Uncommon Sense

September 27, 2021

Aw, Poor Rich Babies

Filed under: History,Morality,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:34 pm
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I was watching a show on the National Geographic Channel recently. I think the title was “Lost Treasures of Egypt—‘Pyramid Tomb Raiders’.” The gist of the show was to point out the elaborate lengths the builders of the Egyptian pyramids and tombs of all kinds took to prevent the tombs being robbed of the treasures they held. Poorer people were buried with bowls of beer and food and prized possessions that had only personal value. Robbers wouldn’t bother such tombs as there was nothing of value to steal by the time they got around to being able to rob them (certainly not enough to copmpensate them for their labor, digging up the ‘treasures”). But the really rich people included jewelry, death masks of silver and gold and other valuable goods that had considerable value when sold. Those tombs they would rob and rob them they did. The robbing proceeded to such an extent that finding a tomb that has not been robbed has been a very, very, rare occurrence (Tutankhamen’s tomb being one of the exceptions).

So, the wealthy hired architects and engineers to design clever ways to keep the robbers out, but the robbers beat them every time, through grit and determination (and insider information).

Part of the protections was, of course, religious. The tombs were declared to be sacred and “defiling them” would be punished by the gods. Ah, the elites, they love to put on airs and the religious officials love to help them. The officials performed ceremonies declaring the sites to be sacred and established curses to inflict anyone who had the temerity to disturb those graves.

Effing elites.

They got robbed any way. Poor babies.

I have a sure-fire scheme to eliminate grave robbing: don’t put anything worth stealing in your grave. Instead give away all of your gold and silver and jewels to the poor. And instead of building immense mausoleums, far bigger than is needed to house your earthly remains, build something modest, and the money you save could instead be used to built public works that benefit the people. Such things would make your name live on longer than the elaborate (and soon to be robbed) tombs.

My mother and other ancestors possessed fairly common wisdom, part of which she taught me. One part of that was “you can’t take it with you.” Those Egyptian elite assholes tried to take it with them, so they got robbed. Served them right. I am still amazed at the archeologists and such, modern tomb raiders who should know better, siding with elites, declaring all of the preserved bodies they find as being sacred remains. Sacred to whom? They don’t even believe in the gods that made them sacred in the first place any more. Such is the deference to the elites they drum into us.

An Open Letter to Anti-Vaxxers

Filed under: Culture,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 8:29 am
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As background, there has been for over a year now a global pandemic causing a considerable number of “extra deaths” and even more hospitalizations, discomfort, and pain. The number of total COVID-19 deaths is about 3 million or about 7 million depending on whose numbers you are using. Almost a million of those are in the US. (The flu typically kills 60,000 people or so in the US each flu seasons, so this disease has the flu beat all to hell and gone.)

In any case, no matter where this disease came from, it has caused many deaths and apparently also has inflicted long term symptoms upon a large number of people (my brother-in-law being one of them).

Under political pressure and by providing governmental funding, vaccines were developed in record time that have been proved somewhat effective. They significantly reduce the number of people getting the disease at all, and those who do anyway (94% effectiveness is 6% ineffectiveness), rarely get hospitalized or get the long term repercussions, or die from the disease, so these vaccines seems to be a good deal. In my neck of the woods, these vaccines were provided free of charge.

But many people like you have refused to get vaccinated, mostly because you look at it as an infringement of your personal freedom. Most of the rest of us consider this a bullshit excuse. All y’all haven’t complained that driving on the right side of the highway is an abridgement of your personal freedom. Nor paying taxes. There are many things we do for the common good. Childless citizens pay taxes to have other people’s children educated, as another example.

The only way I can convey what this sounds like to many people like me is through scenarios. So, let me “reframe” your refusal.

Scenario 1
Your ocean liner has sunk and you are floating in shark infested waters. I am in a lifeboat and reach out and offer you a hand, to get you into the boat to safety, out of the water. But you refuse because this is an infringement of your personal liberties. In the boat, you will not be able to choose where you go, with whom you travel, and a great many other things. So, you refuse my hand and stay in the water.

