Posted: December 24th, 2011 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
I love this time of year. I wallow in my memories of wonderful Christmases past, of Alastair Sim in “A Christmas Carol” every Christmas Eve, of the lights and the carols and, yes, even the midnight mass that I don’t attend any more. But I also now recognize that this is a secular celebration, and that Jesus is NOT the reason for the season. One can endorse peace on earth and good will toward humanity without buying into the cults. Now Greta Christina has written an answer to that ancient drivel “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus“. It’s about time.
What’s wrong with Greta’s response to Virginia? Why wasn’t something like that written in answer to the original question, instead of feel good prevarication? We can keep all the magic, but admit that Santa is just a corporate spokesperson, like a sports star endorsing a product. Santa represents our generosity toward each other, especially toward children. Santa is your mother or father, Virginia, and caring adults all over the world. And that’s the only way he exists.
And now that this is out of the way: I hope you enjoy this holiday season. Don’t drink (too much). Don’t drink and drive. Live. Love. Prosper in the New Year. Merry Christmas.
Posted: December 16th, 2011 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: freedom of speech and rule of law, Opposing bigotry, separation of church and state, The Conviction That God is a Fiction | No Comments »
Christopher Hitchens is dead. One of the great unapologists of our age is now silent. But what a legacy he has left behind. With what courage he spoke, taking on every sacred cow from Kissinger to Mother Teresa. I loved the man for his anger, his outrage, and his unrestrained denunciation of stupidity. I also loved him for the fearless way he faced his death, admitting the possibility that in the final moments his malfunctioning brain might endorse religion, but….
“The entity making such a remark might be a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain,” he told The Times in August 2010. “I can’t guarantee that such an entity wouldn’t make such a ridiculous remark, but no one recognizable as myself would ever make such a remark.”.
I admired the way he smiled at the fundies who said they would pray for him, telling them essentially go ahead if you want to waste your time that way.
And now he’s gone. It will be a long long time before he’s forgotten.
Christopher Hitchens is dead. Now it’s up to us.
Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: separation of church and state, The Conviction That God is a Fiction, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Short answer, sure. Why not? Of course it scares me, the thought of somebody who believes Mormon dogma having his finger on the button for nuclear weapons, or any other kind of globally dangerous actions. So I’d be fighting the gag reflex in the polling station, but I’d still be judging the candidate on his record and not on his beliefs.
But really, do you want a Moron in charge? Let’s look at the basic beliefs of the Mormons.
1. Natives of North America as the lost tribes of Israel. Supporting evidence for this – absolutely zero. None. Counter evidence, overwhelming.
2. Joseph Smith found gold tablets written in “Reformed Egyptian” and these told him the whole story. But he lost them. That’s okay, because he translated them first. How? After all, he didn’t speak Egyptian, reformed or otherwise. Well, you see, he had these magical stones that he could put in his hat and they did the heavy lifting for him. Evidence that this is true – oh please. Let’s not be silly.
3. Black people are the sons of Cain. If they are really good, they will turn white when they get to heaven.
4. Magic underwear will protect you from evil.
The list goes on and on.
I don’t know about you, but when I look at an organization, at the basic foundation of an organization, and I find one implausible, egregiously stupid belief, that’s enough for me. I don’t have to look any further. It doesn’t take a whole bunch of nonsense to convince me that the whole organization if full of gullible idiots. Do you want one of those gullible idiots running the most powerful country in the world. Not me.
Unfortunately there is a problem. We want the right to believe any damn fool thing we want to believe. We want governments with no means test for religion. Right now America has a means test. You have to profess a belief in God or you have the chance of a snowball in Florida of getting elected. So whoever gets elected is going to publicly claim to hold at least one egregiously silly belief. Does it really matter what the dogma around that belief happens to be? Sadly it doesn’t.
Catholic beliefs? Transubstantiation? Cannibalism? Virgin births? Zombie savior? Talking snakes?
Or any other branch of Christianity, Muslimity, Astrology, Homeopathy, or New Age Woo. What’s the difference? You’re going to have an idiot in charge no matter who gets your vote. Unless he’s only pretending to believe. Unless he’s a liar. That’s my only hope. That America will elect a liar, and not a moron.
Actually, what I’m hoping for is a second term for Obama. The first American president since Jimmy Carter that I’ve actually liked.
Posted: December 14th, 2011 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: The Conviction That God is a Fiction, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Mark sent me a comment about another post, as an email not as a comment on this site. At the bottom of his email was this message:
Thought for the day:
Jean Paul Sartre, the foremost 20th century hard line Atheist said ultimately:
“I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God”
Sartre said this? Really? Or are we just taking the word of a religious friend who really wanted Sartre to say this.
I think I had heard this about Sartre. It’s very common for the religious to claim that a lifelong “hard line Atheist” had a deathbed conversion. Sort of a “Ha ha, see. You all cave in eventually.” Usually such claims also instantly elevate that convert to “the foremost 20th century hard line atheist” position, whether they were or not. I want my death bed to have 24 hour video surveillance, so that no lying Christian can claim I converted. Which does not deny the possibility that I might convert. I think of religion as a result of a brain malfunction. When one is dying, it would not be surprising to have a malfunctioning brain.
