaves a full but unsatisfied feeling, while, “We Don’t Know. Yet”. This promise of eventually finding an answer is exciting, tantalizing, it demands action and answering, but filling in the answer blank with “god”; that stops all questions but answers nothing.

Science is the study of nature, god is outside of nature. In religious studies, despite the number of people who claim to present the various gods on earth, gods and their ways are not accessible to mere humans, who worship, appease, pray and sacrifice, without ever being able to predict the particular god’s response – and so assume that lack of response to be a no; yet, they continue to worship their absentee and deadbeat deity.

That the universe exists does not confirm the existence of a god – and especially, not any particular god. And there’s been a lot of them worshiped by all the civilizations and tribes and even individual people throughout human history. Moreover, the apparently orderliness of the universe suggests no god at all, for any god would have to exist outside of such orderliness.

Further, human brains are pattern seekers – we cannot know that there’s actual order or are we merely imposing order on the parts of the universe that what we can perceive; except that for the universe to exist, it must be orderly, otherwise, the universe wouldn’t be coherent and stable enough for life to be able to evolve. Chaos with infinite time, resolves into order, for chaos, is not sustainable.

Again, no gods are required, as gods are not agents of order and are not confined by the apparent laws of nature, thus, they cannot exist in nature. Logically, gods are not compatible with order and as such, they have no impact in practical terms.

Especially, to the usual apologetic position of what if what the god willfully does is to give the appearance of order – like making things appear mature so disguise the young age of the world. The simpler answer is that things are exactly as they appear to be, and there’s no need for any god to make them appear as they would be if they were as old as they actually are. Simple age and passage of time can easily explain the appearance of oil and geological features, without resorting to a trickster god who makes the world appear old.

Indeed, why go through all of the machinations of making the world appear old and god hiding behind the appearance of a natural world, if the world is indeed young and managed hands on by god?

The effort of moderates and apologists to cling to their gap-god, when the gaps are becoming fewer and narrower with the passage of human time, is staggering and mind boggling all on it’s own. The effort to reject realty and nature is to maintain a cognitive dissonance of Herculean proportion.

This is the problem of denying reality’s pointing to natural processes to explain the appearance and fact of things, leaving the apologist to claim that that god makes things look the way we would expect natural processes to achieve?

Seriously, god made oil appear to be made in a way that indicated a hundreds of millions of years process; god has arranged the universe in a way that it appears that there’s no god, yet, this same god expects to be openly acknowledged and worshiped for all these naturally appearing processes?

Don’t apologists think it’s odd for a god who is too shy to make it’s presence openly known and acknowledged, to demand to be worshipped before all other gods, is not only pathologically jealous but also shy?

If there is a god who is so powerful as to be able to manipulate everything to appear as though there was no god, while only revealing itself to a few humans who are in on it and who are charged with convincing everyone else to worship said shy god on pain of death now or everlasting torture?

Really, this god sounds like all the mythical evil tricksters who don’t need worship, so much as willing followers to drain of life force, as if the god derives power from those willing to hand it over not those who have been compelled to, but who are willing. Is this why god believers claim we have free will and that is what we are to hand over to said god by our worship? If there were a good god, then it would leave us to our own devices and not interfere with humans. Only an evil god would want us divided and our attention diverted to themselves rather than our own potential.

After all, if god proved he existed, then there would be little choice but to worship – thus, what god wants, and what anyone who seeks to be the leader of people want: unquestioning obedience.

That is not something that any person who believes in the ideas of a secular democracy should be willing to hand over to anyone – this explains why Americans promote their form of government as the ideal of individual freedoms, but still feel the need to be armed against the government, if it should fall into disrepute and act against individual human rights, that the population can withstand or hold the government accountable.

The true American values are not Christian values, but are the social liberal values that upholds the individual, the inclusion of groups of marginalize people and the opportunity to economically participate and to be heard in the larger society. The poor, hungry and tired of the world, who seek a place they can call and have as home.

Religious people do not understand atheism at all. Religious believers are motivated by promises or threats of afterlife reward and deeply attached to tradition, wherein all their thinking about the big picture has been done and is ready made packaged for them. They simply and literally do not understand that atheists are not only not motivated, but honestly do not expect, anticipate or wish for an afterlife reward.

People who have adopted religion have embraced a system of beliefs that provide answers instead of questions, that tell comforting stories that they individually matter when the world does not give this assurance, it soothes the brow and warms the heart with promises of love and care taking and justice for all.

Admittedly attractive, but, like pastries and cakes in the bakery window – pretty to look at and to smell, but tasteless and unsatisfying – especially compared to homemade offerings that take knowledge and effort, craftsmanship and artistry.

