Friday, December 15, 2006
It is Freud’s theory that so long as humanity experiences such an anxiety of helplessness, such a burdensome fear of death, the dark and the unknown so shall there be religion. I am certainly in agreement, however, I am of the opinion that there are a number of reasons that may incite religious belief and behavior beyond wish fulfilling.
Another theory, of which I am skeptical of and of which Freud later dealt with in the beginning of Civilization and Its Discontents, is that the religious impulse emanates from a particular feeling. A feeling which a friend of Freud’s called “a sensation of ‘eternity’, a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded – as it were, ‘oceanic’.” Freud’s friend went on to claim that this feeling was a subjective truth, it did not require faith to accept. However, it did not assure one of immortality, or any of the other illusions of religion, it merely brought forth the energy with which organized religion then buttressed such articles of faith to.
Freud first responds, as do I, that no such feeling is recognizable to him. He then provides a long and thorough explanation outlining an individuals’ development of a sense of ego, or “ego-feeling” as he phrased it, and the fact that such an ego is only a minute portion of the entire mental apparatus of the unconscious. He goes on explaining that an infant is not yet aware of its ego as distinguished from the external world and only through experience of sensations is such a distinction realized and made conscious. Meaning that, regarding sensations and feelings, the ego originally included everything, only later separating the external world from itself. Freud says “Our present ego-feeling is, therefore, only a shrunken residue of a much more inclusive – indeed, an all embracing – feeling which corresponded to a more intimate bond between the ego and the world about it.” The implication of this being that in some people such a primary ego-feeling may persist to a greater or lesser degree and, if so, it would exist along side the more distinct “demarcated ego-feeling of maturity,” the “ideational contents” of which would be identical to the feelings of limitlessness and of the ‘oceanic’ feeling thus accounting for the natural origins of such a religious impulse; an impulse Paul Kurtz has appropriately labeled “the transcendental temptation.”
Sunday, December 03, 2006
“Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.” – Erich Fromm“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” – Carl Jung
“Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is.” – Carl Rogers
As our species throughout history attests, humans have pondered the fundamental philosophical question regarding the meaning of life since the ability to write and most likely the development of conscious self-awareness and a higher cognitive ability even before.
For a great number of people this question poses as a serious obstacle, one seemingly insurmountable, and one which is usually resolved through the most vacuous, superfluous and inept means possible, religion.
The principle aim of life, as far as I am aware and in the most rudimentary form, is to survive to the fullest efficacy possible and to replicate ones own genetic lineage. However, beyond these simple tasks – or difficult if you rather - the meaning of life is open to interpretation, it is to be discovered and affirmed by the individual for the individual. In an objective sense the meaning of life is as I described first, in a more subjective sense the meaning of life is infinitely open to interpretation. I would hardly expect two individuals’ specific interpretations of what the meaning of life is to be identical.
As a secular humanist I find the meaning of life to be, in a general sense, the pursuit of life in abundance, happiness, pleasure and love. In a more distilled sense I find the meaning of life to comprise a number of categories such as psychological, biological, social, political, scientific and philosophical. It begins, as I see it, with oneself, through discovering who one really is, and affirming this one develops a healthy and strong psychological awareness of ones own self and is then ready to pursue the other categories. One must realize and then develop the best of their abilities, which consists of cultivating in ones own personality, strength, lucidity, intelligence, a yearning for knowledge, skepticism, empathy and, as Carl Rogers phrased it, “unconditional positive regard.”
Built upon this, the meaning of life is now concerned with social aspects. I take it as the meaning of life to work towards the remediation and reconciling of social ills and conflicts, to help create a peaceful, cohesive and tranquil social environment and world-state. To help others realize and attain their highest potential possible. The meaning of life, socio-politically speaking, is to affirm universal human rights and decency and to work towards creating a citadel of peace and beauty, in this life, globally. It is to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ideals of democracy, freedom and the open society. It is to work towards increasing educational standards, literacy and cultural enrichment.
Scientifically and philosophically, the meaning of life is to better understand it. It is to work towards a comprehensive description of the universe which we find ourselves in and the functioning thereof. With the growth of our scientific knowledge comes, inextricably bound, advances in virtually every aspect of our lives. Advances in scientific medicine such as antibiotics, vaccines, modern techniques of surgery, anesthesia, pharmacology and biogenetic engineering has tremendously improved our prospects for a happier, healthier, longer and more fulfilling life. Scientific research has and will continue to elucidate our knowledge of the universe and our place within it through such facets as astronomy, physics, biology, genetics, psychology, sociology, etc.
It is, to me, the meaning of life to pursue these ends. The meaning of life is to not only survive and replicate, but to derive pleasure and happiness while doing so. It is to love life in its abundance, to seek and work towards creating and instilling more abundance and to share this love and experience with others.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The indisputable fact remains that we all, as members of the human species, have far more qualities in common with one another than we could ever possibly have in difference. In point of fact it is usually the similarities which give birth to larger differences, a phenomenon which Freud termed “the narcissism of the minor differences.”
It is all well and good to argue and dispute differing opinions, beliefs, values and philosophies, however, it is of the utmost importance that while doing so one keeps well in mind that they share much more in common with their antagonist than they may be willing to admit. One would do well to acknowledge the differences where they exist and dwell on them only as long as is required, for there comes a time when affirming ones shared humanity takes top priority. I encourage debate and argument for birthed of these activities is an increase in knowledge and understanding, as Thomas Jefferson said: “Difference of opinion leads to inquiry, and inquiry to truth.” However, there seems to be - certainly in our current social climate - something missing; the most crucial aspect is absent. Even while arguing, or at least when one is concluding an argument, there should be a level of reconciliation, of mutual understanding and acceptance, of genuine empathy. This reconciliation, founded upon empathy and – as Carl Rogers phrased it “unconditional positive regard” – is completely absent in our social discourse.
