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|20080707 202113 Z||Bush Edits Out Jefferson's Religious Views||scienceblogs … fersons_reli.php||digg.com/pol … ous_Views?OTC-ig||Atheism, History, Politics, Quote, USA||So typical of Bush. Aside of the religous and political implications, this is just bad quoting by Bush. Jefferson, like many of U.S. founding fathers, was a deist, which practically makes him an atheist. The article thread and digg thread also discuss Jefferson a fair bit.|
|20080814 142941 Z||The 6 Raunchiest, Most Depraved Sex Acts (From the Bible)||www.cracked. … -from-bible.html||digg.com/env … ammit_pic?OTC-ig||Atheism, Ethics, Faith, Funny, Saucy, Sex||It's pretty funny and raunchy. It's source material is the Bible as opposed to just making stuff up. No need to make stuff given that the Bible is says some mighty strange stuff. However what gets me about this one are the various reactions from the religious. It's as if they haven't read the Bible or have some dishonest or contrived interpretations of what it says. I've noticed fallacies in the Bible since I was at least seven years old and I see from the various comments that others have too.|
|20081023 161949 Z||"I can't imagine a President being named Obama"||nz.youtube.c … ch?v=UwjlUMoLVvA||digg.com/com … eing_named_Obama||Atheism, Faith, Live Action, News, Politics, TV, USA, Videos||Blatant numbing bigotry. I realize that she is just one vile woman but you can't help but feel that her ilk form an important part of the Republican base.|
|20090501 203937 Z||Why I like atheists||www.marshall … wordpress/?p=398||www.reddit.c … i_like_atheists/||Atheism, Ethics, Faith||It's refreshing to hear a theist speak pleasantly about atheists: "Considering all that, I think atheists deserve some credit. They’re logical, moral and they stand up for what they believe in. Now if we could just get religious people to do the same".|
|20090811 174914 Z||Her: "It's nice to meet nice young Christians like yourself." Me: "I'm actually an atheist." Her: "Excuse me!"||www.reddit.c … christians_like/||Atheism, Faith, Relations, Sad||Christians and Jews and so on may think they've cornered the market on being prosecuted, but we atheists face all sorts of strange hateful behavior from many so called "spiritual" folks.|
|20090813 183933 Z||(Un)wired For God||http://www.newsweek.com/id/211746||Julia||Atheism, Faith, Mind, News, Philosophy||"Religious beliefs may not be innate". Looking into the brain, hypothesizing, and doing experiments yields stuff that is fascinating. This may sound like religion too, but science does it in a more substantiated way that is open and repeatable.|
|20090917 184451 Z||Man vs. God||online.wsj.c … 30643556324.html||Atheism, Faith, Richard Dawkins||The Wall Street Journal "commissioned Karen Armstrong and Richard Dawkins to respond independently to the question "Where does evolution leave God?" Neither knew what the other would say. Here are the results."|
|20090918 172405 Z||Charles Darwin film 'too controversial for religious America'||www.telegrap … ous-America.html||digg.com/wor … eligious_America||Atheism, Faith, Nature, Show Biz, USA||It's embarrassing that the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world and yet so obtuse in certain areas. These people of "faith" who can effectively censor SCIENCE are so cowardly, unctuous, and insecure in their faith. Darwin was human, courteous, and courageous.|
|20100117 174021 Z||Atheist quotes||http://i.imgur.com/mk9bl.jpg||www.reddit.c … i_found_on_b_of/||Atheism, Images, Philosophy||Of the quotes I probably like the one by Epicurus the best: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?"|
|20100130 043515 Z||Richard Dawkins interviews creationist Wendy Wright (Part 1/7)||www.youtube. … ch?v=US8f1w1cYvs||Julia||Atheism, Evolution, Live Action, Politics, Science, USA, Videos||I watched all 7 painful videos. It seems that they agree on the virtue of examination of evidence. They also seem to agree on the humane treatment of people. The difference seems to be that Wright thinks a person's religious belief must influence the certainty of the theory, while Dawkins does not. Knowledge of chemistry, physics, evolution, etc. is objective, testable, open, and separate from ones religious, political, subjective, or ethical point of view. Such objective knowledge can, of course, be used for good or evil, i.e. subjectively applied and interpreted, but that does not change the knowledge itself. Even so, the emotional and spiritual feelings that people have must be dealt with. The woman is clearly pained.|