Atheists reject claims for any afterlife for the same reason as we reject religion – there is no evidence to support the claims – only subjective experience and wish/fearful thinking of death; all propped up by so called sacred texts that have no basis in historical fact – other than being set in a particular geographic region where cities and villages and some people actually existed, but the sacred texts are no more truthful than any movie or TV show set in a real city and occasionally incorporating a real life person or event within the fictional world of the show.

No comfort at all is scary when compared to the false comfort of religion, but, if you are unafraid, there is simply no lack of comfort to fear.

It is the rejection of religious claims, full stop. There is nothing else too it than that simple premise.

Anything else is down to the individual and nothing to do with atheism. This is why there is no atheist suicide bombers or political system or genocide.

Atheism offers nothing to die or kill for.

It takes religion…

When the violence that is done in the name of religion – shooting abortion doctors, suicide bombing, 9/11, crusades, witch trials, Spanish Inquisition, the Satanic Daycare scares, editorial cartoon riots and the like, Believers assert that that if everyone stopped believing in religion that humans would just find another reason to kill each other.

I disagree, at least with respect to war and hate crimes. Murder for profit and sexual kicks will continue on unhampered and tend not to be religiously motivated; but for the killing that has a religious component, for that to be gone, would take something pretty spectacular to replace as a justification.

Sure there’s bigotry and a lot of discriminatory isms – but the dislike and mistrust of a group is largely motivated, encouraged and justified by religious sentiment.

Believers of one faith are often quick to condemn the violence of other faiths, or worse, speak about said violence with a twinge of jealousy, we’re so put upon but we don’t riot like they do.

Religion’s primary fear is contamination as represented by in-breeding, out-breeding, social and attitude changes towards opening up the group to new and different people. The basis of religion is that the members are special, singled out for divine favour above all others who are not, because they have willful rejected the one truth god and faith for lesser or worse, none at all.

The religious are in a difficult situation, they want to be special, which means a smaller group – and the more people denied heaven, the sweeter and better it is to look down at all the immoral elitists who thought they were better and smarter than you and just lookie where that got’em, by golly.

But, being a minority themselves, they have to wonder, what if they picked the wrong god? So they set out to spread the truth by the word or the sword and get sheer numbers on their side, as if the true religion is determined by a first past the post vote by membership numbers.

So what does being a member of the one true god’s bestest flock? Well, heaven, duh. Okay, plus you’re special because you’re in the best group and all other groups are not only less than yours, but doomed besides. Stupid people rejecting the one true god and the group who worships correctly, they should be shown the error of their ways or pay the penalty now.

Makes it easy to force conversion by fear and violence, group by group or one by one, all the same to the true believer, who, luckily, has the one true god on their side who doesn’t like all the right people. Those would be the gay people, the non-believers, the wrong-believers, especially the wrong-believers who’s beliefs are kissing cousins but the believers themselves aren’t anyone you want to be seen with at the pub on Main St. USA town. You know, swarthy types who hate Godfearing Americans.

Aside: I never got how a loving god is a feared god, does god need a selfhelp book? Deities who love too much and worshippers who fear them? Scaring Worshippers for Dummies? Deities are from outside nature and believers are cosmic spittle unworthy of being stepped on?

It takes religion for a person to believe that they are actually better than any other person or groups of people. A person who is merely uncomfortable; up to a certain degree of xenophobia (fear of people who differ, not Xena warrior Princess, well, there’s plenty of reasons to fear Xena, but that’s a different blog) is natural and actually still serves the survival instinct. After xenophobia comes bigotry, where one’s discomfort with people who have different characteristics result in discrimination, perhaps an unwillingness to employ or promote a person or rent them property or do business with certain groups.

As illegal as all that is, it’s a far cry from outright slavery, genocide, internment camps and enshrining discrimination into law. For that degree of escalation, it takes religion to be the underlying motivation, the fuel source for the lesser hatred of mere bigotry – because religion provides a divine justification – it’s not just you who doesn’t like other people, you’re just following orders and going along with god’s dislike of Those People. Those lesser people. Those lesser than you people. Those undeserving, immoral, flaunting and ramming it down society’s faces people who need to be made an example of, and god’s gonna git them, right after you do.

After all, what does it matter that you do terrible things to people you believe are bound for hell anyway? You’re just helping them getting used to it, it’s not immoral to give immoral people their just deserves? God gives brownie points for those kinds of things, just showing them the error of their ways and the chance to call out to god and repent.

