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Posts Tagged ‘belief’

ImageI’ll never forget when US Airways flight 1549 had to do an emergency belly landing in the Hudson river and no one was injured. Shortly following the event, a whole lot of people started clamoring about how it was ‘a miracle’ or that God definitely played a role in getting all those people to safety. My inbox was no exception.

Such things tend to frustrate me because it shows the blatant confirmation bias of the religious thinker. No one questions that ‘God’ steps in to do the ‘good’ outcome but they do not also apply that similar thinking to the ‘bad’ outcomes any more than they think the same ‘God’ would have played a role in causing or should have played a role in preventing the situation in the first place.

For example, do you suppose that anyone on board was ‘cursing’ God when they thought they were going to die? Or what about passengers or witnesses to crashes where no one survives? Well, obviously, that is just part of God’s plan then right? It’s a mystery!

Such thinking is not only inconsistent and intellectually dishonest, it distracts from the real heroes doing real things — real people! — who are contributing to great outcomes. To more than one person who sent me the ‘miraculous’ assertion, I had but one response:

Yes, I am sure that God personally intervened to make sure that all of those passengers and crew as well as the people on the ground were not harmed.
I’m sure that the years of training and calm headed, quick thinking of the pilot and the flight crew played absolutely no role in keeping the jet from crashing.
And the air traffic controllers using the world’s most advanced and coordinated air traffic system, radar technology, two-way radio communications and direct lines to multiple airports across the northeast didn’t have anything to do with it.
Nor did the years of development and advancement in aircraft design, technology and safety measures contribute in any fashion.
The flight attendants, their years of training and their similar cool thinking keeping the passengers calm and following safety procedures that have been practiced and rehearsed had nothing to do with it.
Not to mention the passengers themselves for following instructions and remaining so calm and working together.
No one on the ground in New York city with a cell phone, similarly developed through years of technology utilizing one of the most advanced telephone systems in the world calling upon seeing the plane going down did anything to help.
The 911 operators utilizing their refined network of emergency resources and vast network of trained emergency response procedures obviously did not contribute.
Nor did the quick response of the harbor authority and their rescue vehicles that rushed to the aid of the plane once it was safely upon the water.
Obviously it was all God’s work.

Now I’m sure you’ll probably say ‘well, God created all those things’ or that he had a hand in carrying them out. But I’m just curious. If God really wanted to make sure all of those people were safe, wouldn’t it have been far easier and less trouble in the long run….

…. if he had just moved the goose 3′ to the left?”

WSIDAirplaneGeeseinFlight

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the-angry-mob

There are a number of folks who have disagreed with some of my statements and some of my methods. I treat the absurd with absurdity, I ridicule the ridiculous and whenever someone is being obtuse to the level of it being profane, I response with the acute use of profantity – e.g. ‘Fuck that shit!’

con-man4When debating particular ideas, concepts and the corresponding societal movements that all-too-often spring up as a result of them, I tend to be rather particular to not only attack the ideas themselves, but to then specifically condemn the people that ‘follow’ such ideas.

Whenever an idea exists, not based primarily on the self-evidence that is good or right, but instead leans upon consensus as a means to gain prominence, there is inevitably some charismatic figure making a good pitch leading the charge. It is the general practice of others when addressing such ideas being broadcast from a primary source of one or a small number of individuals, to attack the source. The problem is, the ideas don’t exist on evidence, they exist on consensus. The slickest con-man in existence is entirely irrelevant if no one swallows his magic elixir!

More specifically, whenever anyone is making a claim that will not stand on it’s own, it can only stand as a result of others supporting it. It can only resonate in society if a ‘mob’ gets behind it and forces it to become an actionable reality. Thus whenever anyone claims to support the idea, they aren’t simply supporting the assertions of the charismatic figure, they are taking on those assertions and becoming the means by which they achieve relevance.

Furthermore, were there not so many willing idiots, there wouldn’t be a market for the snake oil salesmen to begin with!