Even when one is at extreme odds with another in debate it is wise to keep in mind the fact that there are, in fact, far more similarities than there are differences. There should be a concerted effort to keep not only this in mind, but, to remain as civil as possible and to end a heated debate with reconciliation rather than vitriolic animosity. We need to affirm our shared humanity, with this alone the social discourse – and overall environment - would benefit greatly.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Moral relativism is an absurd obfuscation of this reality not to mention absolutely hostile to a true moral calculus. Moral relativism is, essentially, the ideology that all forms of morality are the product of culture and of society, which they are, but further that there is no foundation for which to measure the justification thereof, hence all morality is equally viable. At the heart of this ideology is a rather obvious contradiction: the claim that all forms of morality are equally viable, that all forms of morality should be respected, this is not a relative but an absolute claim and one which certainly runs into trouble when a cultures morality consists of negating other forms of morality; for if all forms of morality are true and one form of morality claims that all other forms are untrue then a conundrum is created for the relativist. Furthermore moral relativism neglects the science of humanity, psychology, wherein we learn that there is a human nature characteristic of the human species. What I find most repulsive in moral relativism is the notion that because it is the custom of a specific culture to degrade and devalue their women and allow what is essentially rape that this is permissible because it is their agreed upon morality. These relativists are either ignorant of or hostile to the reality that all women, all human beings for that matter, respond to rape and degradation negatively, the effects of rape and degradation of human beings is equally nefarious across the human spectrum regardless of ones specific culture. Moral relativism is the product of a perverse philosophy, which, in many ways, compares to nihilism.
Worse than the moral relativist is the religious moral absolutist who has received a morality from an alleged supernatural source. With religion one usually finds morality stood on its head, one finds a false morality, immorality. What many religions do with morality is separate questions of morality from true questions of happiness or suffering, they present hysterically absurd falsifications of morality, many of which are utterly immoral. Within the bible, both old testament and new, it is a moral proposition, commanded by god, that homosexuality is an abomination and carries with it the penalty of death. This moral proposition is a clear falsification of morality, there is no discernable suffering, homosexuality does not harm other people, it does not cause others to suffer and despite what fundamentalists claim homosexuality does not destroy “natural” families. However this moral proposition does cause suffering, it causes and justifies the degradation of homosexuals, it goes even further, it calls for the mistreatment of homosexuals, it calls for immorality. Religious morality is replete with such falsifications, such immorality, within its set of moral propositions; what a euphemism, what a true blasphemy, it is to even use the term morality in such an instance.
Whenever you hear the name “god” mentioned within the same breath as morality rest assure it stands for either a vacuous and superfluous platitude or the name by which one justifies the perversion of a true moral calculus.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Viewing the story of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels as heavily influenced mythology is, essentially, the only legitimate understanding thereof. The historicity of Jesus can be debated and will likely be debated for years, however, there is absolutely no evidence suggesting that the accounts of the life and times of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels is anything other than a parsed together story, heavily influenced by the common mythology of the time and written with a concerted effort to align the story with the “prophecies” of the old testament.
As I said in my last post, Jesus allegedly died around the year 33 CE and Mark wrote the first gospel no earlier than 65 CE which leaves a three decade gap, in which the only documents in existence pertaining to Christianity are Paul’s writings. It is a very striking fact that in not one of Paul’s epistles does he make any mention of what we would consider the story of Jesus save for the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven. Paul makes no mention of the virgin birth, Mary, Bethlehem, John the Baptist, any of the miracles of Jesus – you would think that Paul would have mentioned a few of these alleged miracles in his attempt to convert new Christians – Pontius Pilot, any Jewish mob or any trial. I concede that these omissions do not imply, implicitly, that Paul was unaware of the story of Jesus as later portrayed by the NT gospels. However, these facts are suggestive and must not be overlooked.
In the three decade gap between the alleged death of Jesus and Mark’s writing of the first gospel the story of Jesus was kept alive and spread through oral tradition, a method which is exceedingly susceptible to convolution. It is very likely that while the story of Jesus was spreading it began to accumulate the characteristics of the common mythologies of the time. It is very likely that Paul either came before such an evolution in the story or was simply unaware of it. One must keep in mind that we are considering the first century and the archaic communication which is inherent therein. It is not a stretch of the imagination to conclude that the oral tradition of Christianity gave birth to a greatly exaggerated, added upon and altered story – the gospels were written between thirty and fifty years after the alleged death of Jesus, plenty of time for the evolution thereof – it is really almost impossible to believe that the oral tradition kept perfectly intact the entire account of the stories later relayed in the gospels, which differ amongst even themselves.
As I mentioned in my last post it is a very striking fact that Jesus, as portrayed in the gospels, shares twenty or so characteristics with the common heroic figure, mythic figures such as: Oedipus, Theseus, Romulus, Hercules, Perseus, Zeus, Zoroaster, Thor, Tammuz, Orpheus, Mithras, Krishna, Horus, Hermes, Dionysis, Baal, Attis, Adonis, etc. I have already indexed the shared characteristics and will avoid redundancy here.
Having illustrated the shared mythological characteristics I will now endeavor to bring to the fore the theological and symbolic similarities.
