Questionable Motives

January 10, 2011

Where’s the line between your god and me?

Why do I keep harping about the dangers of religious beliefs in the public domain?
Many people assume I must have a vendetta or something against some past religious sleight, that I was abused by a religious person and am angry, that I must be searching for god because I stay involved in speaking out against faith-based beliefs. None of these is true.
I try to explain that I made a necessary decision long ago – one that all of make at some point – about what happens when one gives in to pimping out one’s conscience (conveniently forgetting the Golden rule) in favour of something else, something practical and self-rewarding. I try to explain a series of events that happened to me to bring it home when I was much younger.
I could see a direct correlation between being spat on at a bus bench in apartheid South Africa by a white woman for sitting on the wrong side of the painted bench that read ‘Whites Only’ and ‘For Coloureds Only’ to standing beneath the gate at Auschwitz and appreciating what had to have happened to make industrialized death possible. I could plainly see in my young mind that acquiescence to the faith-based belief that race is real and more important than human rights and freedoms for all is no different in principle than the faith-based belief that god is real and more important than human rights and freedoms.
The pimping of one’s conscience is to put aside the PRIMACY of fundamental respect for our common and shared humanity in favour of some faith-based belief, to then excuse acting on this belief as if IT were more important to uphold (in whatever name you care to insert) than the person acted upon.
I could plainly see then as I do now that placing some faith-based belief higher in consideration than the rights and freedoms of real people is the cause in practice to gross injustices. And this is what I see whenever faith-based beliefs are allowed to be the justification for actions in our world: that potential and far too often actual gross injustices.
Those who excuse or support actions in the name of faith-based beliefs – whether positive or negative  – are a great threat to humanity (not just because I think that their brains are addled but) because they do not have the intellectual discipline or fortitude or honesty to follow their faith-based sympathies to their logical conclusions – to the gates of their own supported version of Auschwitz. People continue to support faith-based beliefs without clearly seeing the very real danger to others they bring to the table of their communities; instead, they mollify their capitulated consciences with excuses under various banners already predetermined to matter more in importance than the rights and freedoms of others.
To me it is obvious: moving away from respecting FIRST the rights and freedoms of others and inserting something else in this position is wrong – it is morally reprehensible and ethically self-destructive – no matter what that something else may be. The worst offender is, of course, god but it could be nation or tribe or political affiliation or gender or whatever. It doesn’t matter what the selected particular may be. What matters is the willingness that something ELSE is more important, of greater consideration, than respecting the rights and freedoms of others. And that respect cannot be simply interpersonal but systemic: we must offer our primary support in the name of our conscience to the social and political and legal framework necessary to keep our rights and freedoms equal for all.
This is the battle I undertake because my conscience demands it be done. Do we have the moral courage to make right choices in our lives, to find and recognize that line of conscience we will not cross?
Here’s a little story about that line… one I found poignant yet strangely personal that shows exactly what I mean (h/t to Dead Wild Roses).
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108 Comments »

  1. Is this your belief about the reality of the world… ie. your religious faith? Does this belief take primacy over shared humanity? You say faith based beliefs are evil… upon what standard? If there is a standard, then their has to be an authority to institute the standard. If there is no authority over us, then the only standard I have is “what I want.” Therefore, anything I want to do is “right” because it violates nothing. That is the logical conclusion of your position.
    Everyone has faith based religous beliefs they operate upon everyday. That does not mean they are real, or good. Some beliefs are in accordance with the way the world really is (ie. truth), and those that are “truth” are by definition “good.” The call of man is to separate truth from illusion. My life, lived out of a religous, faith-based, reasoned position that we all answer to a deity, is no less credible than yours lived out of a religious, faith-based, reasoned position that we do not answer to a deity.
    In the end the critical question is which of our beliefs represents what is true about the world as it really exists.

    Comment by dholman — January 10, 2011 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

    • Wow. What a very selective and peculiar reading of what I wrote.

      No, this not my religion.

      No, this is not a belief that takes primacy over respecting the equal human rights and freedoms of others.

