Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Aussies on Parade

There are so many people in this world who have lives that are filled with everyday challenges and horrors that I do not have to face and hopefully never will.

But somehow, that brings small comfort when life kicks you in the ass. Because I am not living their life, I'm just trying to slog through my own.

A friend recommended that I give Babylon 5, a sci-fi television series, a look see. Being the left-to-right sort of person that I am, I started at the beginning and watched all the way through 5 seasons worth of shows, every single one of them. HOLY SHIT that is an awesome series!!!!
I've always been a Star Trek fan, but never have I thought the creators of Star Trek were above reproach. They made some of the stupidest decisions I have ever seen. But B5... wow. The story line flows from the first show, all the way through to the last, cohesively. I can only imagine that they had the whole thing sketched out first.

I'm planning on watching it again, this time at a much slower pace and capture even more of the amazing things they had the characters saying during the series.

This last bit has been fair warning, that from time to time on my blog here, you will see a B5 quote, so this is the one time I yap about how much I love the series, after that I'll just get to the quote.

I've been known upon occassion to complain,"That's not fair!" and then some assbag will always reply, "Who ever said life was fair?" And I always hated that. ALWAYS. I'd usually reply, "Well who said life shouldn't be?" Then I heard Marcus say this on B5.

I used to think that it was awful that life was so unfair.
Then I thought, "Wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair?
And all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?"

So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.
~ Marcus, ranger, Babylon 5

So, the universe, after a week of complete shite which culminated in the dumbest argument I've ever had in my life to date- topic: toothpaste, smiled upon me. I had the best late afternoon and evening yesterday. Good things started happening and they just kept piling on top of each other and I'm still smiling inside because of them.

First- I went to the library and chatted with a new friend of mine, very fun! *waves hello*

Second- While I was waiting for the monsoon-type rain to let up, I heard from a really old friend that he will be returning safely from Iraq after 1.5 years in a few days. *waves an American flag*

Third- I received a completely unexpected gift from another new friend *chucks him on the shoulder*
(He's an Aussie, they don't actually do the shoulder chucking thing in Oz, but hey, as an American, it's my obligation to bring culture and refinement to those living on an old prison colony.) *snerk*

Fourth- The Forum I'm a member of gave me a really cool sounding totally unique title to go under my name when I log in, and now I'm going to have to post more often, just to see it show up. PLUS, I've got some assumed responsibilities to go with it, since it says "Foreign Correspondent". *happy dance*

Fifth- I took my son to karate class and he had the best class in a long time. He got to work with Matt, a fabulous instructor, who is really great with kids. He explains things in great detail, is very patient, and gets down on his knees to be at the same level as my son for better targeting. I watched my son blossom under his tutelage, learning a lot, and all from a teacher who was enjoying the process as much as I was enjoying watching it. Do you know what a treat that is to see someone enjoy working with your child? Just a beautiful feeling.

Sixth- When we got home from karate class, there was pizza waiting on the table for us, fresh from the oven.

Seventh- New e-mails from new friends awaited me when I logged into my e-mail accounts.

*BLISSFUL SIGH* Life is good and the pendulum always swings the other way.

Monday, August 20, 2007

to Tyler

I met a hero today.

He was sitting on the couch during my son's karate class. Young gentleman, probably mid to late 20's. He's interested in joining the dojo for the mental discipline as well as the physical training. In the course of visiting with him I found out he was a marine. He served in Afghanistan in the infantry and in the course of doing so was shot twice, once in the abdomen.

I've never met a veteran before. Oh sure, when I was in grade school they would parade the geezers from World War II past us with their funny white spats on their shoes as they carried in the flag. But I was young and unaware of...well anything outside the playground.

But this was different. This kid is younger than me. YOUNGER. And yet has seen so much more than I will ever see. Thankfully!

In the course of visiting with me, he told me how hard it has been to maintain body weight and where he was once 175 he now struggles to keep it at 155. :-/ I wanted to make a joke about wishing I had that problem but not being willing to pay that price. But I didn't. Because what he went through for our country isn't funny and it would have been monumentally disrespectful of me to have made that kind of joke to a complete stranger.

He talked about his injury and said that the muscles are no longer in the correct position and lifted his shirt to show me the wound.

I have never seen a bullet wound scar before. Ever. And certainly not one that was taken for me, however indirectly. It was right below his sternum and left a sunburst pattern around a light pink center the size of a quarter.

I wanted to thank him for what he has endured but didn't know how to say the words.

Friday, August 17, 2007


It is a glorious fall day here. The sun is shining but the threat of summer heat no longer lives in its rays. 70*F (roughtly 21*C) a smattering of clouds and a cool breeze. A more perfect day could not be imagined. Well there is one ingredient I would add if I could....Nevertheless.

The kids and I went for a bike ride single file along a road out of town. We ride against on-coming traffic so we can see them coming and get over for them. I noticed my son's bike seat was turned slightly to the side and asked him if he had noticed. My daughter asked me to look at how loose her seat was and how she could swivel it to one side. He stopped to see for himself. She turned to see if I was noticing her seat.

What I saw I could not prevent. I saw her smashing into my son staring at his bicycle seat. I saw her wheel crash into his and throw her to into the ditch. I saw all the things that could have happened. Broken bleeding limbs. And me helpless to prevent it.

What is it about an imminent accident that slows time, heightens our awareness, that breaks me from myself so that I can watch what is happening, shout at myself to say something do something, anything to prevent it, and yet remain helpless behind it. Unmoving. Inactive.