Scenario 2
It is the early 1800’s and you have packed your family and all of your goods into a Conestoga wagon and have four oxen pulling your wagon from St. Louis to Oregon were you will make a new life for you and your family. Along the trail, you see a wagon train, off in the distance, traveling roughly the same route you are and soon a lone rider approaches from that direction. The rider identifies himself as a member of that train and asks if you are headed the same way they are. When you say you are, they offer to let you join the train because there is safety in numbers. You refuse because this would infringe upon your personal freedom to go wherever and at whatever rate you choose. The rider shakes his head and rides back to the wagon train.

Scenario 3
You are in Europe during the peak of World War 2 and you are almost surrounded by Nazi troops. Some allied troops who are retreating from the oncoming Nazis offer to take you with them and protect you, but you refuse because that would infringe upon your personal liberties to be the “baggage” of some band of soldiers. Being ordered around by soldiers is not your idea of freedom.

None of these scenarios include an actual surrender of your personal liberty but I’ll tell you what will eliminate all of your personal liberties! Getting eaten by sharks will do the trick. Or being killed by Comancheros out on the plains. Or being killed by the oncoming Nazis, except your womenfolk that they will keep for the use of their soldiers.

We all possess personal liberties, part of which we surrender to society collectively. You seem to not want to surrender any of your personal liberties, in which case you should not receive the benefits of doing so, things like police protection, the protections of the laws and courts, public transportation systems, the electrical grid, water and sewage distribution systems, etc. You don’t get the benefits of society without some sacrifices. (If you think you are paying your own way, think again.)

Some of you claim that you are not getting vaccinated because your haven’t yet done your own research, or worse, you did your own research which came up negative. This is also a bullshit claim, because the odds that you are capable of doing vaccine research is almost zero. I am not talking about the laboratory work, but the reading of the mountains of literature that apply while being able to understand it. What you call “research” is reading or listening to what are called “news” publications. The people writing those articles are also not qualified to explain things to you.

Most of what I read in such reports is nonsense and worse. Even if the reporters are reputable, they will publish fragmentary reports instead of saying “there isn’t a coherent picture yet so we can’t report to you. So you get a little bit of this and a little bit of that, some of which is wrong because it hasn’t been verified and, most of it is premature which you have no way of evaluating, some of which is wild ass opinion used to sell news reports.

Plus, do you seek out reliable sources or just take what comes to you from Facebook and your local news broadcasts?

I suggest that what is keeping you from the relative safety of getting vaccinated is fear. This is understandable. But some the fears expressed are beyond the pale, for example, there are microchips in the vaccines so your location can be traced. If you were paying attention at all, currently if you have a smartphone near you (it doesn’t even have to be on or being used) your location can be determined in an instant. In any case, you have never been hard to find. Now we are told that “they” are hiding the vaccine in salad dressing . . . as if salads were your favorite foods. And one claim is that the vaccines will prevent young people from getting pregnant, as if that has ever happened in all of history.

You need to ask yourself what is the source of your fear. From whom did it come? Fear is being sold as a commodity to use as a political weapon and unscrupulous people have no problem in making you afraid of something at the drop of a hat. These same people have terrorized old white ladies through the fear of having their homes invaded by young black men. As if young black men would like nothing better than raping an old white lady (Eww!). The statistics tell us clearly that old white women are almost never raped by young black men, so the fear is unfounded . . . but is useful to racist politicians who are serving racist financial backers. Ironically, the same people that created this false fear will tell you that most black crime is black-on-black crime. It used to be the case that “you couldn’t have it both ways,” but in modern politics they are showing that you can.

I think the people who are deliberately promoting vaccine fear fraudulently should be strung up by there thumbs and whipped to within an inch of their lives. They are endangering you . . . and me . . . for political gain.

Go around and ask people what happened to them when they got vaccinated. That is research you can do. See if they began to be followed by black helicopters or men in black suits. See for yourself whether your fears are real or not. Living a life of fear sucks the joy out of life and doing it for someone else, someone you don’t even know, is foolhardy.

