Class Warfare Blog

October 19, 2020

Intelligent Design . . . Right . . .

Filed under: Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:31 pm
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Some claim that all order in nature is due to them being designed by some sort of intelligent designer. Here is an example.

This photo isn’t of an abstract painting. It’s a portrait of the crystals that form after two amino acids — L-glutamine and beta-alanine — were heated in a solution made of ethanol and water. One of the compounds, L-glutamine, is a building block for proteins and ensures that the immune system can function. The other, beta-alanine, helps with muscle endurance.

Look carefully. This phantasmagoric image was created by amino acids forming crystals all on their own.

Nature is self-organizing. This is not an article of faith. It is an observation.

Photo by Justin Zoll of Ithica, New York.

October 11, 2020

The War Between Religion and Science

Filed under: Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:03 pm
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Plenty has been written on this topic, including by me. It is interesting as there really isn’t anything that can be called “religion” or really “science” for that matter. There are not real things.

Science is what scientists do, a set of behaviors and thoughts, maybe. At best it can be considered a culture. Religion is no one thing. The Cargo Cults and the Catholic Church have very little in common.

In his book, Religion Explained, Pascal Boyer makes the point that religions use ordinary mental processes (he actually uses the phrase “hijacks normal inference systems”) that were designed by evolution (for other purposes).

To vastly oversimplify this, consider the scheme of System 1 and System 2 thinking invented by Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow was his landmark book). Type 1 thinking is fast, intuitive, emotional, unconscious thought. The Type 2 system is slow, calculating, analytical, conscious thought (think math problems). The big difference between Type 1 and Type 2 thinking is that Type 1 is fast and easy but very susceptible to bias, whereas Type 2 is slow and requires conscious effort but is much more resistant to cognitive biases.

Religion uses the Type 1 system. Science uses the Type 2 system.

We have evolved both kinds of thinking for very good reasons. For example, if you hear a grizzly bear growl very loud behind you, you do not want to be cogitating over which species of Ursus that growl might belong to, you want to be skeedaddling as fast as possible. Similarly, if you want to master the game of chess, or design a self-propelled vehicle, or a computer, intuition won’t get you very far.

These two systems really can’t war with one another.

If I may quote Boyer: “The religion-versus-science debate took a special turn in the West because of the existence not only of doctrinal religion but of a monopolistic doctrinal religion that made the crucial mistake of meddling in empirical statements of fact, providing us with a long list of particularly precise, official and officially compelling statements about the cosmos and biology, supposedly guaranteed by Revelation, that we now know to be false.” (page 320)

This is the equivalent of the meme “I found your nose . . . it was in my business again.”

But having lost every single disagreement between religious facts and scientific facts has resulted in the religious retreating into their Type 1 thinking zone, saying that religion addresses a special domain of human existence. (The touchy-feely zone? The Twilight Zone?)

Actually there is no war. The religious drifted out of their lane because of ignorance, and got smacked around for it. There is no contest here, so there is no war. The lanes are not race lanes.

Interestingly I see many, many questions on Quora addressing such lane changes, so the “faith” of religion encourages Type 1 thinking in that it “feels right” intuitively but ends up with still many religious practitioners trying to start the car they took the engine out of last year. It is too much trouble to lift up the hood of the car to find out why it wont start, that would involve Type 2 thinking and that is discouraged in all religions. (Curiously Type 2 thinking is allowed in “church fathers” and other intelligentsia (apologists, etc.) as long as they are on a leash, a leash that is held by the church.)

October 6, 2020

Everchanging Evangelicals

Filed under: History,Politics,Religion,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 11:53 am

If you were to inform American Evangelicals from the past about what their brethren are doing now, they would be appalled.

During the debate over the adoption of the new Constitution, guess who supported church-state separation? Evangelicals.

During the abolistion period prior to and after the civil war, who was anti-racism, and anti-slavery . . . vigorously? Evangelicals.

What’s that rumbling sound, you ask? That stems from those evangelicals rolling over in their graves at the Chrsitian nationalist, racist Evangelicals of our age.

September 27, 2020

Should Amy Barrett’s Faith Be Part of Her Qualifications?

An op-ed in today’s The Guardian is entitled “Amy Coney Barrett should be judged on her ability, not her faith” (by Kenan Malik) The article could have been written identically for any of the other recent nomination processes.

This article and this attitude misses the point, however.

The point is not just her qualifications but the court’s qualifications to judge legal issues. If seated on the court, the court would be made up of six Catholics, two Jews, and one half Episcopalian-half Catholic. Is this representative of this country? Is this a court that can decide political issues that have religious undertones, fairly and in accord with precedent’s, etc.?

The question is not “Should her faith be part of her qualifications?” but “Should the court be packed with members of minority religions?”

There are more protestants than Catholics, yet not a single one of those could be found who is qualified to sit on that court?