Mithraism was a pagan religion which viewed the mythical Mithras as the mediator between humanity and the unknowable god who created all of existence. Mithraic communities expressed fraternal and communal spirit, their creed insisted on moral conduct, demanded abstinence and self control and postulated a heaven and hell; they sanctified Sunday and December the 25, Yule, this date was also a day referred to as Saturnalia – a dedication to Saturn’s temple – and it is widely believed that this date was chosen as the day to celebrate the birth of Christ, by Pope Julius I, in order to make it easier to convert the Roman pagans, Jesus was allegedly born in September. In any case many of the rites and sayings in Mithraism are similar if not identical to the sayings later attributed to Jesus. The Madonna and baby cults share their relation with both the Tammuz and the Egyptian Isis and Horus. The Christian celebration of easter also shares its origins with the Tammuz and their god Ishtar – pronounced “easter” – which is why easter is replete with fertility symbology.
With Apollonius Christ, the theological similarity is virtually identical. He preached “we cannot hate our fellow man” he created miracles, healed the sick, was accused of sedition in Rome and his followers, after his death, claimed that he had ascended to heaven and came to them in spiritual form afterwards. In fact the theology of Apollonius was so similar to that of Christianity there are records of early Church fathers mentioning and arguing against Apollonius’ divinity, again, using the argument that Satan used Apollonius as a way to deceive:
"How is it that the talismans of Apollonius have power over certain members of creation, for they prevent, as we see, the fury of the waves, the violence of the winds, and the attacks of wild beasts. And whilst Our Lord's miracles are preserved by tradition alone, those of Apollonius are most numerous, and actually manifested in present facts, so as to lead astray all beholders?" – Justin Martyr, early Church father
Apollonians, those who were followers of Apollonius, believed in the immortality of the soul and that upon death they would ascend to heaven. In fact, there is debate on whether or not Jesus had been conflated with Apollonius due to the similarities.
There are also striking similarities between Christianity and Zoroastrianism, the later predating the former. Many scholars credit Zoroastrianism with influencing the eschatology, angelology and demonology of Judaism. Judaism, of course, then influencing Christianity and Islam:
“it was from this very creed of Zoroaster that the Jews derived all the angelology of their religion... the belief in a future state; of rewards and punishments, ... the soul's immortality, and the Last Judgment - all of them essential parts of the Zoroastrian scheme.” – from The Gnostics and Their Remains (King and Moore, 1887).
Zoroastrianism had abstract concepts of heaven and of hell, personal and final judgment and even contains the concept of a coming messiah-like figure referred to as the “Peshotan.”
In light of all of this, viewing the story of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels as heavily influenced and convoluted by the common mythology of the time appears to be the only legitimate and firm contention. It seems abundantly clear that the gospel stories of Jesus have been parsed together, influenced and convoluted by various myths and written with a concerted effort to align the story with the “prophecies” of the old testament.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
Jesus lived in the first three decades in the first century, allegedly dying somewhere along the year 33 CE, although there were groups of ancient Jews and Jewish Christians who believed that Jesus was killed a century before. The Gospels, beginning with Mark, were written after 70 CE That’s a four decade gap, the only information we have in the gap comes from Paul who claims that Jesus came to him and told him to spread the word. Paul wrote around eighty thousand words about Christianity, Paul’s documents represent, essentially, all we have with regards to the history of Christianity during this four decade gap. What’s further is that Paul was unaware of the “fact” that Jesus allegedly lived as a human on earth, he was unaware of the story of Mary, of Bethlehem, John the Baptist, any of the miracles of Jesus, Paul never quotes anything that Jesus allegedly said, Paul never mentioned the ministry of Jesus, Pontius Pilot, any Jewish mob, any trial; Paul was unaware of what we would consider the story of Jesus save for the last three events, events which Paul did not even place as having happened on earth. To Paul Jesus lived, died and ascended all within the confines of a mythical realm. I find it interesting, rather suggestive, that the only link we have between the time frame given for the life of Jesus and the appearance of the first gospels, Paul, never even believed that Jesus was a human being, he was actually unaware of the idea altogether.
When looking at the Gospels one must be aware of the fact that allegorical literature was very common at the time, many of the gospels – the apocryphal – were thrown out due to their being too unbelievable and based on folk lore stemming from a plethora of various other myths; there has been a concerted effort – the Jesuits being an example – of people actively attempting to demythologize the bible, trying to take away the folklore (such as the “virgin birth”).
The folklore inherent in Christianity was nothing new or original. Jesus shared some twenty odd characteristics with other mythical heroes, heroes such as Oedipus, Theseus, Romulus, Hercules, Perseus, Zeus, Zoroaster, Thor, Tammuz, Orpheus, Mithras, Krishna, Horus, Hermes, Dionysis, Baal, Attis, Adonis, etc. the shared characteristics being: the heroes mother is a royal virgin, stars appear at his birth, visited by Magi from the east, his father is a king, the circumstances of his conception are unusual, is reputed to be the son of a god, at birth there is an attempt by his father to kill him, but he is hidden away, is raised by foster parents in a foreign country, we are told nothing of his childhood, on reaching manhood he returns and goes to his future kingdom, after a victory over a king, a giant or a dragon, marries a princess, turns water into wine, heals the sick, performs miracles, becomes king, reigns uneventfully, proscribes laws, later losses favor with subjects, is driven from the throne of the city, meets with a mysterious death, death is often at the top of a hill, killed on a cross or a tree, his children if any do not succeed him, his body not buried, etc.
It is a staggering fact to note that Jesus shares the majority of these common hero characteristics with other heroic figures such as Oedipus, Theseus,
“When we say that Jesus Christ was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended to heaven, we propound nothing new or different from what you believe regarding those whom you call the sons of Jupiter.” – Justin Martyr, church father.
What’s even more is that many pagans, after being proselytized to by the early Church fathers, claimed that what the Christians were saying about Jesus had been what they claimed about Dionysis for years and they didn’t actually believe in such myths either anymore. To which the early Christian apologists would respond with the claim that the difference being this time, with Jesus, the story was true, for it was Satan who counterfeited in advance the other stories with the foreknowledge that this day would come and wished to subvert it.