|20100321 033030 Z||Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show on Earth||fora.tv/2009 … olocaust_Deniers||digg.com/art … olocaust_Deniers||Atheism, Evolution, Faith, Mind, Politics||Richard Dawkins likening Creationists with Holocaust Deniers. Freedom and tolerance are good, but we should be less tolerant of religions that foster bigotry and murder.|
|20100505 021054 Z||You Can't Derive Ought from Is||blogs.discov … nt=Google+Reader||Atheism, Ethics, Faith, Mind, Philosophy||I'm obliged to post yet another follow up to Sam Harris' TED talk related to David Hume's Is-ought problem [W].|
|20101008 192552 Z||Should the Nonreligious Join in Interfaith Work||www.thenewhu … -interfaith-work||Julia||Atheism, Faith, World||Religions aren't going away anytime soon, so we should learn to live together better.|
|20130114 030459 Z||Public Praises Science; Scientists Fault Public, Media||www.people-p … lt-public-media/||Atheism, Faith, Politics, Science||This survey of 2,500 scientists covers a large number of topics. Some of the findings were expected (87% believe in evolution, 84% believe in human induced climate change), but other finds were a bit more surprising (72% men, 81% white, 6% Republican, 33% believe in God).|
Today I am forty years old. The purpose of this post is to take a written snapshot of myself on this day, my 40th birthday.
So far, today has been a good day to die; Yesterday, not so good. Here's what I wrote yesterday while on my lunch break:
2008-10-21 13:04 CST
I think it started yesterday with Colin Powell's story about the gravestone of Khan, but whatever the cause, today I'm feeling heavy and depressed. It's like I need to cry something out. It's so heavy that even though I just made myself get lunch, I haven't touched it yet.
My mind is moving in a tiny little space. It doesn't care about perspective or possibilities. I'm tired of having my time stolen from me. I'm tire of pretending. I want room.
Perhaps I need to face my limitation, define them, use them, exploit them, revel in them.
Although there is great power in working with others or dominating other, although there is great joy in befriending others, although there are advantages in leading, cooperating, collaborating, coordinating, and teamwork, I can barely tolerate it.
I am an individual.
Multiple factors distinguish today from yesterday but most of them are trivial such as the ebb and flow of my biochemical, physiological, and psychological state. Certainly my breakfast of a warm toasted "everything" bagel with a salmon shmear and a hot chocolate helped. Purposely setting myself in a more meditative with breathing, posture, and by "boxing" my thoughts helped. But happy or sad, you don't really care how you got there once you're there, although you might be interested in what to do once you're there, in which case then examining the path to the state might provide some useful info.
Sometimes I like to pull back and see things from a grander perspective. In theory I could pull back and see all of time (around 13 billion years to now) and space (around 93 billion light years), but in practice we're all flashes in the pan, and I can barely comprehend the last 40 years and I often hesitate about cleaning the space of a closet. Science and engineering are wonderful things because they allow us to see further and deeper than the obvious and we can test it to make sure that we're not just making it up. But most people are not concerned about the limits of science and engineering: Most people live in the model that they and their group(s) create.
So let me examine my models and their states for a moment.
My family. I couldn't ask for a better wife or set of kids. Julia is spicy, complex, independent, and supportive. Connie is creative, detailed, beautiful, has strong feelings, and is becoming a fine young woman. York has his own drummer, is athletic, handsome, kind, and is learning to be man. Amy is girlish, cute, likes to tie things, and is transforming from baby to child.
My finances. Financially I'm fine. My family makes more money than we spend. Our only real debt is for the house which has was not hideously overpriced like many houses were in this recent financial crisis. I work as a programmer at ICLOPS [iclops.com], a small business that I partially own, and it is doing well even though [or because?] the health care industry has serious problems in the US. Investing in gold and solar. As I've stated before: For big problems like non-hurricane proof levees, climatically dangerous environmental hazards, the health care industry, economy endangering derivatives, etc. it requires a catastrophe before action will be taken.