Let me give an example to get to the heart of what I mean. Someone comes up to me supporting some statist idea that the government should be empowered to collect taxes from me under threat of force. Those who disagree with my methods are making an assumption that the individual is simply enabling the use of force by not standing in the way of it being carried out. They aren’t the ones directly responsible because it is someone in a statehouse somewhere that proposed it, and it’s someone in a police force somewhere that will enforce it and make it actionable.

But in reality, especially in any society with representative governance, such ideas will never ever exist unless a significant enough number of people – individuals – either support it or allow it. Whether it be authoritarian concepts of statist politicians or similar principles being stated from pulpits by evangelical preachers, the ideas themselves are irrelevant until individuals make them actionable.

philosoraptor-choose-not-to-decide

To quote RUSH from the song ‘Free Will’,

“If I choose not to decide, I still have made a choice”

In other words, as the passive thinker stands there and tells you “I think this politician is right when he says you must be forced to help others” or “I think this preacher is right when he says you should not be selfish and sacrifice for the needy”, the most important part of either of those sentences is the first two words, “I think”. They are in essence telling you “You need to be forced to comply with what ‘I think'” – supporting the third party is simply a convenience to that individual in that someone else is energetically telling them ‘I’ll happily force them on your behalf!’

Thus, I don’t play nice with such people. If you say you support someone else doing me harm – you, in my mind, are saying harm should be done to me. If you help propel ideas to prominence that only propel to prominence because people like you help them get that way, you are the one making the concept actionable.

I still hold the statist or the theist responsible for promoting bad ideas and will challenge them regularly on the falsity, absurdity and profaneness of those ideas, but it is the individual that ‘believes’ the bullshit that I hold the MOST responsible for it’s existence!

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I heard some woman say the other day that if she could ask the candidates one question, she would ask them:

“Would you [willingly] die for your country?”

All I could think at the time was ‘what an idiotic question!’  Here this clearly – it takes an irrational person to say they willingly die for a country, a religion, a cause or any other reason.  There is, of course, the possibility that they mean something else. But it is important to pay attention to what words are actually used because words ‘mean things’!

I can think of a great number of causes that I would risk my life willingly to uphold, protect or defend. Certain ideas or ideologies are worthy of assuming risk to self for the purpose of defending. But NOT ONE of those ideas would I ‘willingly’ die for. As in, I am going to do everything in my power to avoid dying even if I am willing to risk my life.

Take a quote posted by someone on facebook today:

“The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.” – Eric Hoffer

I have often asserted that those who follow a ‘belief’, be it religion or statism or some other kind of subjective reasoning, supplants part of their self-esteem for the sake of the ideal. If their notion of what is good constitutes satisfying the constructs of a ‘belief’ that is not based on fact, then the notion of what is good for themselves is dependent upon adhering to the ideal. And if the ideal is one asserted by others and relies upon faith and not proof, then that person’s self-esteem is subject to the whims of the person claiming to speak for the ideal.

I would like to suggest that anyone who says “I would die for my country” just save us all time. Go to your kitchen, find a nice big butcher knife. Place the tip of it between the 4th and 5th ribs slightly to the left of your scapula, shout out whatever pro-state slogans you desire and have at it!

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I have spoken on this before in other threads, but I was updating the comments on a picture by repeating it so I thought it might also be worthy of a blog post to re-iterate the statements. (not to mention, I have been busy with work and haven’t had the energy to post much, so why not?)

Religion supersedes self-esteem by replacing the source of it with what I call ‘God-esteem’. When you combine the church notion that you can’t understand God or his mysterious ‘plan’ with the fact that the purpose for being is to ‘please God’, the notion of anything that is good or bad, including yourself and all your choices, actions and behaviors, is only good if God says it is good. Then you end up with a surrogate esteem through the perceived ideal that is the religion’s notion of ‘God’.