If we think of religiousness as something that has been hard wired into our brains by evolution, for a lot of very good reasons, it doesn’t seem strange that a brain on the edge of death would suddenly profess to believe in the existence of God. That has nothing to do with reality. If, on my deathbed, I suddenly call out that I see Jesus and he’s coming for me, please take it for what it is worth. Diddly squat.
Sartre was also a Marxist. We can see how well that philosophy is doing these days. So as an authority on whether or not there is a God, I don’t think he has any relevance. Not anymore.
Here’s a theist view of Sartre. It’s quite interesting, because the writer seems to actually get most of what Sartre was saying. But his arguments in favour of the existence of God all come down to the argument to consequences, i.e. if there is no God then there is no love and no meaning to life. I’ve never been able to see this connection. I accept that the universe has no meaning or purpose, in human terms. Why should it? This doesn’t mean that my life doesn’t have meaning or purpose. But it’s only meaningful and purposeful to me. I mean nothing to the universe.
And this is my big complaint with religion. It tries to make us special. It tries to put humanity in the central position of reality. This whole show is really all about us, because we were made in the image of God for His special purposes. How likely does this sound to you when looked at objectively? But death is scary. Death makes us hope for something more, like an afterlife. A continuation of what we are. Again, like the argument to consequences, having a hope and a desire to believe says nothing about reality.
I had a thought some time ago. I’ve been dead before. In fact, I was dead for billions of years before I was born, and that’s the condition I will return to. It didn’t bother me to be dead. I’m sure it won’t bother me when I’m dead again. (I thought this was original to me, and it was, but I’ve learned recently that Mark Twain said the same thing. Figures.) It’s only the transition that worries me. As Woody Allen said, I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.
Posted: December 8th, 2011 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: science and technology, separation of church and state, sexuality, Uncategorized | No Comments »
What’s with the outrage over Kathleen Sebelius , secretary of Health and Human Services, ignoring the scientists, sucking up to the Catholic church and the right to lifers, and overruling the recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration to make Plan B, the “morning after pill”, available over the counter to anybody who might want and need it. Why the outcry? Isn’t this just the way our society works? Don’t we own our own children? Aren’t we allowed to chop bits off them for whatever twisted reason we may decide is a good one? Uh…. Oh, no. That’s only if they are baby boys. But… but if they are sneaking around having sex behind our backs can’t we make sure it gets them “in trouble”. Isn’t that what they deserve. We’re talking about our potential grand kids here.
Okay, I’m going to drop the sarcasm now and just admit to being totally baffled by this. If the argument that having these pills available over the counter, without a prescription, would be sending a message that sex is permissible, isn’t this locking the barn after the horse has galloped away? If a girl wants these pills, don’t you think it’s a bit late to suggest that she might listen to any message from a parent. Wake up, folks. She’s having sex. Do you want her to get pregnant or not?
I feel fortunate that I’m no longer in a demographic that is directly affected by this kind of government interference with our freedom of choice. But it is rather amazing that the Republicans and the Teabaggers will scream about government interference when it comes to taking away their assault rifles or regulating their predatory business practices, yet these same people applaud when the government steps in and takes away their daughter’s choice to avoid being pregnant. I guess government interference is only a bad thing when they interfere with you, not with anybody else. It truly is a baffling and ironic world.
I always wonder how much the doctor lobby influences this kind of decision. They are the ones who make the money by signing a prescription. But the article does say that “The American Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics have endorsed over-the-counter access to emergency contraception. “, so I guess my naturally suspicious mind is off base on this one.
The only influence I can see here is the religious faction, sticking their nose in everybody’s business as usual. When will America tell them to piss off? If a girl is old enough to get pregnant, she’s old enough to make up her own mind about contraception. She isn’t sick. She doesn’t need a doctor. And if she didn’t have her parents’ permission to lie down with her lover, she doesn’t need their permission to protect herself.
Posted: December 6th, 2011 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: freedom of speech and rule of law, How Weird is our Culture, The Conviction That God is a Fiction, Uncategorized | No Comments »
You may have heard about the Ohio company that suddenly decided we aren’t allowed to say there is no God. Greta Christina published their email address, with an invitation to tell them what we think. Here’s my response. It’s far more polite than I’m feeling.
Maura Siegenthaler, LIND vice-president
Dear Maura Siegenthaler:
I’m rather shocked that you think the statement “There is no God”, is inflammatory. You don’t seem to think the statement “There is a God.” is inflammatory. Actually, I agree with you on that. The statement “There is a God.” is simply silly.
So I guess it’s okay to advertise silly ideas, but not to try to say something to counter them?
I am an atheist. I have not always been an atheist. In fact I was raised in the Anglican church and can still recite the Apostles Creed by heart. But some time around the age of puberty, a few years after I had realized that Santa was not real, I started to ask my self how much of what I had learned in church sounded real. The answer, not very much at all. In fact, none of it. It’s all obviously a made up story.
People continue to passionately tell this made up story, acting as if it has real meaning and value. It doesn’t. It’s nonsense. I’m surprised that you stand in the way of telling people this, while supporting those who are spreading nonsense in your community.