“For when they say that Dionysus arose again and ascended to heaven, is it not evident the devil has imitated the prophecy?” – Justin Martyr, church father
This is clear evidence that the early church was well aware of the fact that their story, their mythology, was perfectly similar to others which came before and in response to this had to resort to claiming that these other similar mythologies were the work of the devil, a sorry argument if there ever was. It is important to keep in mind that the first celebration of easter was in 2400 BCE long before any alleged existence of Jesus.
For thousands of years humanity has been obsessed with blood sacrifice, it is no coincidence that the story of the crucifixion of Jesus gave Christians a suffering and tortured hero whose flesh they could eat and whose blood they could drink – this is the absolute height of religious sacrifice - and for all those who claim that modern Christians are no longer obsessed with blood sacrifice I submit to them that they watch The Passion of the Christ, the most bloody, gory, violent movie of Jesus ever made and also, far and away, the most popular; many Christians claim this movie is the most profound ever made and it is centered around nothing other than blood sacrifice.
In summation of all of this I find it more than fair and logical to question even the very idea that Jesus ever existed. It seems far more plausible to me that the story of Jesus, the Christian faith, is nothing more than a parsed together story, incorporating the common characteristics of a heroic mythology with a concerted effort to align it with the “prophecy” of the old testament, and nothing more. Thus is, the mythology of Jesus.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
There is never a shortage of individuals misquoting Marx in order to make it appear that he presented sentiments parallel to claiming that religion was nothing more than opium, the only function of which was to drug the masses and dull the mind. This is, of course, inaccurate. What Marx actually claimed, in his Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, was much deeper in its analysis and broader in its implication. He says in his introduction:
“Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people… The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness….The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo….Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and cull the living flower.”
Undoubtedly many have already become acquainted with a portion of this quote, that religion is the “opium of the people,” but many have likewise failed to actually understand what Marx meant by this. He does not mean by “opium of the people” that religion drugs the masses so as to dull the mind, but, rather, religion is the opium of the people in the sense that it is that which consoles and gives comfort to those facing impossible circumstances. Marx is stating that, through class struggle, religion is wholly dependent upon and is birthed by the material and economic realities which society faces. To Marx religion is the manifestation of a societal defense mechanism, not only the expression of societies suffering but of its protest against it and this suffering is caused by material and economic injustices, political connivances. He believes that by criticizing and abolishing religion one would be able to inculcate within society the foundation for political revolution, or, at least, its evolution.
Friday, August 25, 2006
I shall preface this essay by submitting the fact that the god I am speaking of is not the “totality of all existence” god, the vague pantheistic god of deist-like enlightened transcendentalists. I am not speaking of this god that exists in some vague realm but does not meddle in the affairs of human endeavor. I am explicitly speaking of the “watchmaker” god, the creationist god of Abraham. The god that is both a part of nature and above it, the god that creates miracles, heeds prayer, rewards and punishes and is enveloped in the affairs of human endeavor; more precisely, the god that is allegedly a “benevolent providence.”
It is a striking observation that the concept of a benevolent god who is concerned with the affairs of human endeavor is, in every way, contradictory with the reality of existence and the occurrences of everyday life. It is clearly not a benevolent entity that oversaw the savage killing of innocent human life, including many children, in hurricane Katrina. It cannot be a benevolent entity that not only allows but puts into motion such brutal violence and savage murder. Who, in their right mind, is able to reconcile a benevolent god that interjects itself in the midst of human activity with such “acts of god” consisting of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, mudslides, firestorms, plagues, birth defects, deadly viruses, etc.? Clearly this index of barbarism cannot be written off as the effects of gods gift of free will and the inherent iniquity of humanity, this is either evidence that god is a twisted sadist, that god doesn’t intervene in the affairs of humanity or that god simply doesn’t exist. If the concept of god is that of the “watchmaker” who concerns itself with the affairs of humanity then this god is so very clearly the ultimate sadist.
To believe in such a god requires the believer to be the ultimate masochist and as Freud so insightfully pointed out sadism and masochism are both intricately intertwined with repressed and/or distorted aggressive sexual urges and desires. Masochism, in short, is the manifestation of the ids, or the subconscious’s, repressed and distorted sexual instincts. I am by no means an orthodox Freudian, I believe much of the psychoanalytic theory regarding the foundational aspects of the libido, that libido is the foundational physiological substratum of human instinct and motivation, is incorrect and misguided but with regards to the sexual links between sadism and masochism psychoanalysts have a very strong case. It is not without significance to point out that many of these devout believers who conceptualize a “watchmaker” god who is concerned with the affairs of humanity and interjects itself into them are also, not so incidentally, the very same fundamentalists who believe that abstinence is the only correct moral position regarding sex before marriage, that sex is only to be used for procreation and that, essentially, sex is fundamentally filthy and sinful.
The god I have been speaking of is, without a doubt, the ultimate sadist and for the belief in such a god to exist it is a necessary requirement of the believer that they be the corresponding ultimate masochist.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Religious sensitivities raison d’etre is clearly a not so subtle attempt to prohibit the questioning and criticism of religious beliefs, dogma and practices. This illustrates that the individual evoking such a plea is already well aware of the insecurity inherent in their claims and practices, otherwise they would be more than willing to illustrate the evidence and reason for these items so that the questioner or critic would be able to understand the conviction in dispute and possibly even agree with it.