Of course, without proof of this God or proof of the alleged consequences of him (proof that it is his ‘word’ in the bible/torah/koran/book-of-the-dead, etc, proof that he/she/it speaks through the religion’s priests/ministers/missionaries/rabbis/monks/imam, etc.) then you are just as bound to the notion of faith to believe in this God as you are bound to rely _only_ on faith to know what this God wants and that what you are being told he wants is in fact true. (and I have as of yet to see a single instance where what is wanted is communicated by anything other than ‘other men’ or women)

For some time I was confused as to how people so boldly and arrogantly hung on to beliefs and stubbornly not only disagreed with, but ultimately “shut out” any valid or reasonable criticisms of those beliefs — and then in turn called that process of shutting out alternate views as virtuous! It was like they cling to their faith-based ideas as though their lives depended upon it.

But if their entire sense of self-esteem, all they have lived for and based their choices upon is hinged upon the existence of this being and the faith-derived notion that this being sees their life as good, then their entire sense of esteem does in fact rely upon that God existing, and existing as they perceive it to exist.

They cling to those beliefs as though their life and all that is good about it depends on it…. they cling to it as such, because in fact it does!

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How to take over the world:

  1. think up an ideal* that is ultimately unprovable, inconceivable, inexplicable, irreproachable and non-corporeal in nature (e.g. a “God”, the ‘common good’, the ‘State’, the ‘environment’, animal “rights”, EDIT: fighting a disease)
    * this goal should also ultimately be essentially unachievable in reality.
  2. convince people that adhering to the [pursuit of the] ideal is more important than their own rational self-interest
  3. demonize anyone or anything that questions or tries to controvert the existence of the ideal in #1 or the [pursuit of the] realization of #2
  4. convince your following that the ‘demons’ created in #3 are a threat to #1 and must either convert or be destroyed

(originally posted to my facebook)

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I tend to be political. When I am involved in politics, if forced to pick a ‘category’ for my politics, I most closely identify with libertarianism. But more often than not, I tend to find that my political action tend to entail fighting a similar sounding word – liberalism.
Mind you, I am one of the few in this world that still remember the difference between a Roosevelt democrat and a modern liberal. In short, I tend to associate the modern liberal with the philosophies of Moore (Thomas, not Roger) and more specifically, Marx. Therefore it comes of no surprise to me that collectivist and populist groups such as minority ‘rights’ collective movements or organized labor traditionally support or at least provide a voter base for the ‘modern liberal’ politician.
At the same time, I tend to hold an atheistic agnostic view of mysticism in general. Thus it often begs the question why I am more often willing to support a republican candidate ahead of a democratic (read: liberal) one when many republicans express an open inspiration from predominantly Christian belief systems and backgrounds. Upon thinking further on this subject I first looked at the similarities and then at the differences.

I tend to be leery of any organized movement that relies upon ‘belief’ to support their core objectives. Both religion and modern liberalism – mind you I am using that term synonymous with what could best be described as ‘softened’ collectivism – rely on belief in their ideal to support their motives and therefore their respective agendas. No biggie I suppose … just about any movement or even philosophy has behind it an idealistic goal that is as of yet unrealized and therefore requires some level of ‘belief’ that should it be realized (or at least sufficiently advanced) then the results will speak for themselves.
However, many such ideal do become at least somewhat realized and as of yet, the ideals of both parties (pun intended) have not spoken very strongly in support of their claims of what ‘should’ be expected by their realization. (at this point I could go into greater details of failed socialist or communist states or point to the horrors of time periods seen over by christian or other religious zealots – but I’m sure most are aware of enough of them to avoid the redundancy)

So what are the similarities?
Taking each onto themselves we can start with religion: a belief in an omnipotent being responsible for creating everything and somehow ever present in the events of the world. You can’t see it, you can’t question it, you must simply have faith in it. You are asked to sacrifice to your fellow man and to take your suffering as your award awaits you in the hereafter and while here the good lord will provide for his faithful. – to do otherwise is heresy, blasphemy and sin.

Then there is statism: a belief in a utopian society where the state is responsible for owning and distributing all that is created and all that is needed. You should not question it, and it does require a faith that those involved within it are upholding that same utopian ideal; From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. The state does ask you sacrifice (the first part) but also offers you assistance – dare we say to the ‘faithful’? To do otherwise is a crime against the state akin to treason.

