Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘reason’

In the aftermath of the Catholic-condom scandal, I think I’ve come upon a clue as to how things work in America. So I have an idea. If you can put sufficient pressure on the government simply because you belong to a religion (in spite of the 1st amendment establishment clause) then perhaps instead of fighting religions we should follow the “if you can’t beat them, join them!” creedo.

It’s about time those of us that seek to understand reality by way of rational and objective observation of fact, find a way to get equal protection under the laws that seem to be becoming more and more inclined to pander to religious pressure.

Since religions always seem to have pretentious, hoity-toity names, thus I bring you….

Independent ManThe Manifest Cognizance of the Evident Percipience

As members of the MCEP, we believe that it is essential to our spiritual wholeness that each man or woman should be held accountable for meeting his or her own responsibilities. Each one of us accumulates a sum of these invisible, non-corporeal things known as ‘concepts’. And among these includes a special sub-sect known as OESWs. (objective evidence of self-worthiness)

These OESWs are essential to the mental condition of humans as spiritual beings. They improve one’s mood and increase motivation, help overcome depression and inspire achievement. A low quantity of OESWs tends to leave individuals susceptible to hoaxes, lies, misrepresentations, frauds and can lead to dependency, drug use, suicide, alcoholism, violent behavior and many other social maladies.

The view of the MCEP is that there is no greater moral sin than to willfully act in a manner or to participate in any action that will lead to a decrease of OESWs in themselves or in other human beings.  Therefore, it is strongly against our conceptual belief system to support, participate or otherwise contribute to any government programs (such as welfare, medicare, medicaid, social security, unemployment programs, foreign aid, minority endowments, social redistribution, public housing, public education, etc.) that will only serve to decrease the quantity of these OESWs in other human beings and therefore do them harm!

(feel free to suggest your own tenets of MCEP in comments)

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

How many times have you ever heard someone say that they want a love that is unconditional?  That love itself is selfless?  Has no strings attached?  No preconditions?  I say hogwash!

First off, most people that tell you this are generally people who are telling you what they ‘desire’ in a loving partner. The same people will tell you that love itself is a form of desire. Yet ‘desire’ is a form of want and want a matter of selfishness.

When someone is describing the ‘kind of love’ they desire (want) they are essentially telling you what their selfish desires are. Thus it is a bit odd when their ‘selfish’ desire is to find someone ‘selfless’.  Furthermore, when they describe such a partner, it is generally implied that they have the full intention of offering the same kind of ‘un-conditional’ love in return.

Emotions

Love is of course an emotion. I was a big fan of Leo Buscaglia growing up for a number of reasons. He used to host various television shows and series on the topic of love as well as published a number of books on the subject which I read. Buscaglia described love as a ‘learned’ emotion and discouraged people from using terms such as ‘falling in’ and ‘out’ of love. In fact, he often went on to describe most if not all emotions as being ‘learned behaviors’ and I share this way of thinking.

Consider this. Our minds are rather complex mechanisms that process various stimuli and information on a number of different levels. As we go through our lives our minds create concepts to allow us to sort through the various individual and combined sensory data that our various sensory organs collect for us. For more complex combinations of multiple concepts, our minds will create an amalgam as a new concept. For example when we see a fist sized white leather ball with red stitching we think ‘baseball‘ rather than ‘fist sized white leather ball with red stitching‘.

In our early years we are taught many concepts before we can attach words to those concepts and many of these concepts are the fundamental building blocks on which the rest of our lives will act out. Various schools of psychology place a great deal of emphasis on this early development as key factors in the formation of our personalities and traits. Many of our concepts for emotions are formed at this time in the manner of the way a foundation is formed under a house, and we build upon those concepts over our lives.  But how often do we stop to look at what that foundation is actually made of?

Emotions themselves are learned behaviors and responses, often quite complex combinations of multiple multiple sensory data that relates to either past experiences (concept formation) or to notions we have formed through our process of learning (fantasy scenarios).  If you are told over and over and over again that Love is a magical feeling and is some kind of mystical state of bliss, if you hear or see many stories told in books and movies about fantasy love scenarios that make you feel good (remind you of past experiences or fantasies) you will incorporate those into your fuzzy-wuzzy feel good conceptualization of ‘love’.