I am also not the least bit sympathetic to anyone who becomes offended when a cherished belief of theirs is questioned, criticized or repudiated. I understand very well that many people are unable to review their beliefs and hold to them in a dispassionate manner, this is no ones fault but their own, and furthermore many of these “sensitive” beliefs are not only offensive to others but dangerous. People would do well to arrive at their convictions through a systematic and dispassionate process by which they reviewed specific claims and adhered to them only when they are sufficiently supportable and furthermore they should not become emotionally involved with the convictions to a point that, when the convictions are questioned or criticized, they then feel personally denigrated.
I hold to many beliefs - as does everyone - and many of them are questioned and criticized on a daily basis and yet still others have been repudiated. Never have I felt that my personhood was under attack, except for the instances in which it was, I have never reacted in an overtly emotional manner and I have never pleaded for the cessation of questioning or criticism on behalf of sensitivity lest I become offended. Sometimes I am offended by an argument or a criticism sent my way but rather than ask for the cessation of that criticism I engage it and the majority of the time I and my antagonist reach an armistice or at least a better understanding of each others positions, this is only possible when tactics such as pleading for exemption on behalf of sensitivity are completely ignored. I take such questioning and criticism as the very process by which my convictions are emboldened and strengthened, it illustrates the errors of my beliefs and helps in their remediation; I take such criticism as an essential aspect foundational to my pursuit of knowledge and understanding and I am nothing less than grateful for it.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Life after death is inherently implausible, much like life before birth.
Our conscious existence, our self-reflexive insight, our private I - that is our inner self - is a reflective loop that stems from and is based in the physical brain. Our personality, our temperance, our characteristics, our loves, hates, desires, emotions and sense of self are all mechanisms of our physical brain. We are not “consciously” aware of ourselves at birth and only acquire our conscious awareness after our brain has attained a certain level of development and our neuro-pathways have made the necessary connections and web. When we die our physical brain dissolves and so does our consciousness, our inner-self (sometimes, mistakenly, referred to as our “soul”), so as far as an afterlife involving ones personality, conscious awareness, inner-self, etc., such a thing does not exist. It only exists in the minds of those who, not only hold a phobia of an impersonal and random nature that is not concerned with human endeavor, retain a neurotic fear of death (which is understandable to some degree).
This is one instance in which I am an orthodox Freudian. In Freud’s The Future of an Illusion he explained religion and the mythology of the afterlife inherent therein as the highest form of wish fulfillment, being the cheapest form of our emotions. I believe this to be the case with belief in the continuation of self after death with regards to any religious precept and notion, there simply is absolutely no evidence that ones self will continue after the dissolution of their physical being.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I have recently debated logic with several theists, a fundamental Calvinist and a Roman Catholic, and they both tried to argue that logic is an external manifestation and phenomena of god that we as cognitive entities merely tap into. I disagreed for I claim that logic is a product of the mind based on and influenced by the foundational laws and consistent mechanisms of material existence, or to put it plainly the "nature of reality." Logic is necessarily a product of the mind rather than a law of the universe itself and certainly not some external characteristic or attribute of any supernatural entity/force. These misguided and piously intoxicated theists claimed that logic itself was a law of the universe and I, again, disagreed. For I define logic as a mode or system of reasoning with formal principles, surely these formal principles are based on and influenced by the various laws of the universe but logic is not, itself, one of these laws as the theists were arguing. Logic is *not* a law of nature and it is not a force of material existence, without a mind that is. However the fundamental laws and truths upon which logic is built certainly are logical. They are logical because they are susceptible to our observations, reasoning, analysis and understanding and they are susceptible to these things because they are necessarily predictable and the universe is predictable because it is an amalgam of consistent material mechanisms, thus these laws and mechanisms are logically coherent. I would point out that this does not mean that logic itself is a law but that, via evolution of the mind, logic is a product of these laws. I also claim, contrary to the theists positions, that logic did not always exist but that it has evolved with numerous species and that it varies in intricacy. Logic evolved and came to fruition within the mind based on and because of the various laws of the material universe, not because it always existed and that any given species with a mind then taps into it. I claim that logic has not always existed, the foundation for which logic was reliant on to evolve and come to be surely always existed but not logic itself. I would point out that I view logic as evolutionary phenomena, much like life on earth.
My main point is that logic itself does not really govern anything. It is not a law or force unto itself, but a product of the various laws, forces and material mechanisms of the universe.
Logic, like mathematics, is a secondary product of the nature of reality not the nature of reality itself.
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Thanks to my-space.com I was just afforded the displeasure of reading a rather long and vainglorious affirmation of the insipid and shallow belief in a supernatural entity/force that was, in this case, referred to as *god*. It is my firm belief that such an affirmation, via my-space messaging no less, is a rather blatant display of theist-egoistic-insecurity. Yes, that seems to be a contradiction but so is every assertion and belief put forth by these individuals and so is every argument spent on behalf of such inane premises. I find that *egoistic-insecurity* covers the characteristic rather well actually; for the majority of these individuals, evangelicals and fundamentalists most especially, present themselves with egregious egoistic smugness and moral superiority but I always sense that deep within their essence there lies an insecurity and uncertainty that belies their false pretenses. Their sureness and composure seem to be nothing more than a weak attempt at hiding their true sense of uncertainty about the world and circumstances in which they live; an extreme form of self delusion and denial of the most important and relevant of issues – those of reality and existence.
I find it rather revealing that such individuals find solace and comfort in numbers. When ever you find that one is forced to resort to “consensus,” then one has nothing to back their argument with whatsoever. One is doing nothing more than pandering to the majority of individuals that “feel” or have “faith” in the very same, intellectually dishonest and inherently false, beliefs that they are straining so hard to vindicate and justify. I find such actions intellectually reprehensible, immoral and embarrassing.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
It seems both inevitable and irrational, with things such as my space, that humans focus so much on what Freud called “the narcissism of the small difference.”
