Class Warfare Blog

July 19, 2020

The “Respect My Beliefs” Campaign

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
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Note What you have come to expect on sabbath days, a religious post! Enjoy!

* * *

Well, maybe it is not a campaign, but it is a trope of the modern Christian movement. I have argued that any one demanding that atheists respect their religious beliefs is wrongheaded. You see respect is earned, not demanded. I acknowledge that people have such beliefs. I actually think that many are sincere in those beliefs, but respect them? No, not in the least. I do not respect anyone who elevates the supernatural, the mythological over the real. I just do not and will not.

And should not this be a two-way street? I firmly believe that sciences, especially foundational science like physics, chemistry, and biology are the best sources we have of information about the nature of reality. Are my beliefs respected? Not particularly, I guess they must be the “false beliefs” the religious rail about so often.

I see preachers telling us that the “Blood of Jesus” will save us from the COVID-19 disease (and then contracting it and dying, which should be a sign from god, but apparently . . . is not). I see people wanting to refuse medical treatment, even inoculations because of “religious beliefs.” These particular so-called beliefs actually endanger the rest of us by keeping a population of the disease ridden alive in our communities.

That other people are claiming that, for instance, being required to wear a mask and distance ourselves minimally from others violates our rights under the Constitution is equally ridiculous but doesn’t make the religious claims less ridiculous. And the religious are claiming special privilege for their beliefs.

Basically, I think you can have any cockamamie belief you want, but once you step into the realm of bad behavior, you lose my respect and you can even gain my opposition.

I just got off of Quora and someone summarized this point this way: “I think that any atheist who respects all god-based religions is a fool. Atheists, in being atheists, have no respect for gods, simply because they do not believe in them. So an atheist who respects god-based religions is respecting other people’s worship of the very thing that he or she does not believe exists, which is foolish.”

And . . . I keep coming up with additional points as I type . . . is the respect I should offer like the respect that Christian fundamentalists extend to Catholics? (They are not True Christians™.) or Muslims? Or any sane theists and Scientologists? Most religions don’t respect other religions because, well, they are just wrong, that’s why. So, we are supposed to respect all of them when they don’t respect one another. Talk about setting a high bar, much higher for atheists than for True Believers™.

June 26, 2020

Christians Horrified

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:33 pm
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Many Christians seem horrified that atheists can spout their heresies freely through social media. Any number of conservative religions consider social media to be tools of the Devil for that and other reasons. (As evidence, the highest usage rates of hotel porn were in Salt Lake City and if that devil machine can do that to the Mormons, none of us is safe.)

Let’s break this down a bit, unpack it as it is said. Why is it that atheists like me can make atheistic claims and criticize religions openly on forums such as this? The most common answer is that our Constitution gives us freedom of speech. But it doesn’t give us freedom from reciprocity.

In my lifetime, an atheist who espoused her status openly would receive a heavy dose of public condemnation and vilification. I think back to Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who founded American Atheists when I was in high school. I heard terrible things about her character, exclusively from people who had never met her, nor spent any time in her presence.

And what happened to Mrs. O’Hair and her family? The NY Times reported in 2001 “Officials said they believed the three were killed and dismembered in an Austin storage locker and their bodies dumped at a remote ranch in Real County, 90 miles west of San Antonio. One of the men suspected of involvement in the case, David R. Waters, 53, accompanied the authorities to the grave site in January as part of a plea bargain.”

What Christians need to ask themselves is when threats, including death threats actually carried out, are removed and an ever larger group of people show up who say, simply, “I do not believe you,” you have to ask how good are your beliefs if they need such threats to support them?

May 11, 2020

Atheists and Good and Evil . . . Again, Still

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:04 pm
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One of my favorite authors on Quora is Barry Goldberg, author of the book Common Sense Atheism. He has the patience of Job and a kindness I cannot address when confronted with incredibly ignorant questions. Here is one of his answers to a question recently posed on the Quora site:

Q: What guides atheists to be good and stops them from doing evil since they don’t believe that hell is real?

A: Wow, what an excellent question! I can only assume that the person who asked it is genuinely wondering why so many Christians who supposedly believe hell is real commit so many crimes and treat their fellow man so badly, whereas atheists generally have a reputation for being kind and law-abiding people. I mean, sure, you could argue that “no true Christian” would ever commit sins knowing that hell is real or that nobody is perfect and Christians are at least trying to avoid sin, but the fact remains that so many supposedly “God fearing” Christians abuse children, beat their spouses, cheat their neighbors, and commit enough crimes to keep our prisons full to bursting, whereas atheists generally don’t do those things (at least not nearly as often).