My exercise. I am largely recovered from knee surgery (a meniscal tear) in 2007-07. My resting heart rate is 60. My weight is 74 Kg = 163 pounds. My weight went up a few pounds with the knee issue, but as I've been recovering my waist fat has gone down somewhat and I have have had noticeable muscle gain in my chest and arms. Here are my scores for the Army PFT for males of my age: 97% for 70 push ups in a row within 2 minutes; Over 100% for 84 sit ups in a row within 2 minutes; 69% for running 2 miles = 3.2 Km in 17:48 (6.75 mph = 10.86 Km/h, or 8:54 per mile). Pull ups are not in the Army PFT, but my average is 21 in a row. In addition to the martial arts classes I run 2 miles at a times, dumbbells, barbells, swimming, heavy bag, speed bag, kata, kicks, stretching, calisthenics, and a mix of other stuff. I am not as consistent with doing simple calisthenics (like these 4: push ups, crunches, spine lifts, and squats) before each shower as I would like.
My diet. As usual I effectively do not drink alcohol, smoke, do drugs, or do caffeine. My diet is varied but I'm trying to shift to smaller meals as the day progresses. I'm also trying have meals and snacks after physical activity.
My martial arts. I practice Western Martial Arts with the Chicago Swordplay Guild (CSG) [chicagoswordplayguild.com] 1-2 times a week. I've switched to the longsword within the past few weeks because although I achieved "scholar" in rapier in 2006, a scholar in longsword is needed to do the spear. I love the CSG but the restrictions in what one can and cannot practice are annoying. Julia, Connie, York, and I have been doing aikido with the Shinjinkai [shinjinkai.org] since 2008-08. They have a koryu ("old school") or uchideshi ("inside student") emphasis as well as share the space with a Buddhist temple. It's very much a shut up and do it school. Our family was considering Extreme KungFu Wushu Training Center [extremekungfu.com], but the location was inconvenient for us. I'm reading multiple martial arts books at the moment but the two most notable ones are Hapkido: Traditions, Philosophy, Technique (2000) by Marc Tedeschi, and The 33 Strategies of War (2006) by Robert Greene. Tedeschi's book is 1,136 pages and compiles and photographs the many techniques of hapkido. Greene's book is an all time favorite of mine and it covers military and martial principles illustrated with historical accounts from combat both physical and political. If I had to pick one thing from Greene's book it would be the concept that politics is the art of promoting and protecting your own interests, i.e. politics is not just done by politicians, but by everyone, and that it is another arena of combat. My personal martial style is more relaxed, more comprehensive than before. I've also come to the realization that I personally do it for the exercise, the variety, the play, and the fight. The traditions and historical context are interesting but I'm more interested in just doing it than being scholarly about it. I've also come to the realization that practicing martial arts is not a solo activity but a rather a very social activity because you need others to play/fight with.
My philosophy. Same as in my About Me page: Epistemologically skeptical but hopeful. Deduction & induction, analysis & synthesis. I'm an empiricist and realist, but I love ideas and rationalizing. Nihilism is moot. Beauty is truthful. The singularity will occur because we can't help ourselves. "The Conversation" is important. We're seek to explore, clarify, and satisfy not obfuscate or lie. HOWEVER, After reading Robert Greene's book, I now see politics in a martial light and thus I now like politics and political philosophy, and see them as unavoidable and hence practical and pragmatic things.
My religion. People should be free to explore, seek patterns, predict, gather evidence, test, and share they see fit, i.e. people should be free to do science. People should be free to adapt, to think for themselves. In this modern age with fast global communication, knowledge should be transparent, open, and distributed. Everyone not only lives in a model that they and their group(s) created, but they also look out for themselves and their group(s) in a political sense. In this modern age we are all become tightly knit together: The global problems in the economy and environment showcase this. Balancing, reconciling, combating, politicizing the different individuals and groups with other different individuals and groups is essential. I believe that Wikipedia and Google and YouTube are systems that demonstrate most of these qualities. I am not into Scientism [W], but I believe that non-theist leaning "religions" make themselves the most open and transparent and hence the least restrictive for "science". When you have dogma leaning religions then you tend to have groups with irreconcilable differences. Having rules, laws, courts, mechanisms, etc. that can help resolve inter-group conflicts is important.