And so, they picked themselves up, showed me their scrapes, and we turned and headed for home. They will not long think of this, except perhaps to remember that when you are behind, you must watch the front to see if it stops. And if you are the front, you must make sure the behind sees you stop.

But what of me? *sigh* It is the stuff of nightmares. To stand helplessly by while my children face danger and suffering unable to prevent it. The only comfort I can offer myself is that I am doing everything in my power to teach them to avoid what they can and face what they cannot.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mark Cahill e-mail & his proof of god

Just to make sure Cahill and I are on the same page, I e-mailed him and asked him "what is faith?". He replied...

The best definition of faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What you really want to distinguish is between blind faith and a calculated faith. You don’t blindly believe in Australia.

You look at evidence to make that decision. The same thing is that you don’t believe Australia is in the northern hemisphere. The evidence doesn’t lend you to believe that. So you look at evidence to make your decision.

You do the same thing with God. You take a look at the evidence and see if it is there. If you believe in no god, then you take a look at the evidence to see if it backs up your belief system.

So as you can see, the search is always for truth. I never look for something to believe in. I search for the truth.

Keep searching for the truth. You will find it.

Faith, evidence, truth. Tied together to look rational.


Many people believe there is no God because they are convinced that science has fully explained how our universe came to be.

What scientist on the planet claims ANYTHING is *fully* explained let alone the origins of the universe?

How is it that we can predict the precise day of a full moon or an eclipse, or determine whether to expect a violent thunderstorm or a fresh snowfall? Where does lightning come from, or a brilliant rainbow?

SCIENCE- Science allows us to do these things. Yet Cahill implies that god is providing these answers. I can think of a few meteorologists who wasted a lot of time in school learning to interpret weather data when maybe they should have been in church learning to hear god's voice.

So if everything man-made has a creator, designer, artist, or orderer behind it, why would we not think that there is a Creator, Designer, Artist, and Orderer behind the universe?

Logically, we know that there cannot be an unpainted painting, an unsculpted sculpture, an undesigned design. That just doesn't make sense. And it makes much less sense for us to base our eternal destiny on something that we know is not reasonable.

Something from Nothing -> Big Bang
Cause and Effect -> First Cause
Evidence of Design -> Blind Chance
Moral Law -> Mindless, random, chance processes

I cannot do it.

I cannot continue to read this tripe and and reinvent the wheel debunking it. I have seen nothing that has not been addressed by Dawkins, Smith, and the others.

I also owe you an apology for an appallingly boring couple of blog entries.

Mark Cahill

One Heartbeat Away: Your Journey Into Eternity

This book is dedicated to Truth.
If you search for it, you will find it.

Irony- 1) The use of words to convey the opposite of their literal meaning.
2) Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.
3) Dedicating a book of false assumptions and baseless conclusions to Truth.

We are all one heartbeat away from death. Where will you be in 300 million years?

300 million years from now I will be in the same place I was 300 million years ago.

What is the purpose of our existence? Many people think it is just to go to school, party a little, find a job, get married, have kids, attend sporting events, watch their hair turn gray (or turn loose), retire, play golf, and die...Wouldn't it be important to find out where you are gong after you die, and for your family to join you there someday?

I am horrified that Cahill's answer to the purpose of existence is exclusively concern about the life after death. Not about producing anything of value, or making a difference in this life, or leaving the world a better place, but only about himself and his family and their life AFTER they die. Focus on your death and what happens afterwards. What about this life? What about making this life meaningful and purposeful? What about working towards the things you value most now?

Oh- I see, none of that matters, only getting to heaven matters.

He uses statistics gathered by the Barna Group. whose ultimate aim is to partner with Christian ministries and individuals to be a catalyst in moral and spiritual transformation in the United States.

No potential for bias or misinterpretation of statistics in this organization is there? Let's see what they have to say:
- 8 of 10 Americans believe in some sort of afterlife.
- 79% agree that "every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God's presence or absence."
- 1 in 4 adults admits that he has "no idea" what will happen after he dies.
- Two-thirds of atheists and agnostics accept the existence of an afterlife.

He then goes on to sum up Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Atheist, and New Age beliefs in the afterlife.

"Although we may not realize it, we all have faith in something. In fact, you place your faith in many things every day. You have faith each time you drive that other drivers will stop at red lights. You have faith that the chair on which you're sitting will continue to hold you. Every time you fly, you exercise faith that the pilot is not suicidal and planning to crash the plane."

Faith. He tosses that word around like it is the only way to describe human thought. He uses it as if it is synonmyous with rationality, knowledge, judgment, reason, evidence, experience.

What is faith, to a christian?

Faith- 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.* Hebrews 11:1-3 NKJ

Faith 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seens was not made out of what was visible. NIV

Faith So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. NKJ

Faith If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you. Luke 17:6 NIV

Why both translations? Because that crap is confusing enough one time, at least if it is rephrased from a slightly different angle it increases my "understanding".

So what do I "understand" about faith? That it is about day dreams (hopes) and imagination (things not seen) and if I have enough of it I can grow silk worms in the ocean. Riiiight.

How about knowledge outside the christian "faith". Let's try reason.

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses.**

I don't use faith when I drive. I use my senses to watch for others around me, including morons that run red lights. I use my mind to make reasoned decisions about road conditions, other drivers, my own vehicle.

When I approach a chair, once again- senses- does it look like a chair capable of supporting me. How does it compare to chairs that I have experienced in my past. Does it have at least 3 legs positioned appropriately to not tip me on my ass when I sit on it? Do a faith check. Nope, not a lot of wistful thinking going on in my brain when it comes to chairs.