So how to explain this conundrum? Why do people who supposedly know that hell is real and that they will be punished for all eternity for doing evil actually do evil so much more often than those who do not believe in hell and eternal punishment?

Well, I think it really comes down to basic human nature and the way that organized religion (including Christianity) tends to subvert that basic human nature. Let me explain…

Humans, it can be argued, evolved as social animals to have an innate sense of empathy that lets us recognize other people as fellow human beings and feel sad when we see other human being suffering (as well as feel happy when we see other human beings enjoying themselves). This innate sense of empathy is what lets us work cooperatively in large groups and form societies and has proven to be a very potent survival trait. Which is to say that humans generally don’t do “evil” things to other people simply because we have evolved to not actually want to do evil to other people. Sure, there are exceptions with the odd psychopath, sociopath or politician, but humans in general are like this naturally. If they weren’t, our species would have died out long ago.

And then along comes religion…

Religion does two things. The first is to co-opt that natural sense of empathy that most of us were born with and codify it into various religious laws and commandments. That sounds OK, except for the fact that by doing so religions can therefore claim that these laws and commandments are actually not based on natural principles at all but instead come from some external source that is the sole arbiter of what is “good” and what is “evil.” Humans, religions teach us, are actually inherently evil and need to be told by God that murder and robbery and the like are bad.

And this leads inexorably to the other thing that religion does. Once it has convinced people that they can only know “good” from “evil” by relying on what “God” is said to have commanded, they can then start adding and subtracting from what our natural sense of empathy would otherwise have us believe:

  • “Don’t kill anybody, unless it’s somebody who God really wants you to kill.”
    •  “Love your neighbor as yourself, unless your neighbor belongs to a different religion.”
    •  All life is sacred and must be protected, but the life of an unborn child is more sacred than that of the mother and protection for that child ends the moment it is born.”
    •  All people should be treated with equal respect, unless he or she is gay, in which case they are trying to destroy our way of life and must be discriminated against.”

And, perhaps worst of all:

“It’s perfectly OK if you sin as long as you ask forgiveness afterwards since Jesus died to save you from your sins.”

It’s this last one that I think may be primarily responsible for why so many Christians commit so many sins compared to atheists. Atheists know that they only have one chance at life and know that the only ones who can ever forgive them of their sins are the people they sin against. Christians, however, are taught that all sins committed in this life can be forgiven and even Hitler could be in heaven as long as he sincerely repented on his death bed.

So, it’s a combination of two things, then:

A fear of hell may lead many Christians to perform evil deeds that they have been taught are actually good.

Christian doctrine may lead many Christians to think they have a “Get Out of hell Free” card that lets them sin with impunity as long as they plan to repent later.

Or, to quote Steven Weinberg:

“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.”

Note: My former Quora blog “Common Sense Atheism” has now been converted into a “Space” at Common Sense Atheism. If you like what I write, please consider following my Space so you can be notified when I add new content.

If you do not current follow anyone on Quora or just want to check it out, Barry’s “Space” is a good place to start.

May 2, 2020

The Same Old, Lame Arguments

The question is often posited as to why religious apologists, especially Christian apologists, keep using old arguments that have been refuted centuries, if not millennia ago, arguments like Pascal’s Wager, or Anselm’s arguments, or Tertullian’s arguments.

I think I finally understand and it is from a “follow the money” style approach such as serves well in politics. There is a perception that the arguments proffered are designed to convince nonbelievers to become believers, and if any of this actually occurs, I suggest that that is incidental. I think the main audience for such apologetics is not unbelievers, but believers, to keep the faithful in their pews, as it were.

Offering an intellectual argument for why one’s faith is well-founded, even if there is little understanding of the argument by the hearer, lends credence to their faith in the form of “see, this college professor/philosopher/well-educated person believes and he has reasons, even if I do not understand them.”

The re-use of hoary old arguments is based upon some simple facts: one is that the arguments were convincing the first time they were offered (convincing to believers, that it) so if a modern believer hadn’t heard of that argument before, it is a revelation. Young believers on sites such as Quora ask naïve question referring to these arguments as if they were slam dunk conclusive . . . because the people offering them don’t offer a balance treatment when doing so, they only point out the “obvious.” (A balanced treatment would offer discussions of why the argument works at some level and fails at others, such as would be offered in a college philosophy classroom.)