Trump, Master of Distractions

Filed under: Politics,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 8:18 am
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Upon what criteria would Mr. Trump base a nomination for a new associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States? I believe there was exactly one. Create a ruckus, a distraction that, if possible, makes his opposition look bad. (“See, they can’t even support another women on the bench.”) The Ruckus distracts from the real failings of the President. He has fulfilled his duty in this matter (nominating a person to fill a vacancy on that court) and now he is done. The rest of us get to whirl around the distraction for weeks when we should be concentrating on getting rid of his sorry ass.

And, another Catholic? He couldn’t find a qualified Evangelical, or even a Protestant? (Repeat after me. Repeat after me. Rinse and repeat.)

September 23, 2020

Will Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee Be Another Catholic?

Filed under: Politics,Religion,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 11:14 am
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Before Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, the current SCOTUS contained five Catholic justices, three Jewish justices, and Brett Cavanaugh who was raised Catholic but claims to be Episcopalian now (Episcopalians have been described as wannabe Catholics, so we will count him as half of a Catholic).

In the history of the Supreme Court there have been 114 Justices, only 13 of which have been Catholic, about 11 per cent. Catholics currently make up 22% of Americans but that is counting newborn babies, children, etc. An estimate of the percentage of adults is “about one fifth.” This seems an over estimate as currently 78% of Americans are adults and any large sub group would probably have this same proportion of adults. So, a 22% total count translates into a 17% adult count, so “about a fifth” is an exaggeration.

So, a proportional number of Supreme Court Justices would be about 1.5, so 1-2, but we currently have five (and a half) and are considering six (and a half) if Mr. Trump’s favorite is nominated.

The religions supporting Mr. Trump bigly are the Evangelical Protestants. Many of these people do not believe that Catholics are even Christians, let alone correct believing Christians.

So, why wouldn’t his base howl if he didn’t nominate an Evangelical Christian?

Currently there are no Protestants on the court, certainly no Evangelicals. Historically 80% of Justices have been Protestant of some stripe. Currently there are none.

Pass the word, our evangelical brothers and sisters need to know that Mr. Trump is selling us all to the Papist Cult!

September 11, 2020

Doing the Time Warp

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
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Consequences, there are consequences . . . to being a know it all.

Apparently the Christian god knows everything that has happened and will happen. This means this god already knows what you will be praying for next week, next year, and in ten years. Already knows.

Musical Interlude
Let’s do the Time Warp again
It’s so dreamy
Oh, fantasy free me
So you can’t see me
No, not at all . . .

So, if this god already has heard your prayers, why would it wait until you actually said them to respond? If your prayer sounds like a good idea, it should be implemented immediately, no? So, if the prayer was, say, to save a believer’s daughter from a deadly disease, the god could step in, prevent the child from getting the disease in the first place and thus avoid all of the pain, suffering, and anguish on the part of the child and parents . . . no?

Of course, if this god were interested in the credit for the saved little life, then waiting would make such a “miracle cure” more dramatic, no? But to whose benefit is that?

Plus, it is claimed that this god has a plan for each and every one of us. If it already knows what will come about, wouldn’t that have been worked into his plan already? This would mean that prayers would be totally useless/ineffective, which studies prove them to be, so maybe this is why. This god has already taken your prayers into account and the plan was formulated with those being known, so whatever you pray for will come up empty. What will happen has already been decided.

If, as part of your plan, you are to get deathly sick, go in hospital, almost die, but survive and recover your health. All of your Christian friends, however, will have been beavering away praying that you recover, see that you have recovered and shouts of “Praise God!” will rise up in church on Sunday. Of course, had you died, they would have said that their god had other plans for you. Either way god wins and this is less work for him and so is more likely than a working model of intercessionary prayer.

Why such a being would give a rat’s fart for what you think is also a mystery, along with why he would want you to love him. “God needs your love” says many things about that god and none of them are flattering.

But then, I guess being all-knowing is its own reward . . . and punishment. It sounds like a curse to me.

PS Bonus points for who recognizes the song the lyric was snatched from.

 

September 8, 2020

The Ten Convenient Commandments (How to Correctly Interpret These in a Modern Sense)

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:31 am
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1 You shall have no other gods before me.

Okay, this does not apply to Trump worshipers. God will just have to take second place for a while. Oh, money, too. “No money, no life,” am I right?

2 You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

This doesn’t include all of the religious statuary in the Vatican or any of the paintings either. None of them statues and paintings in all of the local churches either, including those as stained glass windows. And those people who wear a crucifix pendant around their neck, that’s just good Christian behavior.

And while TV shows show a great many images “in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” we just consider those as being special effects and besides, they go away when we turn the TV off, right?

3 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Jesus, of course not!

4 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This doesn’t apply to the wife who has to make the sandwiches and chili and serve the beer for the gang watching the NFL game. Those people on TV are all working on the Sabbath and we watch them do so with great glee, so they aren’t covered by this, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

5 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

I hope they both got Social Security because I ain’t supporting them in their old age. Fuck that. I barely make enough as it is.

6 You shall not murder.

Okay, this is usually convenient so we can live with this one.