If I were to fly, I would research the company- Do they have a good reputation for reliability? Is there any reason to believe or evidence to support concern for the pilot's capabilities? I guess how much I look into it, depends on how paranoid I am being.

When I read tripe like Cahill's I can feel my mind glazing over, the rational part starting to shut down, lose focus. But when I pull back, look at what is actually being said, THINK about the issues he brings up, it becomes one gigantic WTF????

It all comes down to the faith thing. The desire for things hoped for, believing in the unseen. My mind does not accept that as a rational approach to life.

And while I was researching the faith stuff.... check this out...

Hebrews 6:4-6 NIV It is imposssible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Hebrews 6:4-6 NKJ 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Looks like fallen christians are fucked. Where's the forgiveness there? Is it just me or does the christian god look for reasons to throw you on the fire? How is an eternity of punishment a just response to the mistakes made in less than 100 years of living??????? Seriously- over react much????

Can you imagine how fast a child would be taken from a parent who beat their child every day of their life for stealing a candy bar as a 3 year old? Isn't that at least partially equivalent to hell?

50 lashes with Daddy's belt for stealing that snickers. Every day. For the rest of your life.

At least the belt would stop when you are dead. But with god? Oh no, death brings no relief. The beating continues for all eternity.

* New King Jammes Version
** Objectivism: the Philosophy of Ayn Rand

So much for the Introduction.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

born again attempt # 3

About five days ago, I got a call from my fundy neighbor, "Do you have a minute? I'd like to talk to you." So I went.

Guess what he wanted to talk about?

Jeebus. Or more specifically his key concern was "Do you believe in a deity?"

I wonder if he figures that calling a supernatural being a deity prevents confining it to human terms like Yahweh or Allah or Apollo. Maybe he was leaving open the possibilities. I'm not sure.

I said, "I really don't think that is any of your business. Why do you want to know?"

He said, "Every time you come over here, you turn off the radio station."

He plays a christian talk radio station 24/7 and it is my contention that he does so to keep his mind focused on the lord and to keep himself from drifting away and doubts. The radio is pro-creationism, constantly has messages from Answers in Genesis, anti-abortion and anti-homosexuals. Basically it is all fundy all the time. Drives me batshit, so I've taken to bringing over a cd of music, any music, just to have something else playing in the back ground.

I said, "Ah. Well, I find the radio to be particularly distracting. It makes it very difficult to concentrate on the people that I have come to see because all I can hear is that droning away in the background and I can't hear what people are saying to me. So I bring my own music which acts as white noise. Much more polite to the people I'm with."

He was quite disappointed by my answer and tried a different tactic. "Do you believe in evolution?"

I gave a disbelieving snort and said, "Of course, don't you?"

He said "no." I looked at him like he was an odd get and sensing that evolution was not going to be a weak point with me he changed the subject yet again.

"Don't you believe that your kids should have the best chance at an afterlife? How can you deny them that?"

I said, "That's Pascal's Wager."

confused look

I said, "The challenge, that there might be a god so better safe than sorry you might as well believe in it."

more confusion...

I looked him square in the eye and said, "Do you believe that my children will burn in hell for the choices I make."

He began backpeddling immediately, "Well, now, I don't know, I was just thinking that it's not fair to them..."

And I interrupted. I said, "Do you believe in hell Ken?"

"Yes, of course" he said. I said, "And you're ok with that?"

He said, "Oh come now who are we..."

And I said, "No, don't give me that 'we're not supposed to judge god' crap, Ken. You know the difference between right and wrong, don't you? Don't you?"

He said, "Yes of course."

I said, "No one deserves to be tormented for all eternity Ken. No one. Think about it, not one year, or ten years, but for the rest of all time. Utter torment, anguish, despair. Who deserves that? Who are you not to stand up and say, 'That is FUCKING horseshit! No one should burn in hell'?"

Long pause....He said "That's the price they pay."

I said, "Ken, let's think about this. God is omnipotent, omniscient and all powerful, yes? And he picked up the clay and formed it in his own image and just before he breathed life into its nostrils he knew all that was to come. That there would be billions upon billions of these creatures and most of them would suffer for all eternity in a hell he created just for not believing in him. For the sake of the worship of a few billion of these creatures, billions more would spend all time in hell. Why? Why did he go through with it Ken?"

Long pause...He said, "Well what do you think happens after you die, nothing?"

I said, "That's right, we go back to the same place we were before we were born. No where. It didn't bother us before birth, I doubt we will care much after we are dead."

Long pause...He said, "But without god people would live selfishly."

I said, "Give me one example of how people would live selfishly. How do I live selfishly Kenny, what's in it for me to live that way?"

He said, "Well of couse, you'd live for yourself and your children."

I said, "How would I live selfishly that wouldn't harm me or my children or my friends, my loved ones, my neighbor?"

Long pause...

Still pausing...

He said, "I guess there's nothing more for me to say, I can see you've made up your mind." He tilted his head to the side, gave me a wink, a smile, and said, "I'll be praying for you."

"Oh, well thank you very much." So I left.

I don't think that conversation went the way he expected.

I rather think he was hoping to get me to cry, admit what a miserable sinner I am, show me the path to the lord.

I don't think any conversion conversation has ever taken such a right hand turn as that for him.

That was about 5 days ago.

Tonight he has brought me a book. It is called One Heartbeat Away by Mark Cahill.