A second reason is that apologists don’t get paid by atheists. They get paid to speak at religious conferences, they get paid because a religious publication accepts their offerings for publication (often professors must “publish or perish”), they get paid to be a guest speaker at a church, they get paid to debate atheists (normal in neutral or churchly settings).

The major admonition in public speaking is to “know your audience.” Most audiences can follow a short snappy argument, but not a long point by point dissection of that argument, for which they have little patience and possibly little understanding either.

Apologists do not often point out that nothing can be “proven” through a philosophical argument. If you have brute facts as premises and a bulletproof argument, then all you have is that “if the premises are true, so too is the conclusion.” In other words, the conclusion is inherent in the premises. If the premises are false or simply are not brute facts, then the conclusions will be also. So, a common method of tweaking an argument is to “tweak” the premises. Here is a common premise used in the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of a God or Gods: “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.” If this “premise” is accepted, you will conclusively prove that a god created the universe because the only two options are “explanation/no explanation” and we all think there is an explanation. The reason for that conclusion is that the conclusion is buried in the premise. Another way to state that is; “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, the only explanation is God.” So, no other explanation, of the myriad possibilities, is allowed. Well, then, “God created the universe!”

But that premise is not a premise, it is a mere assertion, an assertion of faith in fact. To understand this consider these variations of that “premise?”
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Allah.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Yahweh.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Anubis.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Odin.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Can you honestly argue that any of these is “obviously true,” the normal criterion to be applied to premises in logical arguments?

In fact, one cannot put “God” or “gods” in a premise of a philosophic argument because those are matters of faith and not “brute facts,” that all would agree to. (Another form of religious persecution being directed at Christians, I am sure.)

So, Christian apologists and others, keep trotting out the same old, tired, lame arguments that have existed as zombie arguments for centuries because they have new audiences coming out of Sunday Schools around the country and well that’s what they get paid to do.

September 4, 2019

The Meaning of Life and the Problem of Evil

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 10:45 am
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It is not a rare occurrence that when theists are chatting with atheists, the theists claim that “without their god, life has no meaning.” This atheist answers, yes, that is the case. I wish to expand upon this a bit and then address another, separate topic.

I suggest that “meaning” doesn’t really exist. Whenever someone asks “But what does it all mean?” they are asking for a comforting story to wrap around events that makes them feel “better.” To support this opinion, I suggest that if you ask people from various walks of life, “what is the meaning of XYZ,” you will get answers quite different from one another, answers that tell you more about the people supplying them than the events themselves. Here in the U.S. you don’t have to wait very long for there to be a mass shooting. Ask a staunch supporter of the NRA what one of those means and they may shrug and say that “it is cost of having freedom.” Ask a soccer mom, and she might say “It means our gun laws are too lax and people with mental instabilities find it too easy to acquire massive firepower.” That different people see different meanings in the same events indicates that those meanings are not embedded in the events themselves. And, if they were impressed from without by some deity, why would people receive different messages?

Life does not impress meanings from without, either spontaneously or being force fed by a supernatural entity. Meanings are human constructs . . . period. If we ever meet an alien species and are able to communicate, they may find the concept bizarre, or have their own meanings, quite different from ours.

Regarding the Problem of Evil (see below), this is an argument against the existence of a benevolent god or gods (for those of you still claiming there are no arguments for the nonexistence of gods, viola), and the main thrust of the theistic response is that the ability to do evil comes from the existence of free will. If our “creator” were to have created us without free will, then we would just be robots, just doing the creators will because we had no choice. Since we have free will, then we have to accept that a small fractions of the free choices will be to do evil.

I have mentioned this before but this is a false dichotomy. If you put “the existence of evil” on one side of a balance, you don’t put “free will” on the other. (We are talking about human initiated evil, not natural evil here, that is another topic.) This is a standard apologetics approach equivalent to throwing out the baby with the bath water. I do not want to get into a protracted discussion about free will. Many people think of it as “the ability to do otherwise,” which suffices for now. If the creator god created us with the ability to do otherwise, except to do evil, we would find our lives virtually unchanged. We would be able to choose vanilla or chocolate at the ice cream store, choose this person or that to consider as a potential mate, choose a baseball team to follow, choose to buy a Chevy rather than a Ford, choose which occupation to follow, etc. The only choice we could not make is to do evil. We would just not want to do that. So, for example, we are really, really mad, so we go down to the gun store and buy an AR-15 and a bunch of ammo, but we don’t feel like gunning down a bunch of school kids, so we go to a local gun range and blaze away for an hour or so. Ta da!