      I don’t say faith-based beliefs are evil. The standard, as I mentioned, is the Golden rule. This rule is not an ‘authority’ to which we are subservient but a common notion held in respect by most people for as long as we have had any written records.

      Your assertion that my conclusion is the moral standard of “what I want” is only from your own imaginings.

      And no, people do not have faith-based beliefs they operate upon every day… unless you expand the meaning of “faith based religous (sic) beliefs” to mean some level of trust.

      And I don’t know where you get your “call of man” from, but I think respecting what’s true from what is merely believed to be true is what an intellectually honest person tries to do. That is basis, in my opinion, of what we call reason and its epistemology stands contrary to exactly that absence of reason that empowers faith. After all, if you had good reasons to inform your ‘faith’, then it wouldn’t be faith now would it?

      Comment by tildeb — January 10, 2011 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

      • My point is that “faith” is about how we see the world around us; ie. those ideas and facts we accept as reality. We all live out of those everyday, and make judgements about acceptable and unacceptable behavior based upon those ideas. The sum total of a person’s faith is their religous belief.
        Faith/religous belief can be based upon good solid evidence or nothing more than our own imaginations. It can be good (accurate to what is in the world) or bad (not in accordance with what is real). Everyone has a religous belief about existence. “Faith” is what you do with facts/evidence/ideas… ie. accept or reject. There is no dichotomy between “faith” and “reason.” A healthy faith is built upon the honest investigation and acceptance of what we understand about the world.
        My point about judgement is this. You outlined conduct common among people that is unacceptable (“Those who excuse or support actions in the name of faith-based beliefs – whether positive or negative – are a great threat to humanity”) To say that this is unacceptable is a “judgement.” That judgement is based upon your beliefs. Therefore, the statement is an expression of the very thing you are saying should not be done.
        One important note: I do agree that being disrespectful and even “mean” in the name of getting a viewpoint across is wrong. I also find no basis for “silencing” opposing viewpoints by force, slander, etc. No man has the right to lift himself as the “overseer” of another man. Being a Christian, I firmly believe that every man must judge his own actions, and by consequence judge the actions of others as to whether they are acceptable to our “God.” However, judgement about the person himself is something reserved for God alone.

        Comment by dholman — February 8, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

      • You are abusing the term ‘faith’ to mean whatever you want it to mean: everything from trust and confidence to empty assertion and assumption. You’re certainly not using it as I meant it with faith-based beliefs, meaning beliefs based on an absence of evidence.

        The reason why the difference is important has to do with how we inform our understanding of the world. A faith-based belief is a starting point: it’s true because we assume it to be so, or assert it. It is not the result of honest inquiry but a stated beginning point. For example, I believe in god because god is. I do not believe in god because I have preponderance of empirical evidence that informs reaching such a conclusion; I start with the conclusion and THEN try as I might to fit all my I-don’t-know’s into making sense of that answer. Why is life like this? God wants it so. How did everything begin? God made everything. What’s my purpose? Believing in god and doing god’s will. And so on. It’s the ubiquitous answer to every unknown. And when we get the same answer to all questions, we have no answers at all.

        In stark contrast is methodological naturalism, a way to inform our understanding with knowledge… knowledge that is tested to see if our answers – our explanations – actually work reliably well. Such understanding is not subjective in the sense of personal revelation but objective in the sense that everyone gets the same answer and can test its validity independent of personal bias. This kind of understanding lends us to trust the answer – to have confidence – not because we choose to believe it is so but because it continues to pass all the tests we throw at it. This confidence is earned and we arrive at these answers only after doing the hard work. Sure, we can yield to authority about, say, aerodynamics, by having confidence in the evidence that the explanations work consistently and reliably well… by placing our life in the body of the airplane even if we have never done this testing ourselves. We still have ample evidence that the knowledge is sound, which gives us cause to trust it. This kind of trust is earned, the confidence tested by first proving reliable and consistent. This is not by any stretch of the imagination the same kind of trust we may have about the reality of ghosts or efficacy of homeopathy or the intervention of god or the truth in the tripartite divinity of jesus. This kind of trust we assign.