I do hope you will reconsider your position on this. It is absurd that you advertise the view of people who believe in an imaginary friend, while preventing reasonable people from making a counter claim.
Greta Christina says:
“Atheists have been calling, writing, emailing, blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, and more, letting LIND know that their anti-atheist bigotry is not acceptable. (If you agree and want to let LIND know about it, call them at 800/444-LIND; call LIND vice-president Maura Siegenthaler at 419/571-4286 [cell]; email Siegenthaler at firstname.lastname@example.org; fax LIND at 419-522-1323; or write them at 409-411 North Main Street, Mansfield, OH 44902.)”
I’ve done my bit. Now it’s your turn. Let them know what you think about allowing religious crap to be spread around while censoring reason.
Posted: December 3rd, 2011 | Author: Darwin Harmless | Filed under: freedom of speech and rule of law, How Weird is our Culture, Opposing bigotry, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Somebody seems to want to start a religious war. I get messages promoting hatred from people who seem to be loving, caring relatives of mine. The latest was a bunch of photographs of a protest in London. Here it is:
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS (You’ll notice the language is pure hyperbole -DH)
IS THIS WHAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH MEANS . (Actually, yes it is. It’s exactly what Freedom of Speech means. -DH)
Pictures from London — this is beyond scary… (Oh, I’m shaking in me boots here. -DH)
Makes you wonder doesn’t it….can you imagine having a Christian demonstration against Islam in an Islamic country ! (And your point is? We should be more like them? -DH)
View the pictures below and decide how you really feel about the future of the Western World. (You think this says something about the future of the western world? You’re crazier than the dudes in the pictures. -DH)
These pictures are of Muslims marching through the STREETS OF LONDON (Oh no, not London. And in caps yet. What will the Queen think? -DH)
Why would anyone think that we should be at war with such nice, peaceful Muslims.
You need to forward this one to everyone! (Uh, sure. So we can do what? Get upset? But a gun? -DH)
These pictures tell it all!
Muslims have stated that England will be the first country they take over! (Oh come on. They were just kidding. -DH)
These are pictures not shown on TV or Newspapers, I wonder why?
I guess it would be against ‘their’ human rights. (Again, your point is? You don’t like human rights? Or only for you lot? Not for Muslims. -DH)
********************** End of Hate Message. Now for some reason and love. **********************
And my answer to this crap:
I think this is inspiring and encouraging.
First of all, let’s put things in perspective. London has a population of 7,825,200 people, of whom we can expect 0.9 percent to be mentally ill (http://www.jstor.org/pss/588744). That means that in London alone there are roughly 70,000 certifiably mentally ill people. Barking mad. Almost all of these people will be harmless, but at least a few hundred will hold delusions of persecution and violent fantasies of revenge. Is it surprising that a few of these people will be from the Muslim community, given the way we’ve been bombing and killing Muslims for the past few years? Is it really surprising that fifty or sixty of them might band together, paint up protest signs, and claim to represent a much larger though mostly peaceful group. Even ignoring duplicates in several pictures, I only count 21 protest signs here. The camera is not showing the extent of the group. The photographer is concentrating on tight shots, and giving the impression of a much larger protest than is actually happening. This is a few idiots, not thousands of people in the street.
To take this group of nutters as in any way indicating the future of the world is truly delusional in its own right.
But there is very good news here. You will notice the cop in some of these pictures. I think he’s probably appalled by this protest. He doesn’t agree with these people. He’s there to protect these fools from assault by Christians and “patriots”. That is a wonderful thing. Even though their message is hateful, and even though they oppose everything we stand for, we still allow them to speak. In public. In other words, the world they want to create would not allow the activities they are visibly enjoying. I think that is just marvelous. The irony is delicious. This makes me feel so very good about our society and our way of life.
I do not claim that these people, as individuals, are not dangerous. They are quite capable of murder when their prophet of peace and love has been insulted. Apparently, much like your Christian God, their prophet is not capable of defending himself without their help. These people, as individuals, frighten me. They horrify me. But I’m not going to be provoked into any reaction or attempt to suppress them. I like them right where I can see them, out in the open announcing their hate and fury to the whole world.
Email messages like this one you have sent me always leave me wondering: What is the sender hoping I will do? Should I buy a gun? Should I get ready for a holy war? Should I just go and kill a few Muslims before they kill me and mine? Or is the sender looking for some kind of legal sanctions against this kind of protest? Does the sender want our country to be more like those middle eastern countries, where protests are forbidden?
It always amuses me that the emails ask “can you imagine having a Christian demonstration against Islam in an Islamic country !” No, of course I can’t. And that’s why I don’t live in one of those countries, and why I think our way of life is so much better. What are they suggesting? Should we be more intolerant, like those we despise? Should we be more like “the enemy” we are trying to educate and enlighten?
So, in answer to the prominent first question: “Can you believe this.” Yes I can. And I think it’s great. It would never be allowed in an intolerant, repressive country where people are not free to display their insanity in public. Just don’t extrapolate it beyond what it is – a small crowd of lunatics drawn from the population of one of the world’s largest cities.