September 19, 2021

Rulers

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 9:21 am
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No, not the wooden sticks you chewed on in the fourth grade so they wouldn’t work at all as designed. I am talking about individuals who declare themselves to be in charge and order the rest of us around.

I am fascinated by rulers. Every one of them was absolutely certain that they had been chosen for the job because of their sterling characteristics, which was usually because Daddy was ruler before and it is only right to hand such chores down parent to child. But not always. Hitler was convinced he was the man for the job and his conviction was part of his personal power, power that got him elected and then accepted as a ruler, not just a politician.

But rulers are going away, you say? I think not. They have just changed location. Now that we have succumbed to rule by corporation (corporatism), making corporations lords of our government and culture, who are the corporate titans but dead ringers for the rulers of old.

How did we get to this point?

Many historians suggest that the idea of kings arose from war band leadership. War bands were outgrowths of hunting bands, which established some of the base parameters. A hunting band wanted to be led by the member who made the best decisions, the ones that put meat on the fire safely. Similarly, when “war,” actually just strife between two or more larger tribes broke out, the hunters, now warriors, wanted the most capable leaders in charge of the war band, otherwise an inept leader could get them their asses handed to them on a platter. And male egos being what they were, those positions were certainly contested.

But a war band leader wasn’t a leader over all, unless there was a continuous state of war, which there almost never was. The Vikings seems to keep their war band leaders in check, but many other cultures did not seem to do so. Large scale conflicts gave opportunities for leaders to demonstrate their leading abilities.

It seems a logical progression for a war band leader to cash in the personal loyalty of a cadre of warriors to take over a tribe and rule it despotically.

On a different career path with the same end, priests looked to use their standing with the gods to usurp such positions. There are quite a number of cultures that did not allow this to happen: shamen were kept on short leashes, religious leaders who failed to deliver the goods, ended up out in the bush on their own. But there were enough who grasped the prize of being the ruler of a tribe to set a model for others.

Take the early history of Christianity for example. In the early days, Christianity was dominated by charismatics and by those who got direct revelations from god. Other than that they were collectives of believers, meeting in people’s homes. But before long, people in those groups started giving themselves titles, such as bishop and deacon. A structure was created, a hierarchical structure unsurprisingly, and finally the separate branches of Christianity merged to make a hierarchy of centers of Christianity, which then proceeded to prune away those branches which did not take a knee in front of the orthodox powers. (This was done with violence as well as with politics.) The official histories claim that this was dome to preserve the purity of scripture, but I sincerely doubt that. It seems to have been done in a search for power over others. The unofficial titles of “father” and “papa” or “pope” usurped parental authority. Addressing people as “child” or as a member of a “flock” implied that they needed to be lead, etc. These wordings were no accidental.

Supporting all of this is a basic human yearning (I assume) to be led, to be guided by someone wiser, who would take the responsibility upon themselves rather than any of us having to do that. This lack of courage on the part of “the people” is quite common and it manifests in many ways, this being just one. We seem to embrace a passive role in our society, letting others determine what is important and what needs to be done and what does not.

A tiny minority of us, however, really want that ruler position. And it didn’t come easily. In order to be an effective ruler, you need to make sure the people got their bread and circuses, well at least their bread. And it was bread that gave us rulers. Prior to mastering grain crops, the “leaders” were specialists and temporary. Once a crop was grown which could be harvested, dried, and stored, then the ruler minority found its magic formula: coerce the agricultural labor of the masses to make grain, which was then “taxed,” aka confiscated, dried and stored. The dried grain could be used to feed the elites and to trade for other things. That the coercion worked, led to elite positions as coercers, aka guards, aka, muscle, aka thugs, aka tax collectors, etc. And once the coercion racket was showing to work, it was expanded.