7 You shall not commit adultery.

Uh, mostly this should be obeyed, but geez, when the opportunity is hot, it is really inconvenient, so this is a “maybe yes, maybe no commandment.”

8 You shall not steal.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to filling in our tax forms. Cheating the federal government out of its legally dictated tax revenue is not like stealing from a real person. And taking a few things home from the office is not like stealing. We have put in extra hours that were not paid, so this is just payment for those hours, right?

9 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Of course not. That lying son of a bitch, however, never plays by the rules. I think he is a Scientologist and we all know how criminal those Scientologists are.

10 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Heck, if it weren’t for neighbor envy, none of us would struggle to get ahead in the rat race, am I right? Jeez, if I had a Mercedes like my neighbor has, I wouldn’t be jealous of him at all.

 

 

September 5, 2020

The God Feature of Omnipresence

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:56 am
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In a recent post I wrote “We claim that this (Christian) god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within line of sight to see what you do. Is this “power” necessary for this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions.” The reason is simple: because he already has.

God has perfect memory of the past . . . and the future. Whereas we “think back” to recall a memory, this god can “think forward” to recall an event that hasn’t yet happened, but will.

My conclusion in that previous post was that “omnipresence” is an unnecessary claim for any god which is all-knowing. It is an indicator that this god is made up because it contains human frailties coded into it, a being which supposedly has no human frailties.

So, why do theists insist that the Christian god is omnipresent? I think it has to do with human nature also. Imagine a Christian confronting a friend contemplating some sort of sinful behavior. Which, do you think, will be the more effective argument? Telling them that “God” will be there seeing and hearing what they do? or telling them “God” already knows what you will do and he will punish you. Human nature says, “well if I am to be punished I might as well get my money’s worth.” (Anyone who has raised a teenager has encountered this attitude.)

So, Christians have transformed their god into a Voyeur God to make it a more effective weapon in controlling the behavior of others. Having a god who watches you when you are voiding your bowels or bladder hardly seems attractive. I guess if it matters which hand you use, there will have to be some oversight. And, sex of course. God watches all of that kinky stuff and takes mental notes or possible they are automatically recorded in big books that will be consulted when you are at the pearly gates being judged (or whenever a cherubim is feeling horny and needs some help getting off).

Something is definitely sick here, and I don’t think it is this god. Being imaginary makes so many of its actions second hand, don’t you think?

August 27, 2020

Assembling God

Filed under: Culture,History,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:54 am
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The god of Christianity, Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost didn’t show up in scripture fully formed. His powers kind of grew like Topsy, created on the fly by ordinary human beings.

Some of these are logical consequences and some are hidden presumptions. For example, claiming that this god is all-knowing means that in order to “recall” any fact from his memory, he only needs to recall the past or future action. This requires this god to have one hell of a memory, but is not unthinkable. But there are inherent problems associated with claiming this power for this god. Here is a typical question on Quora asking about this consequence. “If God knows my whole life from beginning to end, did he imagine me before he created me? If he imagined all the things I will say and do, is it him being me doing these things? I imagine people doing whatever but it’s not them doing what they do.” Basically this question is asking that if this god knows everything I am going to do, do I have free will? The straightforward answer is an obvious “no” and the consequence is we should not be held accountable for our actions because we were programmed by god to do those things. I will leave it to you to unpack these arguments because they have been around for almost all of human history.

Other consequences are somewhat loaded with creator responsibility. (Not Creator responsibility, but creator responsibility.) We claim that this god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within “line of sight” to see what you do. Is this necessary of this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions. He doesn’t even need to show up to perform the miracle you are praying for. He can do anything remotely, plus the fact that he has tens of thousands of angels on the payroll, most of the time sitting around eating his food and drinking his wine, the lazy bastards can be sent to do some work for once. And, since the all-knowing god already knows, he can schedule this angel to do that task, months, years, or millennia ahead of time to avoid any time pressure.

So, being omnipresent is a useless power for such a god. It is only there because of human assumptions about how humans behave, not gods. And this is not the only example of a god’s powers being woven out of thin air, cut from whole cloth, etc.

Consider why Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost has “messengers” or “helpers.” So, why?

Basically this is because they were created in the previous tradition, by the creators ofYahweh, and Jesus was “the Son,” so they had to be kept in Christianity. The baggage, of course, involves devils, demons, and a whole zoo of other supernatural beings in attendance on this god.

But are they needed? You’ve probably heard this argument before. This god has demonstrated the ability to think things into existence (whole galaxies, etc.) and communicate across vast distances. So, does he need “helpers” of any kind? The answer is “no.” In fact assigning a task to an angel (or cherubim, or . . .) takes as much effort or more that doing it himself, just by thinking whatever he wants into existence.

Some claim that these beings are there for purposes of companionship. Companionship is something people need, by does this god? The answer is no. This god is claimed to be perfect, whole, and needing of nothing.

But then . . . this is the god who punished Lucifer for the sin of pride and who created an entire species of sentient beings … to worship him. Remember the speck in your brother’s eye and the beam in yours story. Yeah, like that.

 

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