My politics. Go Obama! "Basically pro-rights tempered with sensible laws and watch-dogging." People focus so much on their differences that we forget the common ground. The government provides many necessary public services (like army, police, streets, laws, courts, etc.) and it needs to be paid for somehow (usually taxes). People should be free to do just about anything alone privately, with others privately (as long as there is consent with the others), and publicly (as long as they do not harm others).
My world. Like everyone else, there is only so much time, attention, and money I can give. Like everyone else, I have been focusing on myself, my family, a few friends, a few groups, a few topics, and The World. Like everyone else, those who we do not focus on become "invisible" (hence the need to promote). So then what are MY OWN interests? How do I choose and why? Intellectually I have wide interests, but socially I'm introverted and shy. I can see the political power of dealing with people; I can see the psychological/social/political benefits of making friends. I understand the wonder of creating joy, love, and laughter. But to be honest, I'd rather be alone or silent unless we had something quite sincere (politically, emotionally, intellectually, socially, etc.) to say to each other. Although you'd think that "noise" is something we could all do without, I think for some people the "noise" is more bearable than the "silence". Some people can more comfortably tolerate "noise" (that they make or hear from others) in order to get any sort of "music". Is it hubris on my part that I can attend a social gathering and say there's just too much "noise"? I don't know. I've probably been introverted or socially inept for most of my life and now that I'm forty, I'm ready to just accept it instead of feeling guilty about it or sorry for myself or apologizing for it.
Time to go home and have some cake with my family. Happy Birthday me!
This comment in the Digg thread expressed my opinion:
I don't think Digg is anti-religion its just pro-logic. Diggers don't hate on religion, we just hate when people use religion to interfere in the liberty of others. Example: gay marriage; a religious person see a religious issue, a Digger sees a question of freedom for a social minority. Keep your religion to yourself and Diggers will keep religious barbs at bay, unless there is a good LUL to be had.
It's not a matter of being anti-religious as a-religious. In a similar fashion the media is not anti-Conservative, but pro-"liberal": As in "broad-minded", as in wanting to see issues from multiple perspectives, as in a neutral point of view.
Another perspective is most religions are anti-religious to other religions. EG: Christians don't believe in Zeus or Thor, i.e. to a Christian, his or her beliefs are super natural yet real, while other beliefs are superstitions. Atheists, agnostics and the like generally don't believe in the super natural.
What is funny or interesting is blind to religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or culture. The issue of taste is another story.
I admire that Obama had the courage to acknowledge atheists during his inaugural address [W].
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
Instead of spending time on public debates, why aren't members of your institute publishing their ideas in prominent peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Nature, or the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences? If you want to be taken seriously by scientists and scholars, this is where you need to publish. Academic publishing is an intellectual free market, where ideas that have credible empirical support are carefully and thoroughly explored. Nothing could possibly be more exciting and electrifying to biology than scientific disproof of evolutionary theory or scientific proof of the existence of a god. That would be Nobel Prize winning work, and it would be eagerly published by any of the prominent mainstream journals.2009-04-17t17:00:53 Z | TAGS: Atheism, Faith, Introversion, My Stuff, Philosophy, Psychology, Ramblings, Relations, Thoughts
Signals and the Shared Road
This post is one of my occasional "brain dumps". I do it because thoughts float around in my head and if I don't do something specific with them, then they disappear, decay, or clutter up my head. So in lieu of doing something specific with these thoughts, I dump them out of my head by writing them down quickly without worrying too much about parsing them. A brain dump is about recording the "data" without worrying about distilling the "info". That is I'm supposed to be concerned about improving the signal-to-noise_ratio (SNR) [W] ("the level of a desired signal (such as music) to the level of background noise. The higher the ratio, the less obtrusive the background noise is").