Both ask of the individual selflessness and require duty to the whole. Both provide something somewhat intangible greater than one’s self for which they are to provide this sacrifice; for one the ‘state’ and the other the ‘almighty’.

So why then does statism bother me more than mysticism? It’s interesting now that I have stepped outside the blind ‘faith’ style of the Christians I find around me to look at many so-called ‘modern’ religions and to examine their ceremonies, rituals and methods of worship, to read in history how these developed to what they are today and to look also at how many christians (or other religions, but mind you were are talking about christians in the present) have looked upon other beliefs with their own rituals as ‘primitive’ or ‘superstitious’ – even barbaric in nature. As the tenor sings a can’t in the back and a man in a fancy robe with a pointy hat waves around his little ball of incense on a chain before offering his followers the symbolic flesh and blood of their savior I can’t help but stifle a chuckle at the hypocrisy.

But then where is God? (big ‘G’) I looked for him at many points in my life before coming to my current doubters perspective – believe me! (again, pun intended) God (big ‘G’) is this invisible man whom most say lives in the sky, he is all around us, he is responsible for everything, knows everything, sees everything. Yet no one can really prove he’s there to a reasoning individual with any level of certainty – at least one that does not also require a leap of faith.

So where is the state? The state ‘is’ all around us! Anyone that understands the least bit about causality knows that although they can – for the most part – control their own behavior, decisions and how they react to the consequences, the same cannot be said for the man (or woman) standing next to you.
As long as there are two or more people in a situation, each with their own needs, wants and desires, you will need some construct of ‘rules’ to govern their interactions with each other and with those things around them that they might need, want or desire. This would be nice and peachy in that idealistic (yet all too often unrealized) existence where everyone followed the rules all the time – but of course we know better.
Then comes the need for enforcement of the rules – enforcement that does not adversely support the needs, wants and desires of one individual over that of another. The combination of these rules and the enforcement of same sooner or later shows up as government and can be eventually found synonymous with ‘the state’.
So, therefore (using a little deductive reasoning here) as long as there are two more more people in a situation, each with their own needs wants and desires – the emergence of a governing entity that could be dubbed ‘the state’ is pretty much an inevitability.

In short? A lot of people believe in a god. A lot more believe in some type of statism. But the state is the only one that we can readily demonstrate having an immediate and incontrovertible effect upon our daily lives.

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leapWhy is it I so hate ‘that’ word? I run from it – I run away from it. I discount it, dismiss it. I revile it and spit on it! I cast it down and turn it out. I turn my back upon it and I won’t give it my attention.
But yet I can’t let go of the littlest part of it that still holds it somewhere near me.
It is part of hope, an ingredient of dreams. A source of inspiration. Or is it?
It’s also a road to destruction for those who embrace it fully. It causes blindness and leads to ignorance. It yields great intolerance and levels destruction. It is beyond ‘un-reason’ and fosters denial. Yet I still hold limply to it’s coat tail.
Perhaps to deny it is to admit fallibility. To completely denounce it is to face the inevitable, the unthinkable. “Some things you just won’t ever fully understand.” “Some things you can never fix!” “Sometimes there is just nothing you can do!” No, I refuse to believe…

Believe…

Yes, that’s it’s source, it’s energy, it’s core. Not the truth. Not the facts, not the way things really are, really can be, really should be. To ‘believe’ is not to fully ‘know’ – it’s nothing more than a guess, yet that is the basis of the damnable word! Not knowing, not actually seeing – simply ‘believing’.
Yet I refuse to believe there’s ever an instance where there’s nothing you can’t eventually understand. I refuse to believe there’s ever a situation that eventually can’t be fixed. I refuse to submit to something that I cannot do! Yes, I believe – I believe I do not believe in that forsaken word!

Damn that damnable word!!!!

(Can you guess the word? I ‘think’ you can!)

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