I reposted by giving him George H. Smith's book Atheism: The Case Agaist God.

I said, "I will read yours, if you will read mine."

He took it and left.

I better get it back.

Stay tuned and you'll get a chapter by chapter report of the book. If it doesn't make my brain turn to tapioca.

All Hail Fall!!!!

Summer is gone
The worst of the heat is past!
I survived another one without melting into a puddle of goo.

What does this have to do with anything?
Nothing, it is a perfectly innane topic but it makes me happy so I shared.

What's squeezing your happy trigger today?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

voices in the dark

Often on my blog I have begun with or included the phrase "and this got me thinking". I am always delighted when something unexpected comes along and I find myself exploring an issue from a new angle or thinking about a new issue altogether.

Recently the idea of assumptions came up. Twice, recently, I have made incorrect assumptions about people I've met online: the first was that an individual was male (I tend to relate with and converse more easily with men), and the second was that another individual was my age (what in the world is a respectable older person doing reading my blog????) ;-)

This got me thinking (see there I go again) about who my target audience is.

I worked in radio sales selling radio ads for awhile and had been exposed to massive amounts of sales literature prior to that. I knew all about target audience and key age ranges for sales and marketing (the 18-24 age range is huge). But I've never before thought about that in conjunction with my blog- who my target audience is, how that effects what I write, and how the imagined audience effects my assumptions about who comments on my blog.

When I sit down in front of my laptop, and open up the New Post window...who am I writing for? Who am I talking to? Have I ever consciously thought about who my imagined audience of my blog is?

No, I guess I haven't consciously thought of that answer. Then the question becomes, who am I subconsciously writing to?

Am I writing to the person who has read my blog the longest (BigTex), to friends I have made along the way (Ginny, Poodles, Gramomster), to hot studly Aussies who like what I write (you know who you are), to people who share my philosophical ideas (Richard, JohnGalt666), to the people who disagree with me but continue to read in spite of our differences :-) (Janice, reg golb). I know there are other people who poke in from time to time (King Aardvark, Tommy) and others that stopped in once or twice and that I have no idea if they have ever come back (XO, Reed, Jacob, Stinkbait Boucher and more). I also know there is at least one lurker who has never commented (*waves hello*).

My blog would not be the same without any of these people.

If you didn't show up and read it and comment on my blog, then it is a soliloquy heard by no one. A tree in the forest that falls alone, whether or not it made a sound, would be irrelevant because no one was there to note its passing.

I write because there are thoughts in my mind that I want to formalize. Thoughts that burn within me crying out for a voice lest they fade into nothingness and vanish. If my thoughts fade away, what am I left with? Thoughts unshared are wisps of fog that vanish with the dawn.

Through writing I can reveal more about myself then is possible in a spoken conversation, which, if left to rattle on this long uninterrupted, would be hideously boring for the listener.

But a reader can skip ahead to the punch line, or jump back and re-read for clarity. And the commenter can add their own thoughts on the subject, call the person on errors, ask questions, provide answers, etc...

I think...that when I write my blog... that I write to capture snapshots of myself and share them with others.

And thanks for reading :-D

Friday, August 10, 2007

reality v. make-believe

Parents face a choice. Do they teach their children that there really is a Santa Claus or an Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or even such other creatures as elves, mermaids, fairies, gnomes, etc...? Or do they teach their children that such creatures are make-believe: fantasies and pleasant stories that bring joy, amusement, and delight.

Some do. Some don't.

I wonder if you can guess which category I fall into?


My children have created a game of make-believe: a world they have created entirely on their own and popluated with all kinds of fantastical creatures and special abilities. They play it regularly and often for several hours at a time.

One of my daughter's classes this year is an Introduction to Metaphysics (nature of the universe as a whole) and Epistemology (nature and the means of human knowledge). During her second class she asked if learning philosophy would ruin their pretend game.

One atheist mother who does teach that fantasy characters are real said this of her decision, "I love leading my kids on and promoting their belief in them all. I actively encourage it. I pacify that hypocritical pang because I figure in the long run, its part of the whole childhood thing of working out reality vs. make-believe for themselves.

I am having trouble reconciling this view with the notion held by many atheists that children should not be exposed to religion before they are old enough to decide for themselves the difference between real and make-believe, between faith and reason, between belief and scientific knowledge. Shouldn't our job as parents be to make it as obvious as possible the difference between real and pretend?

Being a parent is hard. The older they get, the harder it is, because the consequences are so much more long-lasting. If you screw up when the child is one year old, there is a minimal chance they will remember it. If you screw up when the child is older, not only will they remember it and ask questions about it, but there is the potential for them being scarred for life by it. All this stress over the long term consequences of possible minor mishaps.

How about something as important to a child as Santa Claus?

Santa does not exist. That's right Virginia; he's a story, a fantasy. That does not mean kids who don't believe in Santa can't enjoy Christmas.

My mate and I never lied to our children about fantasy creatures- any of them. We told them fantasy characters like Santa are a delightful pretend; a story that is told in December; a fantasy game, if you will, that people play because it makes the time special, mysterious, and exciting.

Do we pretend that Santa comes on Christmas Eve night and leaves presents? Yes

Have my children enjoyed the holiday any less knowing that Mom and Dad are really Santa Claus? No. I don't think so.