Not that this was easy. The first Mesopotamian city-states rarely lasted more than a few decades before falling apart. But once the “ruler-types” got the taste in their mouths, they were hard to stop. And please do not assume this was the only way this happened, human variation will not be denied. (I would love to learn how Göbekli Tepe was founded.) Certainly other patterns existed for a time, but could not compete once this one got rolling.

The Purpose of Human Existence

Filed under: Culture,Philosophy,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 8:58 am
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I continue to write about this because I see questions galore on Quora and Medium about “the purpose of our existence at the material/physical level.” For some people just the miracle of our existence is insufficient, there must be a grand scheme behind the scenes that we are helping to fulfill.

Allow me to throw a bucket of cold water on this idea through a favorite tool of Albert Einstein’s: the thought experiment.

Here is how it goes: for a period of 24 hours, human beings disappear and leave no trace. Along with us disappearing, so does all of our superstitious claptrap: souls, ghosts, etc. . . . all gone, but for just 24 hours.

What purpose or purposes do you think would exist once we were gone? I suggest “all gone.” Of course if we left behind written records alien archeologists could decipher them and discern that we believed we had a purpose in the universe. When they stopped laughing, they would recognize that our species hadn’t really been around for long when it fell.

Before the 24 hours elapses and we come back, ask yourself: how would the rest of the universe be affected by our disappearance? I hope you would see that there would be no effect of any note on the rest of the universe.

Purposes are things we invent. We invent them for ourselves, as individuals, and sometimes we band together in groups around a shared purpose. Shared purposes can also be very large, such as winning a total war in your country against an invading force, but it takes a large number of people to shape that purpose and keep it going.

The desire that there be some outside purpose for the existence of humanity as a whole, is the wish for there to be some supernatural agent which will take responsibility, rather than us taking responsibility for ourselves, as it were. Which of these two beliefs is the child-like one? Is it any wonder that so many religions ask you to “become like a child,” because if you do, then you de facto accept a belief in the existence of that deity, all because you didn’t want to take responsibility for yourself and for a few people around you.

The seeking for a grand overall purpose for all this is an egotistical juvenile search. If you just look at your life openly you will see that you have many purposes you have created all by yourself: you have the purpose of being a good parent, for example, or an exemplary worker, or a purpose to make a shitload of money, or a purpose to be the best player at you local poker game, or. . . . If you have a goal and act upon it, you have a purpose. If you want a purpose, establish a goal and start acting upon it. Go around and tell people your purpose(s) and you may even find people who share one of them and will help you meet it.

Should you decide to search out the grand overall purpose of humanity, be sure to wear your diapers.

September 18, 2021

Lies and Truths

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Reason — Steve Ruis @ 12:57 pm
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Consider the following quotations:

“(T)he question of their necessity (trade unions) is really superfluous. As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people’s health.

“Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.”

“For in politics, as in other fields, the use of economic pressure always permits blackmail, as long as the necessary unscrupulousness is present on the one side, and sufficient sheep-like patience on the other.”

“Otherwise he (a nascent politician) runs the risk of either having to change his former position on essential questions, or, contrary to his better knowledge and understanding, of clinging to a view which reason and conviction have long since discarded. In the former case this is most embarrassing to him personally, since, what with his own vacillations, he cannot justifiably expect the faith of his adherents to follow him with the same unswerving firmness as before; for those led by him, on the other hand, such a reversal on the part of the leader means perplexity and not rarely a certain feeling of shame toward those whom they hitherto opposed. In the second case, there occurs a thing which, particularly today, often confronts us: in the same measure as the leader ceases to believe in what he says, his arguments become shallow and flat, but he tries to make up for it by vileness in his choice of means. While he himself has given up all idea of fighting seriously for his political revelations (a man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in), his demands on his supporters become correspondingly greater and more shameless until he ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a ‘politician’; in other words, the kind of man whose only real conviction is lack of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying, often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.”

“If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament, we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now on consist in nothing but an heroic struggle for the permanent possession of his feeding-bottle for himself and his family. The more his wife and children depend on it, the more tenaciously he will fight for his mandate. This alone will make every other man with political instincts his personal enemy.”