I found it both odd and revealing that within the “religion” category there was both atheism and agnosticism, both of which are not religions. I also found it odd that the category was titled “religion” and not something more appropriate such as “worldview” or “metaphysics” for that would be the more inclusive and acceptable category. For what does it say of those that do not subscribe to religion and/or the notion of holding “religious” views when they must describe their “religion” and religious views in a one word response? This seems rather shallow and exclusive to me. Not to mention the plethora of religions that the category neglected to include in the first place.
I do not hold to a religious view of existence and I consider my worldview to be a euproxophy not religious, I hold to humanist principles and more succinctly with the secular humanist viewpoint. This worldview of secular humanism is not a religion and it is not accounted for within the category, which I feel is exclusive and too preoccupied with “the narcissism of the small difference.” Being that I am wholly concerned with humanist principles and that the majority of my views and beliefs align with secular humanism this also means that I am an atheist, which to me is a moot point being that it cannot be definitively proven either way at present time. I am hesitant to claim myself an atheist in the open public for numerous reasons, the largest being that atheism is not a coherent worldview or metaphysics, it is merely an epithet used to describe ones disbelief in supernatural entities and forces. I am also hesitant to claim that I am an atheist because the mere word “atheist” seems to be bound to immorality, perversion, heresy (which ironically translates to “choice”), foolishness, corruption and a seemingly endless slew of nefarious characteristics. I certainly wish that atheism did not carry the negative baggage that it does but two thousand years of dogmatically institutionalized castigation and defamation is certainly not easily quelled.
I do affirmatively consider myself an atheist rather than an agnostic and this is both intentional and designed. I find there to be insufficient evidence for any sort of supernatural entities and/or forces, not only that but I find sufficient evidence that these entities and/or forces are not needed when describing and understanding existence and that sometimes, maybe even the majority of the time, such notions actually impede and obstruct further progress in such understandings. I simply cannot ascribe to a belief that claims that there are forces, or a single force, that is both conscious and undetectable that “created” material existence and looks out for natural mechanisms in any way, shape or form. I reject the notion of god in all the various forms that it has comprised but some would like to say you must remain agnostic regarding god, for god may be the underlying totality of all existence that binds everything together, be that supernatural or not. My problem with that is that this seems to undermine the very definition of god, which necessarily consists of a supernatural entity/force and such supernatural definitions are those of which I reject. One must be careful to define and describe the god in question, for if one must remain agnostic regarding a Christian definition for the fact that one cannot demonstrate the falsehood of such a notion then one must also remain agnostic regarding the Greek and Roman gods, which one would likewise not be able to demonstrate the falsehood thereof. We are really all atheists I just do not make an exception for the monotheistic supernatural entity/force of Christianity. For Christians are surely atheists regarding Hindu gods and Zoroastrianism’s god, again, I merely reject them all equally.
Oh, what a tangent this “religion” category got me into.
I also had a hard time seriously answering the ethnicity category. For this category always illustrates the human instinct to relegate an individual into a racially discriminatory subset. I was forced to choose white/Caucasian which, again, seems both odd and exclusive. I find my “ethnicity” or “race” to be just as human as the next persons, I would much rather label myself as “human” rather than “white” or “Caucasian” both of which are fraudulent descriptions. White is not a color let alone a race and I also have no relation to the Caucasus and no belief in the outmoded ethnology that had produced the category. Should it not go without saying what “color” one is by their picture? Does it really matter what ones color is if indeed they haven’t a picture? If one is either “Asian” or “black” is that really a difference that is consequential? Are they not both humans retaining the very same genetic material? Again a prime example of what Freud called “the narcissism of the small difference.”
Thursday, March 09, 2006
I have been embroiled in numerous debates recently one of them regarding logic and the other the legalization of “illicit drugs”. I would like to post about the idea of legalization.
I, being a libertarian and a realist, believe that it is both unconstitutional and impractical to not only prohibit certain, discriminately selected, substances but to wage an all out war on them. It is unconstitutional to revoke the rights of private citizens in such a gratuitous, and oddly selective, manner. It creates, and has created, one of the world’s most heinous black markets in history ruled by gangs, mobs and terrorists.
The number of overdoses and health related toxic injuries greatly increases when you prohibit a specific drug forcing those that seek its use to attain it through the black market. Where there is a demand there is a supply and despite any effort to curb either the demand or the supply of certain drugs both steadily go on, if not increasing. When you relegate the supply of a drug that is in high demand to the clandestine and criminal elements you are effectively ensuring that the drugs offered are poorly produced and are of highly dangerous qualities. Drugs that are produced in a clandestine manner are replete with contaminant chemicals and toxic precursors that increase the drugs danger and the user’s health risks. Simply put drugs are far more dangerous when they are prohibited.
Some argue that legalizing and regulating illicit drugs would effectively send the use of them sky ward, I find that the opposite would be the likelier scenario. If one were to observe drug treatment center statistics and trends one would undoubtedly notice that the majority of addicts and abusers that occupy such centers are those that use and abuse illegal drugs. The majority of individuals that inhabit treatment centers and rehabs are there for illicit street drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroine, phencyclidine (PCP), etc. These are the drugs that people are supposedly doing less of because of prohibition. Then you have the individuals at treatment centers, at a far lower rate, for alcohol and prescription drugs (such as oxycontin, valium, vicodin, xanax, etc.). The drugs that are legal and regulated by the federal government have fewer addicts and abusers.
Our current jail systems are overwhelmed and under funded for the prohibition of illicit drugs. Many of the jails are full of individuals convicted of a drug related crime (mainly simple possession). Then there are the outstanding numbers of felons that occupy jails for heinous crimes such as grand theft and homicide that are drug related. Making it a crime to sell, buy or posses certain drugs greatly increases crime. If a cocaine abuser could readily purchase cocaine, that has been produced cleanly and regulated safely, they would not ever face the need of reverting to crime to fuel and pay for their drug.