Will my children ever have to find out the hard way that ["Pssst....Do you believe in Santa Claus? You do? Ha ha!!!! You're such a baby! Everyone knows Santa is just your parents!"] their parents' have been lying to them? No

Always I've tried to be honest with my two. Honest about having a bad day or when I need time to myself. Honest about their own emotional experiences, the physical changes their bodies go through, sex, even the meaning behind sly adult innuendo that they overhear.

As an atheist parent, this pretending about Santa et al. causes a special dilemma for me. By encouraging them to PRETEND to believe in Santa Claus and participating in that game of pretend myself....have I still done them a disservice?

I went through years of my life pretending to be a christian. Forbidding myself to look hard at the bible and ask the difficult questions. Shutting off my mind and trying to only feel with my heart. I never got to the born-again stage of christianity. But I certainly beliebed that I was a christian. Up until I was 13 the only place I'd come in contact with the idea of being born-again was in religious fiction like the books of Janette Oke. Many of her characters experience "born-again" moments so I had an idea of what emotions were involved in the experience, expectations of what could and should happen. The thoughts that the characters had as they accepted jesus as their savior.

I think that is why, when I tried twice to be born-again myself that I waited passively for those feelings to come to me. For the emotions that I thought would announce my....rebirth. When they didn't happen, I felt morally obligated to pretend that they had so as not to embarrass or disappoint the person I was with.

Have I left my own children vulnerable to pretending to believe? For faking a belief in something to please people around me? Have I left them vulnerable to pretending to believe in god?

The answer her teacher gave about whether philosophy would ruin their pretend game was "No, for the most part it will not. You already have a firm grasp on the difference between real and make-believe, so nothing will change."

Thursday, August 9, 2007

fun in montana

Demolition Derby 2007

Last night Papa Ewok got to go to the annual demolition derby held each year during the fair in my home town.

Some people cannot understand what is so appealing about people driving around painted cars and smashing them into each other.

Maybe you have to see it to understand it.

I for one regret missing it.

Next year Dad. Next year it will be you, me, Mama Ewok and my two kids!

I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

fuck politics and fuck all the fucking politicians

When Fiery weeps, she weeps the F-word.

Several months ago I created a political banner for the side of my blog endorsing Ron Paul for president of the united fucking states. I thought he was a man of reason, of freedom, of worth.

This is what the fucker fucking stands for...
Paul said he was pro-life and would make reversing the decision [Roe v. Wade] a top priority.

He also said that more people should be exposed to what abortion does to an unborn child and women who have them.

“The country should see what is happening and when they see the violence of abortion and what it really means, maybe they too would change their attitude about abortion,” said Paul.

Paul, a Texas congressman, also said he would make sure that taxpayer funds are not used to pay for abortions and explained that his training as a gynecologist taught him that human life is valuable.

"Life is sacred. The most obscene thing government could do is to ... use your money to commit abortion," he said to loud applause.

Fuck Ron Paul and his bid for the fucking presidency.

Politicians are all fucking corrupt trying to take america to hell as fast as fucking possible.

Political discussions are fucking pointless.

I don't like the term hate crimes.

Some of you believe there should be hate crimes.

None of us fucking matter. Our opinions our beliefs don't fucking matter.


redirect 2

Highly interesting discussion of hate crimes going on back at the 10 commandments post.

Head over, add a comment, enjoy the discussion!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

abandoned pets

My neighbors down the street a bit are going through a bad seperation possible divorce proceedings right now. I'm not even sure they are still occupying their house- no trash put out on collection days, no more dogs tied up all day out front, no sign of their kid at the park.

What there is though, is their cat. He keeps showing up in our yard, meowing and lonely and purrs like crazy when my 2 go out to see him. At first I thought he was lonely because the kids had been taken away from the parents and no longer live there. Now, I'm not sure anyone is taking care of him. He is getting so scrawny and it is sad to see. The life of a feral cat is nasty, brutish and short, usually ending as road kill.

I've been having the kids set out food and clean water for him for 2 days now.

It's just so damn sad. They didn't do that cat any kindness by turning it loose to fend for itself. Death by starvation and disease is a terrible end to a cat's life.


Friday, August 3, 2007

guilty pleasures

I am curious if you also have things that you secretly enjoy that would shock people who know you.

For example, a while back I admitted to my obsession with chocolate in confection. I can't believe that post was way back in May, so much has happened since then. wow.

Enough woll* gathering...sorry errr.... wool gathering. So- my current guilty pleasure is Yu-Gi-Oh!

It is a tv series based on a dueling card game complete with monsters, attack points, defense points, and the like.

And I am totally digging it! It has the coolest story line: the main character Yugi is inhabited by the spirit of an ancient egyptian Pharaoh Yami, who has the coolest voice by the way, and the series is their journey as they prevent dark forces from taking over the world.

This from wikipedia...Yu-Gi-Oh! tells the tale of Yugi Mutou, a shorter-than-normal high school student who was given an ancient Egyptian artifact known as the Millennium Puzzle in pieces by his grandfather. Upon completing the Puzzle, he is possessed by another personality which is later discovered to be the spirit of a 5000-year-old, in the English anime Pharaoh, who forgot everything from his time. As the story goes on, the two of them, together with Yugi's friends, try to find the secret of the Pharaoh's lost memories and his name by way of the card game Duel Monsters , which is mirrored in the Shadow Games.

The series repeatedly deals with subjects like honor, friendship, courage, determination, faith in yourself, trust, respect.

There are some things that would also stand out to make a hillarious drinking game: repetetive phrases, constant challenges to quit that are turned down, threats of imminent defeat.