Comments of the Trump era or on our current politics?

Actually these are attributed to Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf, which he wrote in 1924. He was by no means done creating himself, so his opinions may have changed over the next twenty years. It is hard to say.

Many people refuse to read this book, as they assume it is all lies. I argue that were it all lies it would have had little traction with the German people. Yes, there were plenty of lies and misconceptions and errors of thought, but there are also many observations that seem as true today as they were a century ago. Hitler also has a disarming way of admitting he had been wrong, many, many times, but that may have been a ruse to establish a position of “I may have been wrong back then, but I am dead right now.” Again, hard to tell. It is rare to get into the mind of a ruler, so books such as this one, Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, and a few others are worth reading.

September 17, 2021

The Power of Prayer

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:03 pm
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I saw a powerful photograph of NYFD’s Chaplain Mychal Judge’s body being carried out of the wreckage after 9/11. He insisted on staying in the lobby of the East Tower to pray for all of the valiant firemen and policemen working to evacuate the building. He called upon Jesus and God to “end this now.”

Of course, the building fell on him, killing him.

Death by irony, apparently.

So many people, good at heart, dying from delusions. Could not his prayers be heard if delivered outside? Did God think that people wanted more destruction and chaos and that He should “bring it on,” such that prayers were needed as a kind of poll, to get Him to change His mind? Ah, it is a mystery.

As for rewards coming in Heaven, apparently the good priest is being lined up for sainthood. (Don’t hold your breath, as he was gay.)

September 16, 2021

Fact or Fiction: The United States Are Controlled by Satan-Worshiping Pedophiles Who Run a Global Child Sex-Trafficking Operation?

This sounds like a SNL skit or an article for The Onion, but according to a newly released survey, 15 percent of Americans agree with the false premise central to the QAnon movement that government, media, and financial worlds in the United States are controlled by Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation.

The finding is contained in a Public Religion Research Institute study released last Thursday based on interviews of more than 5,000 U.S. adults in March.

Polling that relies on agree/disagree questions can overstate the extent to which respondents actually hold such beliefs, but the survey nevertheless underscores that the allegations of the QAnon movement have been embraced by a significant number of Americans.

In the survey, 23 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement. By contrast, 8 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of independents agreed with the statement.

Well, those data would be concerning if you assumed that the respondents are serious. Currently I do not.

Americans currently contain a large component which wishes to throw a monkey wrench into “the system” as it currently is, and that system includes the all too haughty polls conduced by “pollsters.”

For example, I feel that political polls turn our elections into contests, the most used term is “into horse races.” Consequently when I receive a phone call or an email message asking for me to share my opinions, I decline. “Thanks, I don’t do polls.”

A less passive response would be to answer their questions and give the most effed-up responses one could dream up and this is what I think is going on.

This is, I suspect, in response to the government using lies and propaganda to “control the population” to the point that it has little to no credibility left.

Take the UFO issue as an example. We now know that the government/military set up programs to obfuscate, lie, and mislead the public over and over and over. When this was finally admitted, was anyone really surprised? Were you surprised?

The lying has become so brazen that politicians will say one thing yesterday and the opposite today and when this is pointed out to them, they shrug “Fake news!” We’ve been getting gaslighted by our own government for so long it no longer causes outrage or even draws comment.

The Apostle Paul vehemently said, in his own writings (we think), that “I am not a liar!” Apparently back then, being a liar had consequences. Now it seems to be only a qualification for becoming a politician.

Footnote on Irony It is now recognized that fear is the strongest lever in the propagandist’s toolbox. So, why was the lame excuse used in all of those UFO sightings, that the public wasn’t ready for the truth. I can’t think of any better lever for the ruling class to use than the fear of aliens. Turning human politicians into “Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global child sex-trafficking operation” seems peanuts compared to what one could claim to be the “alien threat.” Imagine the fears: They eat human babies! (They must be atheists.) They claim to have proof that their gods exist! They want to move here! They are fleeing a way more powerful alien species! Their penises are enormous and their sexual appetite for human girls is unbounded! . . . and on and on.