        The difference between the two epistemologies is profound and important. Faith-based beliefs relies solely on a broken epistemology that results in claims that stand in direct conflict and contrary to the sound epistemology of the conclusions based upon methodological naturalism. The two are not the same methods of informing our understanding with knowledge and we should use different words (and, indeed, DO use different words) to describe the different methods.

        We judge all the time. We have to to survive. And in these cases, the judgments we base our live on are those of methodological naturalism kind. We do so willingly because we know this method works reliably and consistently well. Judgments based on evidence have a higher value than judgments based on wishful thinking because they have a method available to validate them. Judgments based on faith-based beliefs remain peculiar to pseudo-science, superstition, conspiracy theories, and theology. They are untrustworthy because they are full of conjecture and assertion and assumption but empty of practical value because they are empty of any valid method to verify them as based on anything true. These two kinds of methods of judgments are not equivalent kinds of beliefs at all (in spite of your attempt to use linguistic trickery). And that is why I use the term ‘faith-based beliefs’ to identify so-called knowledge that is equivalent to being identical to made-up stuff in contrast to real knowledge that can be validated and, therefore, trusted.

        Comment by tildeb — February 8, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

  2. faith-based belief that race is real and more important than human rights and freedoms – what do you mean by this? Religion…at least Christianity, teaches us to not judge others, and to live by the Golden Rule which is to treat others as you would want to be treated. So if people actually followed this rule…there could be absolute world peace. BUT…we are human, not divine and we all have different life circumstances that made us who we are. Much of it has to do with how you were raised. I was fortunate enough to have a very loving family and I believe that has everything to do with who I am today. I still get angry and judge others as hard as I try not to but….this is not taught in religion…this is just life. We have free will and make our own judgments/decisions. We are not robots of God. He wants us to come to Him of our own free will. Just because there is evil in the world doesn’t mean there is no creator….it just means there are a lot of evil people in the world using their free will. Religion, when understood properly is a means of morality. I know not all religions agree with this, there are those that hate and teach to kill, etc…but not Christianity. I’m getting a little off tangent here but wanted to better understand what you meant by the comment above that I cut and pasted from your article. Christianity teaches tolerance of all…it’s just hard for the majority to follow sadly.

    Another question, do you believe humans are forms of energy and does energy ever die?

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 16, 2011 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  3. “Religion…at least Christianity, teaches us to not judge others, and to live by the Golden Rule which is to treat others as you would want to be treated. ”

    Just like happened here you mean?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-12214368

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 18, 2011 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  4. We are taught and the bible teaches us NOT to judge others! That is God’s job alone. Yes, you will find people out there that do as they please – that is my point. Don’t blame the religion – blame the persons being discriminatory. For those B&B owners, it was against their personal beliefs and made them uncomfortable. That does not mean we are taught to hate – we are honestly taught to love only! Go to a Catholic Mass some time and listen to the homily/readings and you will see for yourself.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 21, 2011 @ 11:00 am | Reply

    • We are taught and the bible teaches us NOT to judge others!

      What utter tripe. Categorically the bible teaches you to judge others, at least into two classes, those who believe your perverse fairy-tale and those who do not. One lives on in blissful eternity forever while the other burns forever.

      That is God’s job alone.

      I see, placing ones trust in a jealous, vengeful genocidal-maniac seems to be the rational thing to do.

      Don’t blame the religion

      I will blame the religion every chance I get, I will rail against the inequalities it preaches and the discrimination inherent in its sacred magic books. I oppose religion as it is stands against and retards progress and modernity while threatening to pull us back into the dark ages of sectarian violence and strife.

      That does not mean we are taught to hate – we are honestly taught to love only!

      Hey, fantastic. So why does that require a magic books and mythology and other assorted irrational chicanery to believe in? Speaking of all that love what not, how is that cannibalism coming along? How much of the dead zombie jebus have you imbibed recently and felt his warm earthy glow?

      Your apologetics for your zombie-worship are weak and seem to have an endpoint roughly translated as “it makes me feel good and special”. That is nice, but the rotten edifice that religion is built on spoils it and should give one serious pause before attempting to rationally endorse or defend it.