Some also claim that the strain that legalizing certain drugs would have on healthcare and the taxpayers would be too great. The current war on drugs costs taxpayers an annual 40 billion dollars. This sum of money, no longer being thrown away in the name of a war on drugs, could easily be relocated towards programs such as healthcare. Not to mention the enormous revenue that would be produced by selling and taxing the drugs.
Also certain illicit drugs that so many people are appalled by and would never like to see legalized are already sold, bought and possessed for medical purposes. Cannabis sativa being the most commonly known case, however, far fewer people are aware that methamphetamine is being used for legitimate and legal medical purposes. Methamphetamine is a schedule II substance which means that while it is illegal within the United States to buy, sell or posses this drug without a DEA license or prescription that it is legal to buy, sell and/or posses this drug with a DEA license or prescription. Methamphetamine is currently being used by Americans all over this country for legitimate medical purposes and the regulation and distribution has not been a problem. The pharmaceutical name for methamphetamine is Desoxyn. Granted the regulation and distribution for medical drugs is different but not so entirely different for there to not be a logical inference.
In summation it is unconstitutional to deem certain substances illegal (and to erode private citizen’s constitutional rights and liberties) and the war on drugs that we now have the displeasure of waging is one of the most costly and damaging policies of our government. Prohibiting substances (as the prohibition of alcohol so readily proves) simply creates far more problems than it resolves.
I don’t believe that smoking cannabis sativa or opium on a regular basis is a wise decision but neither is smoking nicotine or drinking alcohol and it is my firm belief that all of these substances should be legal and that those that wish to use them should be able to do so. Only a country that is unconcerned with true freedom and liberty would make such substances illegal.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
To me secular humanism is the challenge to bring about the best of your abilities, to actualize your potential and develop your potential to the highest significance possible. It is sharing the love of life with others, enjoying the company of acquaintances and loved ones while having the pleasure to do so.
It is the realization that we are all members of the immense human race; that we all share a common humanity, this being enough reason to support and protect one another. It is defending human rights when violated or in jeopardy, whether defending black culture from racist white supremacy, championing women’s equality in a sexist ‘mans world’, fighting for homosexuals equality in an ever volatile homophobic environment, to simply upholding common civil liberties gone amiss. It is making the most out of what you are provided with, it is making the most of the wonderful opportunity that you are afforded by having life. It is the knowledge that life is more precious and delicate than we sometimes believe it to be.
To me being a secular humanist means understanding that there is no spiritual realm or supernatural existence, and that when you die there is no continuation of yourself in any form. It is the knowledge that you are a physical body and that your conscious awareness and personality are extensions of this physical body through the highly complex and advanced human brain, that when you die this organ will deteriorate and dissolve hence your conscious and personal existence will cease to exist. This knowledge, to me, means that I must make the most of my life now while I have the fantastic opportunity to do so. I shouldn’t waste my time and opportunity, I shouldn’t look towards the sky and hope for better days, I must make the better days come about for myself with my own ability and power. When negative situations happen or obstacles are faced, I should not pray to a supernatural force that does not exist and sit back hoping this force will intervene on my behalf, rather I should actively go out and attempt to rectify and improve the negative situations or overcome the difficult obstacles with my own human ability.
To me being a secular humanist means making the most of life here and now, being the best person that I am capable of becoming, helping others strive to be the best that they can be; working to help create a citadel of peace and beauty upon this earth, striving to help people and life in general live a more satisfying and tranquil life. To me secular humanism is everything that I know, value, respect, cherish, and love; it is a way of viewing life while at the same time engaging in life in the most practical and positive way possible. To me secular humanism is championing human ability, reason, and compassion; secular humanism is saying yes to life.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
A fellow atheist asked a group of us what our views were regarding gun control, I was the first to respond stating that I do not have a solid stance and that the issue is far too complex to say “no guns” or “guns for everyone.” But as the dialogue continued and as I read along from the sidelines I witnessed the discussion become increasingly ideological and I began to see that I did, in fact, have some solid views regarding the issue. The dialogue became a debate largely between an individual that, though passive, owned a gun and claimed it was merely for protection. There were then two dissenting voices claiming that owing a gun for any reason let alone for protection was extravagantly unjust. Both sides had begun to regress into fairly indefensible and irrationally extrapolated hyperbole. The discussion had ceased being rational and was now becoming just as diabolically ideological as the religious extremists around the globe.
Here is a quote from one of the anti-gun advocates: “Then why not carry a conceal weapon wherever you go? Why draw that line? Do you have a bomb shelter? Do you wear a mask to protect yourself from airborne toxins?” – Obviously going too far. Owning a firearm for protection against armed assailants and intruders seems fairly different from owning either a bomb shelter or an airborne toxin mask. This quote is but one minor example of the rhetoric that was being waged from both sides, it had also become somewhat emotionally charged.
I then decided that I did have something to offer the discussion. This is what I had to say:
“I am most likely never going to own a firearm and I don’t really see the necessity for an individual to own one but those that are going to argue into the abyss of pettiness and insignificance that one should never own a weapon for any reason seems both trivial and frivolous. If you do not like guns, that is great do not buy and own a gun but it seems disturbingly anti-American and anti-libertarian to infringe upon ones individual and private life in such a gratuitous way that is not adequately justified. It seems morally condescending and is analogous to the complaisant patronizing that the “morally superior” religious extremists continually engage in.
I do not care for destructive machines of death, which firearms most certainly are, but I also see the necessity of them in the military and police forces and I surely believe that it would be unconstitutional to revoke the rights of an individual due to the moral outcry and contemptuous ideology of either the religious right or the utopian left.”