Controlling that narrative would be easy. The “authorities” could spend money up the yin-yang to deal with the alien threat. Military contractors would be sending their neighbor’s kids to prestigious colleges, they would be so “rolling in it.”

Funny they didn’t think of that then, but maybe their new “transparency” on the issue is just the first salvo in such a campaign, finding that the old levers aren’t as effective as they once were.

September 13, 2021

Collective Unconscious . . . or Collected Unconscious?

The philosopher/psychiatrist Carl Jung’s contribution to the “transcendental” aspects of out lives was the “discovery” of the collective unconscious.

What exactly this is is often dependent on who is describing it. One author describes it thusly: “This layer contains the accumulated historical, collective experiences of humanity. It is … the psychology of the instincts of humanity.” When asked what the contents of this collective aspect of the mind are his answer was that they “relate to the common experiences of humanity. They are the mental component of the instincts.”

Uh, okay.

It seems impossible to write about the contents of Jung’s collective unconscious without once mentioning the word archetypes. This word literally means “original types,” and is therefore considered to mean “some kind of plan which organizes causal factors, operating from a metaphysical dimension of the collective unconscious, shaping life at the material level.”

This was considered by many to be Jung’s most significant contribution to the understanding of the unconscious psyche. (I love the fact that the word psyche stems from a word meaning “breath,” likely derived from the “breath of life.” It has also been equated with the word soul, which I find ironic in that therefore a soul is just hot air.)

The reason I labeled Jung as a philosopher/psychiatrist is that he seems to be desirous of resurrection Plato’s forms, including a quasi-transcendent realm in which they exist.

The existence of “unconscious minds” is accepted today with little quarrel. It encompasses all of the mental activities, mental skills, and what have you, that we are unaware of as they operate. The use of “brain scanners” (fMRI, etc.) has brought us the first real data we can use to study these activities. For example, we now know that imagining an image utilizes the same brain regions as seeing an actual image, even when we are dreaming.

But imparting special powers to these “realms” is not at all supported. So, cataloging things that our unconscious minds can do may find that we share certain abilities in common, after all we are using the same hardware, does not imply any connectivity at all. There is a great deal unaccounted for when children are trained first by their parents and then by their teachers. And, of course, people take Jung’s work run off making claims such as “we are all connected,” or “we are all one,” and even “the universe is conscious and we are just motes in that consciousness.”

I would be shocked to not find commonalities in our unconscious mental abilities. And we can collect this information but does that imply a “collective” unconscious? I think not. In Jung’s time he did not have the tools we have now and we may yet discover such a thing, but it will hinge, I am sure, on what mechanism allows one unconscious mind to connect to others to make a collective possible.

I think such conclusions are hugely premature, driven by a strange to me desire on the part of many fellow humans that there be a “transcendent realm,” or collection of things that transcend reality. I can’t think of anything more steeped in superstition and con artistry. The ideas of heavens and hells, after lives of various other sorts, fairy realms, etc. The idea of a “life after life” couldn’t be more contradictory. The idea of reincarnation is also rife with transcendent tomfoolery. Where are souls stored before they are recycled? What the heck is a soul? Who operates the machinery? etc. (As a teacher, I found reincarnation very attractive in that if you didn’t learn your lessons, you had to repeat a grade, or grades(!), until you did!)

The idea of something, anything, transcending reality is so potent an idea that it takes collected unconscious abilities and elides them over to collective unconscious abilities, almost whether that makes any sense at all.

If Jung hadn’t have done it, casual readers surely would.

If these people had a theme song, I suspect it would be this:

Is That All There Is?
I remember when I was a little girl, our house caught on fire
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face as he gathered me up
In his arms and raced through the
Burning building out on the pavement

And I stood there shivering in my pajamas
And watched the whole world go up in flames
And when it was all over I said to myself
Is that all there is to a fire?