Then when you meet someone who’s behaviors and interactions inspires enough of those many many combined concepts that helped you build your notion of love combined with your own excitement, or apprehension, nervousness, shyness, sexual arousal or other factors – woah, it feels like those concepts your brain pieced together over the years! This must be love!!!

You so want love to be ‘magical’, like you have been told over and over and over again, that you don’t stop to realize you have been hyperventilating and your adrenaline is spiking as you are trying to work up the nerve to ask that cute girl for a kiss.  You conform to your concept and believe it to be ‘real’ magic.

Love is a Concept

When in fact you step back and look at all the various factors of what you both believe and think are parts of what love actually ‘is’, if you are honest enough with yourself and thorough enough in the integrity of your reduction of the concept as you know it, you will find that in fact it is based on real factors.  Factors that are for the most part based on things that you consider of benefit to you, but in some cases that you were either convinced were something they aren’t or that may even be irrational in nature.

So if love is just another amalgam of multiple concepts, then you can not only rationally approach the concept but you can strive to both control it and seek to maximize it.  As an ethical egoist, my suggestion of course is to optimize it rationally to your maximum benefit.

So is Love really Un-Conditional?

As I described above, most people that describe love as unconditional ‘seek’ out that form of love.  i.e. they desire it.  They place as a condition, the pre-requisite that the person they seek shares their (flawed) view on what love is.  And upon doing so, they do so by way of selfish reasoning!  The sad part is, that means they are half way there – but they never quite make it the rest of the way.

The truth is that none of us would really ‘want’ a ‘selfless’ love or for someone to love us ‘unconditionally’. For someone to do so absolutely without condition it would mean they gain no individual benefit from doing what is considered ‘loving behavior’ whatsoever.  Just stop and think what this really means:

  • They are not with you because they ‘want’ to be with you, but out of a sense of duty to their concept of what ‘love’ is.
  • They don’t do things for you because they desire you to be happy, but because they feel obliged to do it.
  • They cannot have any pre-conceived notions at all of what ‘they’ think is right or even what ‘you’ think is right. For you to ‘want’ is just as ‘conditional’ as for them

Does it sound a bit robotic?  A tad idiotic?  It’s being mutual slaves out of obligation to self-sacrifice. It makes you ponder that the ultimate ‘unconditional love’ is a suicide pact.  Who wants that?

As for me, I ‘want’ a selfish lover. And I seek to be a selfish lover. When I am with someone, I desire someone that I ‘want’ to be with and take great ‘joy’ in being with them – and them with me.  I selfishly crave a partner that greedily craves my company. I willfully desire to offer of myself to them in exchange for their offering of themselves to me.  I want them to be happy, because it brings me joy for them to be that way. And I fully expect them to meet my pre-condition of seeing love the same way.

Read Full Post »

Some time ago I stumbled upon a picture on the internet of a sign in front of a church somewhere.  Below is the picture of the sign:

I posted a copy of this sign to a folder dedicated to such things on my Facebook profile to show an example of the absurdity sometimes exhibited by religious logic.  I saw it as an example of such absurdity due to the inherent flaws in this kind of a statement.

Well, this morning as I was on my way to the grocery store I saw that one of the local Churches along the way has apparently found it admirable to emulate this sign and now bears a similar message.  (I will try to get a photo of it tomorrow to replace this one in my facebook as well as possibly to add to this blog post – first hand evidence is always superior to the anecdotal kind)

I figured as long as I am going to be going by that way to take the photo anyway, it might be worthwhile to drop a quick note to the pastor to let him know that his posting of the message may not have the desired effect(s) he intended.  The following is the text I am considering sending in such a letter if I do decide to leave one behind:

To whom it may concern,

  I couldn't help but notice that the marquis sign
in front of  your Church is emulating a message
that has been making the rounds of the internet
by way of a similar sign seen in front of a
small Presbyterian church in eastern Ontario.