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
This is what I said:
Science has provided humanity with such ‘natural miracles’ as modern medicine and all of its discoveries such as antibiotics, the development of vaccines, modern techniques of surgery, anesthesia, pharmacology, and biogenetic engineering. I could go on and on about the great discoveries, inventions, and innovations that are the direct product of science but that would encapsulate far too much space. Science has improved and impacted virtually every aspect of our lives and not even the pious Amish are able to avoid modern science and technology. The religious zealots that decry evolutionary science and modern psychology surely wouldn’t dare decry the innovations produced from such sciences. Through evolutionary biology we have developed advanced sciences such as genetics, phylogeny, and increased our knowledge within virtually all other sciences such as molecular biology and theoretical psychology. Evolution has extensive support for it through most of the various sciences; there are volumes upon volumes of scientific research and testing that support evolution through sciences such as biology, paleontology, archeology, geophysics, geology, theoretical psychology, genetics, planetary science, and phylogeny to simply name a few. To decry either evolutionary science or psychology is to illustrate ones inherent ignorance and inability to reconcile ones ‘faith’ with that of science (how dejected).Now in light of all that science has provided humanity what has religion given us? The answer to this will undoubtedly vary from person to person but the best they can assert is that religion provides comfort and the hope that life will be better in a suspected afterlife. The real answer is that the best religion has given us is a blind and misguided sense of the world, the worst it has given us is continual bloody “holy wars” as in crusades, pogroms, and jihads; it has fostered hate, bias, ignorance, slavery, murder, genocide, tyranny, poverty, and evil (to use religious language). Religion has effectively improved absolutely nothing where as science has and will continue to do so despite religious opposition.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
One individual claimed that they have always wanted to burn down a church and now they see how easy it is, they claimed that the news was "fucking awesome" and that all churches should be burned down. In response I said:
While I am completely unimpresed by religious belief and find what goes on inside a church to be lame I completely denounce arson. Burning down Churches is a very destructive and negative thing to do. If it turns out to be atheists then we have all been tainted by the morose actions of one or a few individuals. Who ever is going around and burning down any building for any reason is a criminal and an idiot, I really hope that this cannot be linked to atheism.
There was then discussion about violence and there were individuals claiming that they enjoyed violence, that it was necessary and that they would not hesitate to be violent. I then said:
I have found no reason to resort to violence and I find no reason for anyone else to do so. The only situation that I could foresee myself using violence would be if I, or those in my company, came under violent attack and physical force was needed to counter the situation.
Violence is a manifestation of our primal instincts and animal urges that should be overcome. We are afforded a highly advanced conscious awareness that is unequaled within the animal kingdom, we would do well to actualize our potential and harness our characteristics to the fullest extent possible. Violence is a characteristic of our lesser evolved ancestors and those that embrace such depravity have not yet fully grown into the human race. Humans have the ability to abolish needless and senseless violence and when one does not do their best to rid themselves of such animal behavior they endanger everyone.
To me violence is a form of irrational ignorance and I deplore both irrationality and ignorance so it is natural that I oppose violence. Being a secular humanist I believe that violence is never the answer and that one should use the power of their mind to resolve conflicts. We cannot afford to accept mindless violence and aggressive animal behavior.
While we deplore the violent Muslim reaction to the Muhamad cartoons we must also deplore the burning of churches. We must oppose not only religious violence but violence against religion, both are unacceptable. We need to promote peace, acceptance, tolerance and intelligence; only then will we know anything of true freedom.
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov
“You never need an argument against the use of violence, you need an argument for it.” – Noam Chomsky
“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – Mohandas Gandhi
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein
“Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
“Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.” – Victor Hugo
“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” – John Lennon
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
All religion, despite its apparent passiveness, is just as capable of extremism, hatred, intolerance and violence as any other religion. Many people believe that religions such as Hinduism are exempt from this extremism and I have been doing some work illustrating the falsehood behind these notions. I have found some very depressing evidence of religious extremism all over the globe and from every religion imaginable. Hinduism is apparently more than capable of producing its own form of extremism; I read a case of some extreme Hindus killing another Hindu for having killed a cow and then stating that the life of a holy cow is worth more than that of a Hindu and then sited quotes from Hindu religious texts. Hinduism is also built upon a very decrepit caste system and there is unbelievable chauvinism within the religion. I just wanted to throw Hinduism into the mix for a change so here is a good article I found, it’s a little old but sadly there is not much coverage of Hindu extremism in the media, which is very biased and potentially dangerous. The article is from The Washington Times:
(If the above link does not work use this one: http://hinduextremism.blogspot.com/)
Friday, January 20, 2006
I said that prayer is an example of weakness and helplessness. It is the ultimate example of beggary, wanting something for nothing. It illustrates some of the worst characteristics of human nature and provides evidence for B.F Skinners learned helplessness theory.
I then asked what the use of praying is when one believes that god has a plan for them. For if one prays for something within god’s plan then that something will happen regardless of prayer, conversely if one where to pray for something that is not included within god’s plan then that something will not happen regardless of prayer also, so either way prayer is ineffectual and useless. My comments created a ripple of outrage and spawned several other religious blogs to create posts about prayer. Ironically no one even attempted to answer the question of the futility of prayer at all. They merely asserted that not everyone prayed for “presents” and selfish reasons, they said that some pray for strength and health. This was my point to begin with and I find it absurd for them to imply that I only thought people prayed for material gifts. If one is praying for good health then that would be just as good an example of beggary and selfishness as is praying for a new car. Rather than eat healthy, exercise, and live a healthy lifestyle one is begging a supernatural force to intervene and create these results for them – weakness, helplessness, and selfish beggary.