Speaking of SNR, some of my recent thinking has to do with "the signal". One of the reasons I do my brain dumps is because my head has become too noisy, but I know that there must be some signal in there, so a brain dump may help to distill the signal. However I'm just one person: There are billions of other heads on this planet, and hence billions of SNR situations. Also it's not just about thoughts, the signal may refer to any chunk of "data" that is "info". The signal is any data that is info, beautiful, or true. The idea is partially a variation of John Keats' line: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.".
The signal may be an idea. The signal may be physical beauty. The signal may be a performance. The signal is both a class/concept and an instance/execution. I like using the word "signal" because there is not only the concept of the the signal (as in the info, the beauty, the truth), but also the concept of persisting, perpetuating, reproducing, permutating, sharing, and strengthening the signal, as well as the opposites: ending, reducing, hiding, and weakening the signal.
Parents who miscarry only just became aware of the signal of the child before they lost the signal. Parents who lose a young child only enjoyed the new signal for a short while before it went out. When someone dies that you didn't know, it is the loss of a signal that you never heard. When someone dies that you knew well, it is the loss of a familiar signal. When someone bright and dear dies, it is the loss of a beautiful signal.
We all have SNR. Some are able to share their signal externally by expressing themselves through speech, touch, writing, art. Some are able to persist their signal by the written word, photos, videos, monuments, memes. Some strengthen their signal (or the signal of others) by perpetuating, sharing, promoting, protecting, or permutating the signal. Some hide their signal. Some don't know to share their signal. Some have signals with great potential. Some have redirected signals. Some share their signal with a select group. Groups are strongest with a common signal or cause, that all in the group want support. Some blacken signals, do graffiti on signals, or diminish signals.
There are signals in nature. The beauty of a bird or a cat is a signal. The wonder of a sunrise or the stars at night are signals.
We seek out signals. We compare them and find ones that we attune to our own signal. We chose signals. A break up, a divorce, a separation, is a rejection of a signals, of non-harmonious signals, a devaluing of a signals.
I think this usage of the word "signal" is similar to the word "soul", but the word "signal" is secular, more flexible, and yet less abstract.
A friend of my recently left my company. We worked together for around 7 years. It got me to thinking of life as a shared road. The concept of life as a road or a river isn't new. Possibly the most famous usage comes from J.R.R. Tolkien who had at least 3 walking songs that start with "The Road goes ever on". See The Road Goes Ever On (song) [W]. While Tolkien's road focuses on the adventures on the road and coming home, my recent thoughts on the road have to do with sharing the road.
We can make some choices on the road. Perhaps we can choose which road to start on, or who we'll travel with. But often we don't have a choice about where we get set on the road, or about the random things that may happen on the road, or who we might randomly meet on the road, or who we might have to travel with on the road. Most of the people we meet on the road are strangers. Some we have to talk with to get groceries and such. Some we have to talk with because they're classmates or co-workers or neighbors. Some of us are more extroverted and want to talk with more on the road, while some of us are more introverted and want to talk with fewer on the road.
Let's assume that there are various causes for sharing the road that range from having a common "signal" (school, job, locality, political interests, etc.), to satisfying human social needs, to being attuned to the specific signal in an individual. The thing is we all get born, live, and die. that is metaphorically we all get on the road, we all travel on roads that we share with others, then we get off the road. I'd think that most people would want that shared road time to be meaningful at the least. Some may have additional requirements for that shared road time. Some may want it to be pleasurable, safe, sincere, adventurous, restful, productive, warm and fuzzy, and so on.
In any case, our personal time on the road of life is finite. We spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years at a time as if time was cheap. That time you were "forced" to spend with a "nobody" or nobody? Well guess what? It cost the same time as the time you "chose" to spend with a "somebody". Some people may interpret this as "Let's hurry this up because I don't want to waste another second with a nobody". I prefer to think that regardless of what part of the road I'm on, I want to be mindful of myself, the road, and anybody (if any) that I'm sharing that road with --even if they are a "nobody".