  I think it may be of value to inform you that this
message may not have the intended result you desire
for a couple of reasons, not the least of which are
two inherent flaws in the statement itself.  Flaws
that any reasonable person should quickly realize.
  To address the flaws first, let me begin with
the obvious one of the two.  Google is not an
'answer' engine, Google a search engine.
  Although I understand the intent of the message,
the way it is worded immediately jumps out to me
as inaccurate. I realize the intention is to
say that there are some things that can't be
answered by 'using' google, but then why not
instead have the sign read:

 "SOME QUESTIONS EVEN USING Google CAN'T ANSWER" ?

The second flaw in the statement is a fallacy
that is implied when putting such a message out
in front of a Church like yours.  The implication
being that the Bible and the Church 'can' answer
such questions.
  I will not speak to my own opinion as to whether
or how well notions of faith and belief in God
may or may not answer such questions, but I
shall address the fallacy of this implication.
  This is a typical "Because Not A, therefore B"
type argument and is a fallacy.  Using such
reasoning, one could just as easily imply:
"because you cannot find all the answers on
 Google, therefore you 'can' by way of Astrology"
  or "...asking a stranger on the street"
  or "...flipping to a random page in the nearest book"
  Because you cannot find all the answers using
Google does not automatically equate that you
can through any suggested alternative.  Any such
alternative still needs to establish that it is
not only a consistent and valid source of such
answers, but by way of that wording, that it is
an all inclusive source of such answers as well.

Again, it is not my desire to hash out whether or not
the Bible or a Church does this.  But with both of
these flaws addressed, I would like to point out one
other possible 'effect' that you might not have
considered.
  As I stated, any reasonable person can quickly
see one if not both of these flaws.  Any reasonably
connected person (on the internet) may well have
seen this sign's message and thus realize your's
is not original, but flattery through imitation.
But have you also considered that it might be seen
as 'self-righteousness' on the part of the religious
or your particular parish?  (if I am not correct,
self-righteousness is discouraged in Christian
doctrine as a form of vanity, is it not?)

What do I mean by this?  If you examine the two
flaws, and if you consider it plausible for people to
discern them, then it is not a leap to consider
that only people who already believe
'God and the Bible 'do' have all the answers'
will be the most likely people to agree with such
a statement on face value.
  In other words, the wording will likely not 'convince'
anyone that is not already convinced.  If it's not
there to convince anyone (or, if convincing them
was an intention but is one that will not be likely
to achieve such a desired purpose) then what other
purpose can the message serve other than to
'brag' or 'boast' about the about religion/church's
self-perceived ability to be the sole source of
answers to such questions?

In other words, for a reasonable person capable of
critical thinking, your sign might actually turn
people away from the idea of turning to the
church for answers.
  Just some thoughts for you to consider.

Sincerely,

one of your friendly neighborhood atheists...

P.S.  I thought it might also be of interest to
  you to know that I have a copy of this sign that
  I post as an example of the flaws of religious
  logic - due to very the two things I mentioned.

And I don’t think it’s a leap to consider that the two reasons I mentioned are also part of the reason the original version from Ontario has gotten such circulation on the internet.

Read Full Post »

Free e-text version:
http://www.literature.org/authors/burroughs-edgar-rice/tarzan-of-the-apes/

Free audiobook version:
http://librivox.org/tarzan-of-the-apes/

I always liked Burroughs. I read some of the Mars, Venus and even a little Pellucidar. I regret not having read this series sooner! Great objective examination from a very unique perspective. A child left to mature to manhood among apes – and excelling through not only his body but his power of reason!

But there was that which had raised him far above his fellows of the jungle–that little spark which spells the whole vast difference between man and brute–Reason.

Opinion was divided as to the bravery of the king of beasts –some maintaining that he was an arrant coward, but all agreeing that it was with a feeling of greater security that they gripped their express rifles when the monarch of the jungle roared about a camp at night.

D’Arnot and Tarzan had agreed that his past be kept secret, and so none other than the French officer knew of the ape-man’s familiarity with the beasts of the jungle.

“Monsieur Tarzan has not expressed himself,” said one of the party. “A man of his prowess who has spent some time in Africa, as I understand Monsieur Tarzan has, must have had experiences with lions–yes?”