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And when I was twelve years old
My daddy took me to the circus, the greatest show on Earth
There were clowns and elephants and dancing bears
And a beautiful lady in pink tights flew high above our heads

And as I sat there watching
I had the feeling that something was missing
I don’t know what, but when it was over I said to myself
Is that all there is to the circus?

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

And then I fell in love
With the most wonderful boy in the world
We’d take long walks by the river or
Just sit for hours gazing into each other’s eyes
We were so very much in love
Then one day he went away and I thought I’d die, but I didn’t
And when I didn’t I said to myself
Is that all there is to love?

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is, my friends, then let’s keep

I know what you must be saying to yourselves
If that’s the way she feels about it why doesn’t she just end it all?
Oh, no, not me, I’m not ready for that final disappointment
Because I know just as well as I’m standing here talking to you
That when that final moment comes and I’m
Breathing my last breath, I’ll be saying to myself

Is that all there is, is that all there is?
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Leiber Jerry / Stoller Mike

September 12, 2021

Knowing the Mind of God is Beyond Our Capacity

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:39 am
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You have heard and/or read this before, no? It usually comes out of a mouth of someone who is about to tell you what God wants from you . . . and why.

Nonetheless, we could look at this statement a little closer. For example, how could one possibly know this?

One could try and try to “know God” and fail, but what if those tries were half-hearted or wrong-minded? Maybe the next try would work. And maybe other people tried and were successful, just you did and weren’t.

Often enough, the response to “How could you possibly know this?” is “God told me,” either though direct revelation of revelation through Biblical writings. But what if your god was wrong about this? “God is never wrong.” How could you possibly know this? “God told me.” Obviously this approach will not get us anywhere with true believers.

So, we switch gears.

I ask, “If your god wanted us to know him, would then we know him?” The answer must be “yes,” otherwise this god is not all-powerful as claimed. Therefore we can conclude that “knowing god is beyond our capacity” is not a bug but a feature, that is the way this god wants things to be.

So, why would such a god hide his True Nature™ from us? Obviously such a god would not fear anything that might be a consequence, so it is being done for a reason. The religious apologists at this point are lining up with their hands raised (I know, teacher, I know!). They would make up stuff like “knowing god would be so overwhelming that it would kill us,” or “our minds are so puny that they would have to distort god’s true essence to make it conceivable,” and so on. None of this is anything but made up yada-yada designed to get their god off of the hook and should be consigned to the far edges of this conversation. Their suggestions have neither evidence nor meaning.

The real reason that such statements are bullstuff is that they were all made up based upon the whims of an ancient Palestinian improvisation troupe. Because someone else advanced the narrative in an untenable way doesn’t allow the next performer to correct all of the wrong things and substitute better things. The previous has to be folded in as if to say, “yes, we meant that all along.” But what you end up with in the end is rife with errors and contradictions and downright nonsense.

For example, one of the “acceptable” Jesus narratives has him wandering around Jerusalem for forty days after his execution, drawing large crowds and the Romans neither get wind of this nor take any action whatsoever. A more realistic scenario is that the Romans hear of this immediately (through their substantial spy network), suspect either a hoax or an imposter is involved and, to keep the peace, swoop down, gather up this Jesus character, and nail him up for good. Now that would be believable. What is claimed to have taken place is sheer nonsense. And some of the believers will then claim that that shows the story to be true, because it couldn’t have happened without divine intervention. See? Nonsense.

If one actually takes a step back and looks at the overall narrative, human beings are supposed to declare themselves to be slaves to Yahweh/Jesus (accepting Jesus as their Lord and Master, etc.) and are supposed to yearn to live in a country that is ruled by Yahweh/Jesus and His intermediaries as absolute monarchs. No voting, no democracy, no participation by citizens. All human beings are transformed into “subjects” of their realms and will do as they are told or suffer the consequences.

This is desirable? By whom? The only people who want to be cared for in toto would want to have this Sugar Daddy in charge of their lives. Basically, there is no amount of misery that would make these people make a decision on their own. Heaven forbid . . . and it would.