We would not be giving up “Free Will” in totality were we to have been created without the will to do evil, we would just be giving up the will to do evil, which for the vast majority of human beings, is not a hard sell.

So, the Problem of Evil is quite free from the false dichotomy of the Free Will Defense (another zombie idea propped up by theistic apologists). And, there has not been an other successful refutation of this problem. (Much mealy-mouthed mumbling, but no successful logical refutation.)

The Problem of Evil
(Being an argument that gods do not exist.)

Originating with Greek philosopher Epicurus, the logical argument from evil is as follows:
1. If an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient god exists, then evil does not.
2. There is evil in the world.
3. Therefore, an omnipotent, omnibenevolent and omniscient god does not exist.

July 19, 2019

Why Atheism?

Filed under: Reason — Steve Ruis @ 9:06 am
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There is a brilliant, indefatigable writer on Quora who addresses questions of theism and atheism brilliantly. His name is Barry Goldberg. Here is a taste of his writing.

What are the top ten reasons to be an atheist?

Barry Goldberg, Born Jewish, Raised Mormon, Discovered Philosophy and Became Atheist

Updated Oct 31, 2018

What are the top ten reasons to be an atheist?

The Top Ten Reasons to Be an Atheist (in no particular order) are:

Drum roll please…

  1. It’s obvious that all world religions are the product of extremely ignorant (not stupid) near barbarians who didn’t understand much about the world around them and made up stories to explain things the best they could. We no longer believe that the universe is made of four elements, that our health is governed by the balance of our four humors, that the Earth is the center of the universe with everything revolving around it, that mental illness is caused by demonic possession, etc. Why, then, should we still cling to ancient ideas about gods?
  2. It’s obvious that most people who say they believe in God believe in the God that is worshiped by the culture in which they grew up. And everybody is convinced that their religion is the only “right” one. They can’t all be right, but they can certainly all be wrong.
  3. It’s obvious that the universe is just too vast and full of stuff not in any way related to humans to seriously believe that it was all made just for us and that we are the pinnacle of all creation.
  4. It’s obvious that the religious beliefs of today are substantively the same as every other discarded superstitious belief of the past. If it’s silly to believe in Thor and Osiris, it’s just as silly to believe in Allah or Jehovah.
  5. It’s obvious that every single bit of proposed “evidence” for the existence of God has either been totally debunked or can be explained through other means. And it is obvious that any justification for believing in God is part of an ever-shrinking “god of the gaps” argument.
  6. It’s obvious that the various “Holy Scriptures” that supposedly provide the only source for knowledge about God are riddled with internal inconsistencies and blatantly wrong information about the world and world history.
  7. It’s obvious that every depiction of God that is actually worshiped by anybody is riddled with logical inconsistencies. How can God be all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving if he permits massive suffering throughout the entire universe (and not just suffering caused by man’s free will)? Why would an all-loving God set up a system whereby the vast, vast majority of his children would never get a chance to hear the “truth” and be saved, and thus be condemned to an eternity of torture? How can God simultaneously be immaterial and timeless (“pure mind”) and still interact with the material world?
  8. It’s obvious that things like “God moves in mysterious ways” and “God always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no” are just lame excuses to explain why God rarely (if ever) keeps his supposed promise to actually GIVE the faithful what they ask for in faith (not just “answer their prayers”).
  9. It’s obvious that “God” is just Santa Claus for adults. Believing in Him may give you comfort in times of trouble and give you something to look forward to, but that doesn’t mean He is real.
  10. And, to top it off, after thousands and thousands of years, no believer has ever offered a shred of compelling evidence or any sound logical argument to support a belief in such a being. Although, to be absolutely honest, the entire notion of “God” is so insanely ridiculous and childish and obviously the product of ignorant superstitions in the first place that it’s hard to even imagine what sort of “evidence” or “argument” would actually be sufficient to support a belief in such a being. And if you think that makes me sound “closed-minded,” then I’m afraid you’ll just have to blame the people who came up with such a ridiculous notion in the first place.

 

April 25, 2019

The Purpose of Religion

Filed under: Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 1:44 pm
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I have written before that I think religions have a purpose. However they came into being, if they survived and thrived it is because they controlled the behavior of the masses. Their purpose came to be coercing the labor of the masses so as to serve the interests of the religious and secular elites. Basically these “elites,” whose jobs involve the production of nothing needed to survive (aka art, governance, music, rituals, etc. all of the “benefits” of civilization), needed ordinary people to gather or grow extra food, wool, building materials, etc. to provide for those not doing such work, aka the elites. This evolved into a class system in which the elites created a status system that elevated those who would not lift a finger to do anything manual, even so far as to getting dressed after a night’s sleep.