So, there it is. My son and daughter want to own the complete first season of Yu-gi-oh! all 49 episodes and I DO TOO!! :-)

Now if only I could find it available for less that $55 + S&H. OUCH!!!!!

The search is on.
If you or anyone you know has it and wants to part with it, I'm willing to go $30 including S&H. MORE YU-GI-OH!!!!!! :-D

*on a completely unrelated side note...Is that REALLY how you spell the hairy covering of a sheep? WOLL???? It doesn't look like a real word to me: wull, woll, wuhll???? I can't believe I'm consulting the dictionary for a four letter word!!!! Ohhhhh thank the american heritage dictionary, it's WOOL!!!!!! WHEW!!!! I was really suffering for a moment there. Now my world is in alignment again.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

10 commandments

Janice would like to know if I do not adhere to 5-10 of the commandments as being morally relevant even though I am an atheist.

Before I fisk the 6 commandments, I do not believe that these moral codes originated with the Israeli tribal god. They have been present in many civilizations prior to the Israelites and Moses. See the code of Hamurabi and more, which if you wish I can track down. There are also those who claim that the 10 commandments were for the jews only and only meant for the jews dealing with other jews- a way of rationalizing much of the god commanded killing, slaughter and mayhem the jews committed throughout the old testament.

Also- as repeatedly stated in my post on morality...the reason I make any moral decisions is because it is in my own self-interest and not as a way to avoid burning in hell. Personal choice. My responsibility for my own actions. Not out of fear of divine retribution.

6 of the 10 commandments according to the New King James Version Exodus 20:1-20

#5 “ Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

I love my mother and father because they are good and wonderful people. Because they have cared for me and loved me throughout my life. They have earned my love and respect and even my honour of them.

Not everyone is as fortunate as I am with my parents. I firmly believe that it is evil to offer unconditional honor to another human being based on their genetic code and its similarity to your own. There are absolutely situations where it is evil to maintain contact with your biological parents, or even your adoptive parents for that matter.

#6 13 “You shall not murder.

At this point in my life it is not beneficial for me to "off anybody". Does that mean that I would not protect my family from harm? No. Does this mean I believe all killing is evil. No.

#7 14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The parameters of my relationship with my mate are between him or her and me. They are nobody's business but our own. If we decide to have a sexually open relationship that doesn't concern anyone but me, him, the other, and possibly my children. It is nobody else's business.

#8 15 “You shall not steal.

I would steal if it was necessary to save my life or the lives of my children. Once again, based on the goals in my life and what is necessary for my own survival.

#9 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Sometimes lying is necessary. Evil people do not deserve the truth. If a hostage taker demands to know where your hidden children are, you are morally despicable if you do not lie to protect them.

Does not god open the bible with the first lie? He said "hey- do you see this tree here? It's covered in beautiful luscious fruit. And you can't have any of it, cause I said so. If you eat of this tree you will surely die" They didn't die, they gained knowledge of good and evil. For that he sentenced them to a life of mysery and eventual death with the possibility of life in hell.

#10 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

What is this, a thought crime? No matter how much I want my neighbor's new car, it does not affect him in any way. Nor should that be a sin. If I think the guy across the street is hotter than James Marsters in a red silk shirt, then what business is that of anybody's except possibly my mate. It is the acting on those desires that can create problems.

Check out what happens after the commandments were laid down. Did the people rejoice in their new found freedom and love for each other?
18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”
20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.”

Why did they say they would obey the commandments? Because they are afraid of god. Fear is not a positive emotion. If the only reason you act as a good person is to avoid the wrath of god....how morally depraved is that?

Make moral choices because it is the right thing to do!

This needs more, but I am at the library and running out of time.

beet analogy

Janice's beet analogy
I liken it to a child growing up being told to eat beets, they're good for you but not really knowing why they're good for you.

The first line of this analogy is about obedience. It wasn't said to this child, "Would you like to try something new?" Or "Here, this is one of my favorites, you might like this." The child is told to "eat beats". It isn't explained that there are vitamins and minerals that will help prevent colds, cure the chicken pox, and clear up acne. (Can beets really do that stuff?)

Yet it is highly appropriate that the beet analogy begins with a demand for obedience. For the christian god demands unquestioning obedience from his followers. God is the master, man is the slave and is not permitted, under pain of eternal damnation, to use his own judgment about morality.

How do you not recoil in horror that god killed every first born in Egypt?
Exodus 12:29-30
Does it not horrify you that 42 children were mauled to death by two bears for teasing Elisha for being bald? 2 Kings 2:23-24
What war crimes tribunal would not be absolutely correct to convict a leader that ordered, "Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children."? (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)

Janice, I mean these questions very sincerely. I am not trying to ridicule you or make fun of your faith. How do the attrocities commanded by, ordained by, and carried out by god not fill you with condemnation, moral outrage, horror, or disgust? As a mother, aren't you the least bit appalled that a child was hideously murdered by a bear because he ran with the wrong crowd?

Back to the beet analogy

As for complimenting the meal, Easter and Christmas come to mind. FE admits to the joy she feels during Christian holidays while denying the existence of God.

The post Janice is referring to is me and christmas and is exclusively about christmas, I never was a fan of easter. The summation of what I like about christmas is food, decorations, lights, weather, singing, candles, family time, and Santa presents. Then after waxing rhapsodic about the details of each of these I go on to talk about my current disillusionment with the holiday.

I still miss it. I miss that special feeling that christmas engendered. That inner quiet beauty, sense of light, wonder. Awe that a supernatural being came to earth as a baby because he loved me.