“Some,” replied Tarzan, dryly. “Enough to know that each of you are right in your judgment of the characteristics of the lions–you have met. But one might as well judge all blacks by the fellow who ran amuck last week, or decide that all whites are cowards because one has met a cowardly white.

“There is as much individuality among the lower orders, gentlemen, as there is among ourselves. Today we may go out and stumble upon a lion which is over-timid–he runs away from us. To-morrow we may meet his uncle or his twin brother, and our friends wonder why we do not return from the jungle. For myself, I always assume that a lion is ferocious, and so I am never caught off my guard.”

“There would be little pleasure in hunting,” retorted the first speaker, “if one is afraid of the thing he hunts.”

D’Arnot smiled. Tarzan afraid!

“I do not exactly understand what you mean by fear,” said Tarzan. “Like lions, fear is a different thing in different men, but to me the only pleasure in the hunt is the knowledge that the hunted thing has power to harm me as much as I have to harm him. If I went out with a couple of rifles and a gun bearer, and twenty or thirty beaters, to hunt a lion, I should not feel that the lion had much chance, and so the pleasure of the hunt would be lessened in proportion to the increased safety which I felt.”

“Then I am to take it that Monsieur Tarzan would prefer to go naked into the jungle, armed only with a jackknife, to kill the king of beasts,” laughed the other, good naturedly, but with the merest touch of sarcasm in his tone.

“And a piece of rope,” added Tarzan.

Just then the deep roar of a lion sounded from the distant jungle, as though to challenge whoever dared enter the lists with him.

“There is your opportunity, Monsieur Tarzan,” bantered the Frenchman.

“I am not hungry,” said Tarzan simply.

The men laughed, all but D’Arnot. He alone knew that a savage beast had spoken its simple reason through the lips of the ape-man.

“But you are afraid, just as any of us would be, to go out there naked, armed only with a knife and a piece of rope,” said the banterer. “Is it not so?”

“No,” replied Tarzan. “Only a fool performs any act without reason.”

Read Full Post »

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!)

Read Full Post »

Can anyone explain something to me? What’s going on in my head the past few days is more than just pangs from a change (end) of a relationship. I find myself asking all too many questions that seem to boil down to the same two struggling principles. I run through my head any number of scenarios that all boil down to the same thing. Let me see if I can describe it and then see what kind of answers may come back.
I’ll try to keep it as concise as possible, but I’m sure this is a subject I could write an entire volume upon. I find my mind tossling between almost pure reason and pure emotion lately – almost a fatalistic tug-of-war over the last few days especially. I look around me at the rest of the world and see the same thing – different forces pushing each; whether it be science versus religion, male ego vs. female heart, right brain vs. left.
I see movies talk about the virtues of each outlook – one glorifying the dreamer, the other glorifying the beautiful mind. People write songs about Van Gogh who took his own live “as dreamers often do” but then hold up the great works of Da Vinci who managed to laugh in the face of foolishly vain men of God.
My entire life I have had this war ongoing within myself. At different times there has been one side or another that has dominated for certain periods of time. Go too far into emotion and you are can be seen as weak and a target for evil folk. Go too far into reason and you are simply cold and calculating like the Vulcans of Roddenberry’s stories.
Don’t get me wrong – I know that the real world is some mix somewhere in the middle. Perhaps I should go find a text on buddhism and learn about the whole yin-yang concept. But where in the world do you find a balance? How in the hell do you find your own point of equilibrium in the middle of that scale? My dreamer’s mind trying to tell me that love can overcome anything, my reasonable mind saying that love is just another emotion and that reality sometimes deems otherwise. My romantic self thinking anything is possible if you simply want it bad enough to be, my calculating self saying essentially the same thing but knowing that it’s not a matter of wishing but of perserverance and hard work?

You know the old saying – it takes 2 to tango. How can you risk truly giving your heart to someone when there’s the real chance that it’s going to be sent back un-opened? Or worse, roughly used and stomped on. And if you tread lightly, going with caution, taking great care giving of self with the heart as one of the last things given over completely is there not a real chance that they may give up or go away if that’s the part they really desired first?

And where in the hell do you find someone who will put up with your stupid ass while you find that happy medium?

Read Full Post »