The religiously duped claimed that their religion has intrinsic purpose or value and ask “what can you secularists offer in its stead?” To which I offer “a life with no delusions” or as this lovely quote provides, a life not coerced by others.

“It is not the end of the physical body that should worry us. Rather our concern must be to live while we’re alive – to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.”
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The religious often harp on their opinion of who and what we are and what our purpose may be. If you subscribe to that religion, you are judged by how well you shape your life to their prescription. That they can provide no proof of the benefits claimed should give anyone pause.

I hear many blather on about how their religion provides purpose for their lives. I always ask “What is this purpose?” Most answers seem confused or unclear. I can continue on to ask “When will you know this is true?” because it is only after death that most religions have scheduled their pay off . . . another fact that should give anyone pause.

It is also clear that most of the religious don’t want to talk about this topic. They prefer the vague goodness of their feelings to thoughts that lead to embarrassing conclusions, e.g.

Atheist: So what is this “purpose?”
Theist: To live in the presence of God and worship Him.
Atheist: Ah, so He needs worship?
Theist: Uh . . .

or

Atheist: So what happens to those who do not accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
Theist: They are denied living in the presence of God for all eternity.
Atheist: So, all of those scriptures describing the Lake of Fire are mistaken?”
Theist: Uh, I don’t know; I just think that being denied an eternity in God’s presence is our definition of Hell.
Atheist: And what will you being doing for this eternity?
Theist: Uh . . . I have an appointment I am late for.

And so on. The proscription on asking such questions in the various religions seems to serve only the purpose I claim above (the interests of the elites). I would think that the clearer people were on the benefits and trade-offs of a religion, the stronger their commitment would be, but understanding is not the goal, faith—which is subscription to the beliefs claimed by the religion without understanding or questioning—is . . . which should give anyone pause.

March 22, 2019

So Smart and Yet … And Still Prone to Simple Mistakes

In the most recent Scientific American issue, there was an interview with a Brazilian physicist.

Atheism Is Inconsistent with the Scientific Method, Prizewinning Physicist Says
In conversation, the 2019 Templeton Prize winner does not pull punches on the limits of science, the value of humility and the irrationality of nonbelief
by Lee Billings (March 20, 2019)

According to that article “Marcelo Gleiser, a 60-year-old Brazil-born theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College and prolific science popularizer, has won this year’s Templeton Prize. Valued at just under $1.5 million, the award from the John Templeton Foundation annually recognizes an individual ‘who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.’”

“… And by doing that, by understanding how science advances, science really becomes a deeply spiritual conversation with the mysterious, about all the things we don’t know. So that’s one answer to your question. And that has nothing to do with organized religion, obviously, but it does inform my position against atheism. I consider myself an agnostic.

“I honestly think atheism is inconsistent with the scientific method. What I mean by that is, what is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief. ‘I don’t believe even though I have no evidence for or against, simply I don’t believe.’ Period. It’s a declaration. But in science we don’t really do declarations.”

I can’t really tell whether this is willful ignorance or just Lying for Jesus. It is hard to tell, but really “What is atheism? It’s a statement, a categorical statement that expresses belief in nonbelief.”

According to this convoluted definition if you do not accept the “proof” of the existence of the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, then you really just believe in their nonexistence, for no reasons whatsoever.

So, all of the evidence that Santa isn’t real is not to be considered. If you do not think Santa is real, then you have a belief in the nonbelief in Santa.

What a crock of horse pucky.

Atheism is not a belief. Here is what atheism at its core is:
Theist God exists and loves you!
Atheist I don’t “believe” you.
Theist But the proof is obvious; it is all around you.
Atheist Yeah, like what?
Theist Blah, blah, blah, blah.
Atheist Your proofs make no sense. I am not convinced.

Atheists are not believers, nor are they unbelievers. We are the unconvinced. Being unconvinced is not a state built on a foundation of belief, it is built on a foundation of no evidence, bad arguments, special pleading, logical errors, and a great many facts to the contrary.

Compatabilist scientists notwithstanding, trying to turn atheism into a belief system to imbue it with all of the flaws of religious belief systems and put it on an equal footing with them is an old, old strategy … that still does not work. Why? Because we are not convinced that atheism is a belief.