It take religion to convince a person that other people don’t matter in this life because they are doomed for eternity anyway, or maybe they are like animals, they just get this one life and there’s no animal afterlife.  Mere bigotry isn’t enough – you might not rent out a house or give a job to a person from a group you don’t like; but it take religion to justify tying them to the bumper of your truck and dragging them miles down a dirt road to their death or to shoot a doctor who performs abortions while they are sitting down to dinner with their family or strapping a bomb to your body and walking into a crowded market full of infidels. Fun times, doing god’s work.

Maybe dogs get a heaven, if they were good dogs.

How Individuals bring social change

From my current experience within an existential existentialist crisis (what meaning can a life of meaning have when societies are not durable and civilizations rise and fall); I have come to understand that there are absolute truths. They are beautiful and boring, both at the same time.

But what the specific truths are, are in fact clichés – and they fall flat for the majority of us as trite and as bumper sticker caliber and resonant as simple truth – for an absolute truth is the distilled essence, and it is elegant and beautiful – which is why truth is beauty and beauty truth and that is all we know or need to know as Keats wrote – and thy do not need to be defined in relationship to a third factor to qualify theme as is endlessly debated in literature classes – which makes truth is beauty so simple and elegant and absolutely true in and of itself – therein lies the beauty!

The clinches are conveyed to us in poetry – which very little that is claimed to be poetry actually is – for poetry is extremely structured and economical, highly compacted phrases and words with multiple nuances – and not, as o called modern poetry is, lacking reason and rhyme and tends towards randomness and chaos – for in this state, there is no truth as everything is equal, with the same and no meaning at all.

Structure is a framework for understanding, and people who avoid mastering structure in favour of making their own story telling – which is about the construction, the structure – cannot convey meaning to their audience, with whom, the structure is the framework of understanding and meaning.

Knowing what forms denote a sonnet, we can understand the form and the meaning within and be able to determine the success or failure of the sonnet to achieve it’s ability to convey meaning and the value or beauty of the meaning.

Much like a sport has meaning from the game rules and conventions – one can enjoy any sport where the rules are understood and followed – and watching a game with an uneven number of players in widely diverse uniforms, on an unfamiliar field and equipment and inconsistent plays and referee calls would make little sense and be frustrating – even on a pleasant weather day with an alcoholic beverage and no place else to be. So does poetry and story telling derived meaning from the rules and the framework of the rules.

Our culture, our civilization, our beliefs and everything else that generates meaning – which is to say, anything that communicates meaning to us – is dependant on the framework, the rules of the framework and the resulting actions, relationships or objects.

Self esteem is no different – when we derive our self esteem from an internally sustaining source of self worth – we truly have boundless energy. What throws us out of kilter and lowers our self esteem are external messages that demean or deny our value.

But we are an object in a larger structure – each acting independently in a social structure that has conventions and rules – which are derived from the social framework.

So, if your self worth comes from within, but your society does not recognize your individual value – then you have to question the validity of your value or the values of society.

When enough people question the values of the society – social change occurs. Women got to vote. Slavery was legally abolished. Civil rights are enshrined and as more people accept that change in the social framework, the civil rights become enforced and over time, just part of the framework.

This way, it remains possible for a person to deny marriage to gays and lesbians, but cringe in horror at the suggestion that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

People who are amendable to change are those who’s personal framework of self value is inconsistent with the social rules and framework – or, they are people who’s personal framework has only recently been accommodated within the social framework and are still feeling the rejection keenly enough to empathize with other groups who are out of sync with the social framework.

It’s all fine and good for gays and lesbians to have civil rights enshrined in law when white gay and lesbians are then able to move about the white mainstream, while non-white gays and lesbians – who often worked to achieve the advancement, inclusion in the social framework, but who continue to be second class in the social framework because they are not white, they battle a compounded out of sync as non-white gays and lesbians. They are faced with mainstream discrimination as non-white members of a largely white society and discrimination as a gay person in a mainstream heterosexual society, and as a non-white gay person in the smaller non-white sub culture of the mainstream society. So, a white gay person in a largely white society faces the single level discrimination as gay in straight-world, but the non-white gay person faces two counts of mainstream and one count of subculture discrimination.

The characteristic that you value – yourself, your sexuality, your beliefs, every factor that makes you you – when it is not tolerated or even criminalized by the larger society – you face only two options. Change yourself or change society.

You are an agent of change.

What opposes you are the people, and their larger groups, who dominate society and make the rules within the framework. The framework is very influenced by religion or political agendas – which is why societies that are more homogenous are more harmonious – the majority is accommodated in the existing framework and there are very few minority groups or individuals seeking accommodation and inclusion.

That the Scandinavian countries have the highest standards of living and the least amount of social discord is not because they are Scandinavian, but rather because the majority of individual members share the same primary group identifiers.