Knowing God is beyond our capacity is true only in the sense that it is made up nonsense that defies understanding. This claim is no different from “Knowing Aslan is beyond our capacity.” It is a feature, not a bug. Aslan is depicted as a talking lion, and is described as the King of Beasts, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and the King above all High Kings in Narnia. Prove this is wrong, if you can!

If God Does Not Exist, Everything Is Permitted

Filed under: Morality,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:30 am
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“If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” This quote from The Brothers Karamazov (by Dostoevsky) is frequently invoked by those who believe in God. Without faith in a god which lays down the rules, their argument goes, we are doomed. “How could we possibly know the difference between good and evil without God,” they ask. (Apparently they haven’t read Genesis 1-2)

But . . . is it so?

If you look at European culture as it has been spread around the world as “western civilization,” has any act of depravity not been observed to have been enacted by Christians? I could have asked if any act of depravity not been enacted by Christians in service to Christianity, and the argument would have been no weaker, but I am sticking to generalities.

Those who “fear God,” as Christians claim, seem to have committed the most egregious acts, so where did the permission come from to do those things? (I can hear the apologists lining up to claim “No true Christian would have . . .” but that is clearly not true.)

Well, maybe it is not so much a matter of kind but of extent. Maybe far fewer atrocities have been committed because of this god’s restrictions. Here we have a lot of good data from around the world: basically, the more religious a country is, the higher the rate of crime, including assaults, murders, etc.

What about states within the United States? Again, when it comes to nearly all standard measures of societal health: homicide rates, violent crime rates, poverty rates, domestic abuse rates, obesity rates, educational attainment, funding for schools and hospitals, teen pregnancy rates, rates of sexually transmitted diseases, unemployment rates, domestic violence, etc. the correlation is solid: the least religious states in America tend to fare much, much better than the most religious.

Correlation is not causation, of course, but there is no evidence for the contrary opinion that those who do not accept god belief are less moral, because all of the data points the other way.

I guess I should point out that Dostoevsky was writing fiction and he was putting those words into a character’s mouth for a reason. If the character were a naïve, young, newly-converted Christian, they would mean one thing. If they were in the mouth of an authoritarian government official, they would mean another thing, no? (Authoritarians love them some authoritarian religion, as it removes blame off of them and onto some deity.)

On top of this, consider Yahweh’s list of permissions. No such thing? Okay, then Jesus’ list of permissions. Again, no such thing. Drat this is hard.

They did say “do unto others what you would have them do unto you,” but what if you are a masochist and like being humiliated and beaten with whips? And most cultures do not list the “golden rule” this way, they list it as what has been called the “silver rule:” do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you. (The assignment of precious metals here was obviously done by a Christian as gold is universally held in higher esteem than silver.) But, the majority of the cultures favor the silver rule formulation. They are telling us what is not permitted, as opposed to telling us what we are permitted.

If only permitted things could be done, we would still be living in caves or grass huts. The operative principle in our culture is “it is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” Basically, if you try something that hasn’t been “permitted” and it works, you will automatically be forgiven, so it is better to not ask for permission as it might be withheld.

And, think about it. If one is only allowed to do “permitted” things, one is a totalitarian subject. Again, this is part of the control mechanism which is this religion, part of the “obedience above all else” ethos embedded within it.

How would you like to have to solicit permission before doing anything? Would you resent that? I think you would, as it is an enforced child-like position you are forced into. You have no personal autonomy. (I remember refugees coming from Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union, and they showed zero initiative. They had been trained to wait for orders. They were nice young people by the way, just trained differently.)

Of course, there is still the debate over what is permitted in Christianity and what is not. Go back a couple of hundred years and slavery is permitted, even supported by various Christian religions. Today, slavery still exists but is considered illegal everywhere. Did Yahweh/Jesus change his mind as to what is permitted? If this happens again, how will we know? Are we supposed to accept the word of Christian officials? They do not exactly have a good track record.

The statement above is either vacuous or no longer has any meaning, if it ever did. It is being used as cannon fodder, being fed to Christian soldiers as if it were real ammunition, rather than blanks.

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