January 8, 2019

Other Ways of Knowing, Part 2

Filed under: Reason,Religion,Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:46 pm
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In the ongoing war between faith and science a common claim is that science is not the only way to acquire knowledge, that there are “other ways of knowing.” Along with this I see question after question on the Quora website asking atheists about what “evidence” would convince them to believe in God/Jesus (like we tell them and then they produce it … strange question). The number of these latter questions is smaller than the usual ones asking atheists to prove there is no god or asking for evidence that there is no god, but they are numerous enough.

So, many of these arguments center on “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” arguments which are too nonsensical to take seriously but the “other ways of knowing” response is intriguing. Usually they are referring to “revealed” truth or some such thing through “personal experience” (as if there were any other kind). Interestingly enough, in the vast majority of times in which revealed truths have some up against scientific truths, the revealed truths have come out poorly. This lead me to the following line of thinking.

In legal contests, if one side makes an argument that there is only one interpretation of the evidence and that interpretation circumstantially leads to the guilt of a defendant, the only requirement of the refutation of such an argument is that another equally plausible interpretation be made … not proved, just made. So, if the argument is “god did it,” then in spite of the evidence, all that is needed is an equally plausible interpretation of the “evidence.” Well, that has been provided and, obviously, it didn’t work.

So, consider the following hypothetical scenario. A favorite meme of the ancient alien speculators (they are not theorists) is that an alien race came to this planet and “adjusted” our genetic material to make us who we are now. What if that were true?

So, a flying saucer (or any other equivalent space craft) lands on the White House lawn and after a small diplomatic interlude, their representatives claim that they came back to check on how we were doing, because X numbers of thousands of years ago, they “adjusted the DNA of a hominid ancestor of ours to result in … us. They provide more than credible evidence of this deed (videos, tissue samples, explanations of the DNA “adjustments,” etc.

What happens to the “other ways of knowing” at that point? I suggest that all of them are blown out of the water as the hooey they are. The claim that there are “other ways of knowing” is simple a ruse to protect their “knowledge” from critical inspection.

I suggest that this is not the only scenario that results in all of those “other ways” of folding up like a cheap cardboard suitcase left in the rain. (Cheap cardboard suitcases were the ancestors of cheap plastic suitcases.) Another would be the discovery of significant life on another planet, which could come about through contact or communication remotely. If we found that their set of “beliefs” about nature were different from scientific truths and ascribed to “other ways of knowing,” we would know we were talking to their bullshit artists who were part and parcel with our bullshit artists.

Can you think of other such scenarios? Wouldn’t a benign one of these be lovely? Traumatic for some but lovely collectively. (One can empathize with the traumatized (and I would), but you can’t put your balls on an anvil, pass out hammers, and then complain of the pain you suffer.)

November 26, 2018

Meaning, Schmeaning

Filed under: Culture,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:10 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Atheists have to deal with a great many accusatory questions from Christians. One of my favorites is: how can there be morality without God? (Implication: I am an immoral asshole.) I always the questioner ask for a clear, definitive statement of Christian morality and I usually only get a “mumble, mumble, Golden Rule” response.

Another question is” How can there be meaning in life without God? (Implication: my existence is meaningless and, hence, worthless.) Well, we now have an answer! Pew Research has done a survey asking people where they derive “a great deal of meaning” and “the most important source of meaning” in their lives. So, our 70% Christian nation has spoken! Here are the top sources rated from most to least (with the percent responding “provides a great deal of meaning”):

Spending time with family … 69%
Being outdoors … 47%
Caring for pets … 45%
Listening to music … 44%
Reading … 37%
Your religious faith … 36%
Your job or career … 34%

So, what do you think? Is this just additional proof that Satan is in charge “down here?” Is the placement of people’s religion as a source of meaning in their lives right in being between “reading” and “your job or career,” and well behind caring for one’s pets? (Keep in mind Americans notoriously hate their jobs.)

Here’s the article I read (https://religionnews.com/2018/11/20/for-most-americans-new-research-says-family-comes-first/).

Addendum Before you write back to tell me that religion was ranked very high as the “most important source of meaning” in people’s lives religion still came in at 20% (one out of five), half of what “spending time with family” pulled down. And that survey asked about religion and not god. Since there are more than a few atheists who are members of churches (and churches which welcome atheists with open arms) and it is well noted that religion has a significant social component, I wonder where “god” would have ranked? (Basically, you cannot ask that question, because it will encourage people to lie. It would be like the “Does this dress make me look fat?” question.)

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