This is why it is almost funny that the Nazi party idealized tall blonde and blue eyed people – they appear to have the best society – but, this is a ideology based on a faulty premise that it is the characteristics, rather than the degree of a set of characteristics that are shared. What makes the Nazi ideology is laughable is that the Scandinavian countries largely rejected Nazi ideology and the highest ranking Nazis were not at all Scandinavian.

So, back to societies in general and away from the evil that happens when political or religious ideology corrupts absolutely when that political and religious ideology is not kept in check and balance with the larger society.

The reason that social advances arrive in fits and spurts is actually a numbers game. Change literally does start with one person standing up and challenging the social conventions. When enough other people stand up and demand change on their own or on behalf of other people, then change occurs – first in law, and as people acclimate, then in practice – the change then becomes the convention, which people then defend the convention from further change – when the changes are not consistent with their own self value in relationship to the social rules and social framework.

This is how a religious person who is convinced that a person’s value is based on their compliance with god’s will – whatever that is currently defined as – will claim to be loving of all people while opposing a legal change that recognizes that person’s social value. AKA love the sinner, hate the sin. Which means, it’s tough love and tough noogies for being socially accepted you sinner.

The religious person will resist social change that means that a person they do not value – ie ethnic, sexual and belief minorities (beliefs being religions other than ones’s own, political views other than one’s one, or worse, non-belief) – suddenly has social value – because the one thing that a religious and political fundamentalist believer values above people, is compliance with the rules of the framework. The framework being their religious or political (usually their religious and political beliefs)  beliefs.

So, it is not the case that the Republican Party – you know, Lincoln’s party that freed the slaves – is being highjacked by the Christian religious right who oppose further advancement of rights of other and specifically sexual minorities – but rather that the party has been hijacked by religious fundamentalism that is unable to see that there is a difference between religious law and civil law. When you listen to the religious fundamentalists – how they define what is it to be an American – conformity, my country right or wrong, god first and country second – this is the very framework of theocratic nations; which are seen by the American fundies as a special kind of enemy for failing to share the values of what America stands for individual sovereignty and rights and freedoms – which if you exercise them, you are not a good American.

It truly does do your head right in if you think too hard about it.

But, this is why the fundamentalist are so driven to force everyone to comply, because then you don’t stand outside of their logic and see the obvious flaws. That they have no internal self worth and can only feel and having meaning within their preferred framework (their religion)

Fundamentalists are agents of status quo – they oppose change because change means that they have less personal value, and worst, if people who fundamentalists see as less valuable (women and other ethnicities) are deemed by the larger society to have value – then it calls into questions the fundie values who value the rules of society above all values. Largely because they expect to be able to be the primary if not only source of what those social values and rules and framework are.

Fundamentalists, individually and collectively, to retain value, have no option other than to oppose change. Reformers, individually and collectively, in order to gain value, have little option other than to create change.

So, we have societies that are currently dictatorship under religion (theocracies) or under an individual (political ideologies personified by a personality cult – ie Hitler, Stalin, Ghaddfi, Mao, etc) and we have societies that have stabilized under a duality of a two party system – then, we have more multicultural societies, as countries with alternative systems with a multiplicity of parties and often are democratic in other than first past the post systems.

The countries, and by extension the populations that enjoy the highest standard of living – with respect to life span, wealth distribution, health care, crime rates, economic participation and all the other measures that make life meaningful and enjoyable – are the countries where the population’s defaults are homogenous (ie: Scandinavian countries) and are xenophobic as a result – or countries which have a multi-party and more complex than first past the post systems of government and with a diverse population where, the majority of groups within the culture are deemed to be equally valuable both as group and individuals in relationship to one another.

Part of being a reformer, is to not be content with the social framework until all groups within the society achieve that equilibrium balance – which is why here is a sequence to the establishment of rights.

So, in the USA, Ethnic minorities had to be equal to the mainstream ethnicity in law before gender rights with respect to women being able to vote could occur. When gender rights become enshrined in law, the social convention of sexuality necessarily becomes a public discussion – as each of us in turn, compares and contrasts our sameness and differences – and, as each of us individually determine value, we align in shared value groups, who then align in interest with other groups and eventually social change becomes a juggernaught.

Society, becomes a perpetually sustained cycle of  change, as the unconventional becomes the convention.

Thus, the cliché of conventionality resonates with truth and is tiresome; both at the same time. And ain’t that beautiful?

New garden additions

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It seems that even a trip to a garden nursery isn’t without its politics and entertainment. The nursery arranged for a number of vendors and clubs to set up tables and I got into rousing conversations with a man who … Continue reading

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