Another aspect of the shared road I've been thinking about has another temporal/spatial aspect. If you share the road with someone, and you never meet them again, then it's as if that person died. When someone dies, you never see them again in person. It's like they've permanently moved to another dimension or you permanently moved to another period in time. In one sense all the people in your past that you'll never meet again, have died. This sort of thinking can be depressing, because you might realize that all the people through out history that are dead, and that all the people in the future that you'll never meet are in a sense dead, and that all the people that you won't meet because of geography are in a sense dead, and that even in the same city all those strangers you don't meet are in a sense dead. If you don't receive a fairly regular signal from a person, then the probability is that their signal will fade to nothingness, and hence they are effectively dead.
When people move away or fall out of touch, then it is as if they have died. What's sadder is a loveless relationship where you can physically get their signal, but they're not sending you a real signal, the signal you knew, so it's as if they died. The silent treatment can be very harsh. Sometimes we may be giving people the silent treatment, and not be totally aware of it. I tend to be introverted and task focused so I'm almost certainly guilty. Anyhow the point of this shared road thought is not to make you or me depressed, but to make us mindful of the shared road and to earnestly live it. It's best to physically intimately directly get their signal by taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight. However in lieu of that a phone call, a video call, a text, an email, a letter, a note in facebook, can do wonders.2009-04-27t20:42:29 Z | TAGS: Atheism, Faith, Food, Introversion, MARTIAL, My Stuff, Psychology, Ramblings, Relations, Self Improvement
A co-worker of mine recently mentioned that I had no vices. I quickly and instinctively replied that it was a false statement because I like my salt, I like my sweets, and I procrastinate. That little exchange got me to thinking about my vices.
I've explored and written about the seven deadly sins [W], virtue [W] and variations before and I may go over them a little bit today, but my emphasis for now is to cover just a little corner of the topic from my perspective, as opposed to covering the topic in general.
The Seven Deadly Sins (in Latin & English) and their corresponding virtues:
- Luxuria = Lust v Chastity
- Gula = Gluttony v Temperance
- Avaritia = Greed v Charity
- Acedia = Sloth v Diligence
- Ira = Anger v Patience
- Invidia = Envy v Kindness
- Superbia = Pride v Humility
The Four Cardinal Virtues of the Ancient Greeks (and their corresponding vices):
- Prudence v Folly
- Temperance v Lust
- Justice v Venality
- Courage v Cowardice
Some Christian vices of the spirit:
- Blasphemy (holiness betrayed)
- Apostasy (faith betrayed)
- Despair (hope betrayed)
- Hatred (love betrayed)
- Indifference (scripturally, a "hardened heart")
GLUTTONY and folly. While I don't really drink alcohol, eat too much, eat too many simple carbs, smoke, or do drugs, gluttony is still indeed a vice of mine. I'm a saltaholic and I have a fair sweet tooth, but they are also not out of control or ruining anybody's life. My blood pressure, my weight, my teeth and my budget are all good, but in the long run I will probably want modify my diet.
SLOTH and folly. I have certain concrete slothful behaviours. I play WarCraft a bit too much --I've quit and restarted several times. I procrastinate on taking the trash out --Yes, I let it pile up in our back porch before I take it out. Those are all fairly small things. Having sloth and procrastination means that I don't live up to my potential in small ways (EG: Getting out of bed sooner) and big ways (EG: I don't "save the world" as much as I could). Sloth is probably my biggest vice. There are many causes for sloth: There is a fear of failing to live up to the potential, there is a fear of admitting the limits of ones potential, there is the fear of change or making decision, there is the fear of imperfection or incompleteness, etc. etc. Ignore all the noise. Screw the butterflies. Don't be too worried about mistakes or failures or looking good. Encourage action or progress no matter how small.
LUST. When I was younger, my thoughts and hormones pushed that way quite a bit. Thankfully things have settled down somewhat. Every body is different so we'll see how my changes as I get older. As a species we need some lust to reproduce. Lust is spicy and natural, and there will always be some folks who will over do it, but usually some temperance fixes it. The Lust/Chastity pair is overrated.