Janice- if christianity stopped there, with his love for me, I'd be ok with that. But it doesn't. And it is all the rest of christianity that is unacceptable to me. To return to your beet analogy, I like beets, especially beet pickles. But if every time I ate them I got hideous stomach cramps and a migraine, I wouldn't eat them again, regardless of how much I liked the taste.

I look back on the list of things I really liked about christmas and a lot of them don't have to be religious. They could be secular. But now that I no longer believe there is a deity...well... it seems like a lot of effort to go through for nothing.

I guess the beet analogy here would be growing the beats, harvesting the beets, pickling the beets, canning the beets, and then throwing them away because they were poisonous to me.

No Janice, I do not deny god. I am incapable of believing in him. My reasoning brain has found no evidence to support his existence. No evidence that isn't better explained by science. I am also emotionally incapable of believing in a god that does not have to answer for his appalling actions. Should it come to be that the christian god exists I would demand an accounting of him for the Inquisition, the Holocaust, and certainly the entire Old Testament. And if he said, "Who are you to question me?" I would reply, "I am Fiery, I am who you made me to be, and you knew I would be this way. Now stop dodging the question."

If god knew, the moment he picked up clay to form man and before he bent to breathe life into its nostrils, that billions of his creations would spend an eternity roasting in a lake of burning fire... why did he keep going? Why did he breathe life into it at all? Why is the torment of billions an acceptable trade off for the worship of millions?

Janice, you said you wanted to understand my position about beets, and christianity, and christmas and morality. I hope this has shed some light on those issues.

moral compass

What is my moral compass, now that I no longer pretend to believe in god?

There is a common misconception among Christians that abandoning theistic belief also means abandoning morality.

In order to properly discuss this idea, I feel it necessary to define some terms at the onset.

What is morality? Morality is the code of values that man uses to guide his choices and actions in his life. Through these choices and actions, he determines his purpose in life and even the course that his life will take.*

What is ethics? Ethics is the science of values, which seeks to discover human values, classify them and integrate them into a coherent system of principles to guide man’s choices and actions.**

What are values? Values express the beneficial or harmful relationship of various aspects of reality to a living organism. When we say that something is a value we are saying that it is conducive to the life of that organism. Values start as basic as food, water, shelter, and clothing and expand into the choices we make about our personal relationships, our hobbies, our jobs, etc… What a man values will determine how he acts in his life.

But why do humans need morality and ethics? Can’t we just go through life doing whatever feels good at the moment? Aren’t morals relative to each situation and each individual?

Like any other living entity on this planet man is a biological organism, a living being faced with the alternative choice of life or death. No other being actually gets to choose if it will live or die. Animals and plants instinctively reach for life: observe the tree, growing in a mountainous crevice, straining at gravity-defying angles to reach the sunlight; observe the wolf, caught in a trap, chewing its own leg off so that it will not starve to death.

Humans do not have this instinct to always reach for life. Sometimes we make choices that are very bad for our lives even to the point of being deadly to us. Yet our very life is dependent on the daily choices that we make. Morality is the guide that helps us make these choices.

Two types of values
1- objective values- that which is necessary for our personal and immediate welfare

2- evaluative values- generated when we compare alternative courses of action, their projected consequences and the resulting decision to act in a way best suited to achieving our needs and goals in life.

It is possible to evaluatively value something that is, at the same time, not objectively valuable to your life. Smoking comes to mind. Some people value the calming effects of a cigarette in a tense situation. Yet objectively, there are serious negative consequences to long-term smoking that are not life-affirming.

And therein lies the choice that man must use his moral code to make- between life and death, between what is ultimately beneficial and what is ultimately harmful. We do not get to choose which things are necessary for us to live, but the choices we make in our daily actions in how we fulfill those needs is a constant choice between life and death. These values must be determined by man’s objective requirements for his life. Not what he wishes made his life better, but what his actual needs objectively are.

Two types of Ethical Theories
1- Teleological- concerned primarily with the good, with that which is of value, and is rationally based on standards necessary for the achievement of a desired goal.

2- Deontological- gives priority to what a man “ought” to do, his duty, and defines the “good” with reference to moral rules established by an external authority figure (usually a god) with the promise of reward or punishment for obedience.

Rational morality-
Based on the facts of human values determined by reason
Based on man’s need for objective values and need to determine goals conducive to his well-being
1- man is a conceptual being- he thinks in principles
2- man is a volitional being- he initiates his own thoughts and actions and must choose to think and act in order to survive
3- man is a purposeful being- he is goal directed and not limited to the animalistic stimulus/response

Religious morality-
Defends a universal moral order established by god and existing independently of man
Man’s duty is to obey the lawgiver and subordinate himself to the moral code
Obedience is the major virtue, disobedience the major vice
Rules are sanctioned principles of action with the threat of punishment
Fear of eternal damnation and separation from god
Guilt- to sin is the worst thing imaginable and is the built in condemnation for disobedience to god.

Christian ethics encourages intellectual passivity, fear that one’s thoughts and emotions may be sinful, guilt at the thought of disobedience to god, and the pervading feeling that one is basically helpless, unimportant and evil.

What do I use for my moral compass?

Life. Life is the moral compass that I live by. A healthy, happy, productive life.

What the question of morality seems to boil down to is this. How do people live together without hurting each other- through lying, cheating, murder, stealing, etc..?

