Archives for posts with tag: atheism

Monotheists insist there’s only one.

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.”

– And why would this be of any interest?
– All current civilizations are off-springs of an Weltanschauung built on ‘monotheism’, aren’t they?
– Really?!? How about India? China? The Buddhist countries?
– Have you noticed the scare quotes? In my book, Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism are all forms of monotheism. Atheism also qualifies as such.
– ?!?
– I’ll make that point a little later.

Then, if monotheists insist there’s only one God, which one of them is the ‘real McCoy’?

“The real McCoy” was the inventor Elijah McCoy, born in Canada in 1844. He had many different inventions including an ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Other companies copied his devices, but these never worked as well as Elijah’s so people would say, “I want a… , and make sure it’s a real McCoy.”

When humans had first became conscious, as in aware of their own frailty, they needed a way to assuage their new acquired scares:
‘What would happen if the Sun will not come up tomorrow morning? If spring will never come back? If Mother Deer will not allow me to hunt another of her children?’Mother
So they started to raise prayers towards the Sun God. And towards other various agents held responsible with diverse aspects of human existence. Nowadays known as ‘totemic figures’.
Please note that each totemic figure was simultaneously responsible for one aspect of the human existence and the ‘founding father’ of a certain group of people.

After the advent of agriculture had transformed everything – including human social arrangements, things dully changed.
Agriculture gave birth to private property. Individuals needed to know which was their land and who owned the harvest. Otherwise, why bother?
Private property needs to be protected. Which demands a certain social structure. A hierarchy of social roles.

Around the Mediterranean Sea – due to geographic conditions, the ‘top brass’ were never that far removed from the ‘bottom’ as to make them ‘impervious’ to the social reality. Hence the hierarchy of Gods. Belonging to successive generations. Very similar to the succession of the dynasties which ruled the ‘land under the sky’.
At the opposite end of the Euro-Asian continent, were the emperor was further removed from the vulgus, things took a different path. Since no communication was any longer possible – between the ordinary people and the rulers/gods, gods and rulers were melted into one. Confucianism mandated that people cherish their ‘elders’.
Meanwhile Buddhism made away altogether with gods. And rulers.
The most interesting situation had evolved in India. Due to the high density of population – coupled with the diversity of languages/subcultures, the local leaders continued to be in touch with the general population while the highers up were equally insulated as their Chinese equivalents. Hence the survival of the plethora of Indian gods coupled with the advent of karma. The concept of individual responsibility for ones own fate.

The individuals’ responsibility for their own fates…
This being the common place between all ‘monotheistic’ religions. The way I see it, anyway. All three ‘sisters’ relying on the Holy Book, Hinduism, Confucianism, Buddhism… Atheism…

So, then again, how many Gods are out there?

Or, more likely, how many images of the same God – a.k.a. ‘reality’, have we, humans, carved out? Out of the before mentioned reality?
How many faces of the single reality available have we been able to identify? According to the prevalent local circumstances?

And how much more time do we need? To understand that we live under the same umbrella? According to the same set of broad rules?
Which makes us all members of the same family?
Children of the same God?

105 Pastors Wrote a Letter To Keep Yoga Out of Ohio Schools. They Succeeded.
By Terry Firma

The endorsement of yoga is a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment clause, which forbids government from picking religious winners and losers and enforcing its choice.

Based on my own experience, I consider transcendental meditation, with its veneration of the Maharashi Mahesh Yogi, uncomfortably close to a (half-baked) religion. Yoga, not so much, but opinion on that score is divided. You don’t have to be an angsty Jesus fan to concede that, depending on which yoga precepts are taught, its practice (derived from the Vedic / Hindu tradition) can veer into spiritual and religious territory. For consistency’s sake, it might be a good idea for atheists and agnostics to make common cause with the pastors (difficult though that may be!), and to err on the side of preferring that yoga instruction and public schools remain separate.

The first quote comes from the letter sent by the 105 pastors to the school districts in Ohio.
The second expresses Terry Firma’s own thoughts. Terry Firma being the author of the article…

Until reading his opinion I was convinced nobody else but those 105 pastors actually believed yoga could be considered a religion. Not in the First Amendment’s sense, anyway.

Here being the problem. A huge one.
By enlarging the definition of religion to encompass yoga – which is basically a practice, you end up with a wide enough definition to ‘engulf’ many other things. Science, and atheism, included.

Which, at some point, will be bundled with the items banned from being studied in schools.

What’s going on here?
Nothing much.
This is how ‘being rational’ works. You marshal all the resources you can identify towards reaching your goal.
Can the First Amendment be ‘helpful’ towards what ever I have in mind?
Does it mean that I’m going to actually weaponize it?

So what, if I’ll get a step closer to my target?

Have you considered all the consequences?

God thanks

I recently shared this meme, originally posted on FB by Black Atheists.