INTROVERSION. I'm on the fence on this one. People are born with physical and personality traits like black hair or introversion. While, people can easily change their hair color, it is harder to adjust a person's degree of introversion. I don't think introverts should consider themselves to have vices like sloth, folly, cowardice, despair, and indifference just because they're introverted. However we introverts do need to practice in order to increase our comfort level and our skills because communicating is important, prevalent, and often necessary. I've been thinking about Signal-to-Noise Ratio recently and an introvert is like an absence of signal, which can be disconcerting for some, and could inadvertently pass the wrong info along.
MARTIAL ARTS. I do not consider martial arts to be a sin of any sort. I'm perfectly capable of doing and enjoying violence, but there is no anger or malice in it. Even ants will defend themselves. Martial arts is good fun exercise that involves diligence, patience, humility, prudence, a sense of justice, courage, hope. The physical, tactical, and strategic skills and plays involved are wide and deep, and so are the social, cultural, historical, and scientific components.
ATHEISM. I do not consider atheism to be a sin of blasphemy or apostasy, any more than noting that 1 + 1 = 2, or that at standard temperature and pressure, most gases behave like an ideal gas. If I thought I was a better human being just because I'm an atheist, then that would be pride. (Although some atheists might say that we should be proud that we don't need divine wrath to make us nice to others.) If I thought everyone should be forced to immediately become atheist, than that would be folly and indifference.2009-04-28t21:21:33 Z | TAGS: Atheism, Culture, Faith
More Atheists Shout It From the RooftopsMore Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops [http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/us/27atheist.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1240952429-7pY1rNpIH2sa3VdtvbXweQ] [VIA: http://digg.com/arts_culture/More_Atheists_Shout_It_From_the_Rooftops]
Come out into the sunshine! -Your Friendly Neighborhood AtheistPolls show that the ranks of atheists are growing. The American Religious Identification Survey [http://livinginliminality.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/aris_report_2008.pdf], a major study released last month, found that those who claimed “no religion” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years. Nationally, the “nones” in the population nearly doubled, to 15 percent in 2008 from 8 percent in 1990. In South Carolina, they more than tripled, to 10 percent from 3 percent. Not all the “nones” are necessarily committed atheists or agnostics, but they make up a pool of potential supporters.2009-07-09t21:35:26 Z | TAGS: Atheism, Crude, Faith, Funny, Health, Quirky, Saucy, TV
Mitchell and Webb
Who forgot to tell me about Mitchell and Webb? The British comedians are awesome!
That Mitchell and Webb Look: Homeopathic A&E
Godless Comedy from That Mitchell and Webb Look
German SS officers - That Mitchell and Webb Look
Henchmen - That Mitchell and Webb Look
That Mitchell And Webb Look - Speedo #1
Of course, those youtube links lead you to other stuff like Storm by Tim Minchin (with text).2009-09-24t21:09:52 Z | TAGS: Atheism, Ethics, Faith, Mind, My Stuff, Philosophy, Psychology
I've updated my intro to my page on Religion so I'm posting it here for archival purposes:
What is religion? There are many different definitions of religion (EGs: Religion [W] or Religion [dictionary.com/...]). Let me try a few cheesey tricks to start defining religion. One easy trick would be to use free association to come up with a list religious keywords and their complement.
faith : reason
spiritual : psychological
supernatural : natural
superstition : real
intuition : experience
magical thinking : scientific method
mysticism : fact
sacret texts : experimentation
ritual : protocol
ceremony : civil action
dogma : chaos/freedom
myth : nonsense
moral : immoral
mortality : immortality
immortality : mortality
after life : death
community : individual
individual : community
creation : evolution
cosmology : the present
holy days : holidays
love : hate
God : Devil or nothing
Obviously it's an imperfect list for several reasons. Dualism isn't everything; People may come up with other opposites; Some things go on both sides; And so on. The list is merely an exercise to think about the topic.