Man is capable of rational thought. It is the tool we have that separates us from animals. We don't have protective fur or an exoskeleton; we are not equipped with ferocious claws or the ability to fly from danger. What we have is a thinking, reasoning brain. The ability to perceive the world with our senses, to form mental constructs based on sensory input that lets us compare one thing with another: to say the block falls when I drop it, the feather floats gently to the ground. The ball rolls, the book does not.

As we grow we learn that some things are good for us- fruits and vegetables; and some things are bad for us- poison, public school indoctrination, that sort of thing. The lessons get more complicated as we grow from infancy into adulthood.

The point is that throughout our day we know that there are actions we take that are life-affirming (getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising, being kind to those around us).

There are choices we avoid making because they are NOT life-affirming (actually taking a swing at somebody who makes us angry- we'd likely get our butts kicked, shooting the tires out from the car that cut us off on the interstate- we'd likely get into an accident just trying to avoid hitting them as they careen around).

The evil choices that people make are not in their own best interests. They are not rational: the Catholic priest that likes to diddle the altar boys. Leaving aside why he has decided to sexually deprive himself to the point that a prepubescent child becomes sexually appealing, it is NOT in his best interest to pursue that attraction. If he gets caught he can face public humiliation, the censorship of his congregation, jail time etc... Being an active pedophile is not rational.

As for the NON extreme cases, but just us regular folk, how do we get through the day without god telling us we'll burn in hell if we think sinful thoughts?

Rational self-interest. Is this good for my life? Will my life and the life of my children be enhanced by my decisions?

Life is my moral compass.

*Nathaniel Branden
**Ayn Rand
***George H. Smith

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

pivotal moment

I have had 3 pivotal moments so far on my atheist life path. The first was about 12 years ago, the second about 4 months ago, the third just today.

First my religious background- I was raised in the Lutheran Church: church every Sunday, baptized as a baby, first communion, confirmation, Sunday School during the school year and 1 week of Bible School during the summer. During junior high (approx. age 12) I had taken to reading my bible every night before bed and my biggest wish was to get a leather-bound bible with my name engraved on it.

Born Again Take 1- When I was approximately 13, I went to Bible Camp (nothing like Jesus Camp) where I was told by a counselor, while holding his hands 2 feet apart, that he saw me on his left hand and the Lord on his right hand. Then he brought them together and said that this is where I should be. So we met 15 minutes before curfew up in the chapel and he had one of those Chick tracts with him. I was so flattered that he was spending time with just me, I mean he was a hunky college guy after all, what 13 year old nerd wouldn't be thrilled??? So, we read through the little blue pamphlet and got to the prayer part... so I did it. I kept waiting for the fireworks or the divine revelation or something and nothing happened. He kept looking at me expectantly so I said something appropriate....But I was completely horrified that nothing had changed.

Born Again Take 2- The second time was when I was roughly 16 and at a Youth for Christ weekend retreat. I got to meet one of the celebrity singers there and he offered to pray with me. So, roughly the same thing happened, got together really late just him and me, read the tract, said the prayer, nothing happened...again.... What was the matter with me?

My first pivotol moment was when I was 22. I had struggled off and on with my faith up until that point, still wanting to believe, but really just going through the motions. I really thought there was something wrong with me. Dennis Miller described it best, "I'm genetically incapable of having a charismatic experience."

It was after reading the Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, which details a highly plausible theory on how and why gods came about, that I reluctantly come to the conclusion that there just wasn't a god. However, the guilt remained behind. I felt bad that I no longer believed in god. I also was furious that the churches were perpetuating such a lie.

My second pivotol moment came after 10 years of disbelief, about 4 months ago, I stumbled across EvilBible.com. Strangely enough, reading through this website eradicated all guilt that I had for not believing.

Now, not only DON'T I believe in god, I wouldn't WANT the christian god to exist. Evil. Murderous. Vindicitive. Petty.

How I got through Sunday School without realizing that any being capable of murdering the first born of an entire nation on a WHIM was an evil sociopath/psychopath I'll never know. You just weren't supposed to question god.

The third pivotol moment happened about 20 minutes ago while I was reading up on and researching morality. I have finally realized why my two attempts at becoming born-again did not take.

This is the passage I was reading from Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith who is quoting C.S. Lewis in this passage:

Christ takes it for granted that men are bad. Until we really feel this assumption of His to be true, though we are part of the world He came to save, we are not part of the audience to whom His words are addressed...

When coupled with this passage from the previous page:
A man motivated by guilt, however, is a man with a broken spirit; he will obey the rules without question. A guilt-ridden man is the perfect subject for religious morality.

I never felt it. I never truly believed I was a bad person. Never did they convince me that I was a sinner from birth, that I was incapable of being a good person on my own, that I deserve to be burned in hell for all eternity.

After all these years I finally get it.

I cannot become a born again christian because I do not believe in original sin. I do not beleive that I am a bad person without religion. I do not believe anyone deserves an eternity in torment.

My spirit is unbroken.

My spirit is unbroken!!!!

open forum 4

Thank google that August is here already. July is the hottest month of the year and I for one hate the heat. *gack*

As per the last few months, I'm putting up an open forum. Here's hoping for "hugs and puppies"* instead of snark and mayhem.

There have been times when visiting other blogs that I wanted to ask the blog owner a question off topic, but never really knew where to put it. I didn't want to be rude and bust into an on-going comment-conversation.

So- This post is the opportunity for any of my readers to broach a subject, ask a personal question, bring up a topic, whatever is on your mind...

Lemme have it!

oh and ...
* It's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer thing, from an episode where James Marsters was particularly fine.