The broad spectrum of the commentaries made on this subject enticed me to elaborate on it.

There are people who blow people up under religious pretenses and people who blow people up under their own ‘rationale’.

This meme can be interpreted as God praising those who do not use his name when committing heinous crimes.

Who do not misinterpret religious teachings to fit their callously narrow goals.
Who do not make up self-serving nonsense simply because they have enough sleigh of mind and an audience who, for various reasons, is willing to believe anything that might provide some psychological comfort.
Who do not use religious pretexts when horribly mistreating others.

And don’t get me wrong. God doesn’t praise them for what they’re doing – there is nothing to be praised there.

He praises them for what they are not doing.

Using false pretenses, that is.

20090421-ceci-nest-pas-une-pipe-rene-magritte

As a child I was introduced to the chicken and egg paradox by my grandmother – a very wise woman, despite (because?!?) the fact that she had very little formal education.

As I grew up I found out that even the adults are passionate about it. Just Google it if you don’t believe me. Last time I checked the search engine had come up with 26 million (26 000 000 000) entries….

Then I was introduced to a slightly more interesting version of it.
Who is responsible for what is going on around us.
“Who created the World”, that is.

Apparently we have three three camps.

The theists, of various denominations – some of whom would cut each-other’s throats attempting to convince the ‘others’ that their God is the true one, believe that an outside agent is wholly responsible for the ‘Big-Bang’ and all its consequences. Or, at least, for ‘jump-starting’ the process.
The atheists, some of whom are ‘rabid’ enough to be as obnoxious as some of the theists, who blame it all on Lady Luck.
And the agnostics, like myself, who cannot make their minds one way or another.

Now, and I hope you won’t mind, I’m going to enumerate some facts.

  • We, the humans, are the ones who came up with the Big-Bang theory.
    Which is nice. It offers a generous canvas on which we might eventually thread a lot of ‘science’, but doesn’t, in any way, shape or form, offer even the slightest opportunity for the most imaginative amongst us to propose the flimsiest hypothesis about what started the whole process.
    Hence those of us who follow a far longer tradition feel free to consider that a Divine interference is the sole rational explanation. For everything that hasn’t yet a ‘scientifically proven’  one. As if science ever offered us a definitive answer to anything…
  • The Big Bang Theory was initially devised by a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, as yet another attempt to understand God’s ways.
  • No matter what the various prophets and religious teachers have told us, all books – including the ‘holy’ ones – have been written by people. They might have been inspired by (a ?!?) God, there is no way of telling what happened in the minds of the writers, but all those books have been written by human hands.
  • We, the humans, are the ones who consider this problem to be a very important one.

So important, in fact, that even a newspaper otherwise busy with economic and political issues occasionally looks (up ?!?) at it.

In its Christmas Day edition the Wall Street Journal published “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God” by Eric Metaxas.
Basically he author tells us the story of how Sagan started the hunt for ‘Extraterrestrial Intelligence’ and how the seemingly simple task ended up in a cul-de-sac.
While Good Old Carl thought “that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star” in time “our knowledge of the universe increased” and “it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed”.
So many in fact that some of us, Eric Metaxas included, now believe that “Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here”.

In this context I’d like to bring to your attention the words uttered by Lord Kelvin in 1895 – by that time already elected president of the Royal Society: “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”

“Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about us existing here.”

Do you see the pattern?

The usual claptrap, because something can’t be explained, it must be God.” (Mark Baxter’s comment on my FB wall) Or outright impossible, I might add, following Lord Kelvin’s example.

In other words ‘if WE cannot figure it out then it either doesn’t exist or has been made by God’.

But who made ‘God’ in the first place? And why?

Are we even aware that what we call ‘God’ is nothing but an image?
I’m not going to delve far into such intricacies like reminding you that no Orthodox Jew would ever pronounce the ‘true’ name of God but this is a powerful indication that our Elders were aware of the difference between reality and our ability to figure it out.

So why do we keep making this mistake? Why do we still try to ‘invent’ an ‘outside agent’ whenever we don’t have enough information about how something came to be?

That outside agent might very well exist, of course. Someplace, ‘out there’…. Or not. For all we know some things might happen just by pure chance. However improbable that might seem. To us!

We cannot determine, as of now at least, either way.

Then why insist? Any way?

Some of you will tell me, quite appropriately,  that ‘believing’ has brought us where we are now.
That ‘faith’ has guided us through the dark nights when we would have otherwise lost our hope. That following the ‘ten commandments’ has kept us from killing each-other much more ‘passionately’  than we’ve done it.

But now that we’ve understood what religion has done good for us, what’s keeping us from behaving ‘as if’?
Without ‘God’, or whatever name you want to use for the reality that harbors us at its bosom, having to ‘strike’ us down from time to time?

 

 

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