With religion, there is not merely an epistemological issue of your knowledge of the nature of man and the universe, but a component that tells you and your community how to behave. However since the behavioural component is built upon the epistemological one, then it may be said that the epistemological encompasses the behavioural component. The epistemological component is the key.
Non-religious epistemology relies on:
- Logic and reasoning.
- Empirical evidence. Measurement, observation, and experimentation. Rigorously and openly applied, this is the scientific method.
- Intuition. Feelings and emotions. Inference without knowing how. This not only covers warm and fuzzy feelings but all satori, moments of insight and genius too. This might even be described as spiritual.
Religious epistemology relies on non-religious epistemology as well, but those non-religious knowledge is trumped by mystical/supernatural insights and citations. Religions have used all manner of strong psychological, cultural, aethetic, social, and poltical devices to make their "supernatural" as real as the natural. Religious practices often include the following:
- prayer; meditation; confessions; mantras;
- chanting; hymns; psalms; songs; dancing;
- sacrifice and burning: incense; smoking; food, drink; animals; plants; people;
- rituals; pilgrimages; gatherings; ceremonies;
- holidays; festivals; feasts;
- temples; churches; shrines;
- idols; prayer beads; icons;
A religion's "supernatural" aspects are clearly superstititious to those outside of the religion, but to those within the religion, their supernatural aspects are real. I personally do not believe in the supernatural, whether God or gods or demon or ghosts. However given the strong pressures that religions and their communities apply, I can empathise with those who believe. Humans are prone to religion and we love fiction. Voltair said "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him".
Here are is personal view on religion in brief:
- I am pragmatic and secular --not cynical or anti-religious.
- I believe in nature and science. I believe that we are biologically inclined to want to believe. I am a naturalist but I acknowledge emergent experiences, complex experiences, and unexplained experiences that may truthfully feel spiritual. I believe that individuals and groups are at different stages in their own personal spiritual and emotional journeys, so I am generally tolerant and respectful of where people are. I believe that we can benefit from exploring and comparing different religions --and that it is part of our rich human heritage to do so.
- I believe that there are cultural, and social and/or emotional benefits to committing to a non-secular religious system, but I also believe that humanity is very young and that we will have many faiths for a long time yet, thus it would be beneficial for people of different faiths to participate in a broader secular system. I believe that government should be neutral on religion and that religious convictions must be translated into secular and ethical terms when becoming policy.
- I believe that we are individuals and social animals with a sense of self-interests and expanding group-interests. Problems arise when people cannot see or do beyond the interests of themselves or their tribe and move on to the interests of the species and the world. I believe that people will tend to be behaviorally, psychologically, and socially "good".
- I was was born and raised a Catholic Christian, but I am only a nominal Catholic Christian. I believe that there are many who participate in their faith more for cultural, social, and/or emotional reasons than for literal mystical reasons.
- I am an Atheist. (Yes, my mom knows.) I am not evil or immoral. I'm a human being like everyone else.2009-10-16t18:15:14 Z | TAGS: Atheism, Books, Faith, Language, Literature, Text
God is not the Creator, claims academicGod is not the Creator, claims academic [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/6274502/God-is-not-the-Creator-claims-academic.html]
This makes sense:Prof Van Wolde, 54, who will present a thesis on the subject at Radboud University in The Netherlands where she studies, said she had re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia. She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb "bara", which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate". The first sentence should now read "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth".2009-10-17t14:13:13 Z | TAGS: Atheism, Faith, Images, Photos
Cherrypicking IllustratedCherrypicking Illustrated [http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/10/16/cherrypicking-illustrated/] [VIA: http://www.reddit.com/r/atheism/comments/9usne/old_testament_fail_man_tattoos_arm_with_leviticus/]
You can't tell from the context whether the person with the tatoo knows about the latter verse.
It's a tattoo reading “[Thou] shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman. It is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22″. Who else sees the problem here? Leviticus also forbids tattooing. In the very next chapter.
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28″
I also like the fellow mentioned in the Reddit thread:Someone at my university has a tattoo that is just a chapter and verse number -- when you look it up, it's the leviticus prohibition on tattooing. Clever.
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