      Comment by The Arbourist — January 22, 2011 @ 11:25 am | Reply

      • You clearly do not understand religion and that is the reason for your anger. I”m sorry that you’ve had a tough life and one without love….but why do you want to bring everyone else down with you. It just proves that religion is needed…no one is going to learn it on their own. Look at what Jesus taught…that is what all should be living…love your neighbor as yourself! If we treated others the way we want to be treated…it would be an amazing place to live!

        Cannibalism….really now! You have been terribly mislead and really need a basic religion course first. I am sorry you are unhappy.

        Comment by 4amzgkids — January 22, 2011 @ 7:53 pm

      • You clearly do not understand religion and that is the reason for your anger.

        Not anger persay, but rather mildly annoyed as being patronized by the deluded makes my irony meter throb a lovely shade of yellow. Religion is the irrational belief in magic. It has no basis in fact, and really no place in the 21st century.

        I”m sorry that you’ve had a tough life and one without love….but why do you want to bring everyone else down with you. It just proves that religion is needed…no one is going to learn it on their own.

        Wow, what an amazingly droll assumption about me and my life, thank you I shall file that along with the horoscope I read about how my day would be today. Bring everyone down? You mean to a level where we are not believing in magic, sky-daddies and zombies? That level is called reality and I do embrace that with vigour and passion.

        Look at what Jesus taught…that is what all should be living…love your neighbor as yourself

        Like most of the religiously challenged you cherry pick the nice bits and misrepresent them as the whole religion. Jeebus, in all of his glory also brought about the construct we know as hell and the lovely idea of eternal damnation. Kinda hard to square with that love your neighbour bit on the overall scale of how religion is “good” for people, which viewed rationally it clearly is not.

        If we treated others the way we want to be treated…it would be an amazing place to live!

        Absolutely. This point of view summed up by the Categorical Imperative by Immanuel Kant, would be nice plus no mythology involved.

        Cannibalism….really now! You have been terribly mislead and really need a basic religion course first.

        Well either you believe in communion and the host and all that hand-waving, or you do not. Clearly if the wine is not the blood of christ and the wafer not his body then rationally you have taken a step away from believing in magic and the delusion that religion is. Congratulations.

        I am sorry you are unhappy.

        Not really particularly unhappy, but I do like calling the religious on their mendacity and belief in the mystical, because basing any notion on such supercilious beliefs needs to be exposed and examined and ultimately debunked to show how insipid the illusion actually is.

        Comment by The Arbourist — January 23, 2011 @ 12:42 am

  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_and_homosexuality

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 22, 2011 @ 4:00 am | Reply

    • wikipedia….where anyone can write what they like and have it added into the commentary…let’s be realistic here!

      Comment by 4amzgkids — January 22, 2011 @ 7:54 pm | Reply

      • Arbourist – wow – magic, you are right billions believe and that makes us wrong and you right – laughable.

        The a great sum of people used to believe that women were not people and people of different skin colour were less than human (often with unflinching religious support as well.) Your argument is fallacious, as it is an appeal to Popularity. So, then the ball remains in your court as you still have to defend why believing in magic and mythology is a good thing.

        Jesus is real, lived here among us and it is all documented and historically proven – so again, please do your research.

        It is you who are making the case for jeebus and therefore it is you who must substantiate your claim with evidence. Specifically tell me about him coming back to life after being dead. I imagine without invoking magic, it would be fairly hard to explain.

        Read the New Testament – even if you believe it to be fiction, it is a good read – then see what is taught by Jesus throughout and then make assumptions. You clearly have no understanding.

        Clearly the bible is whatever you decide to make it out to be, because if read literally then it is quite an misogynistic,genocidal, bloodbath. Furthermore, if you are interpreting and selecting the “good” passages and just using those rather than the whole corpus which endorses nasty little features such as slavery (in the old and new testament to boot), then it seem to be you who needs to brush up on the bible.

        Jesus is hidden in the wine and bread – it is a mystery and there is much to read on that as well. Jesus comes into your body and soul – just as God is in all!! No matter how much you hate.

        So is it or is it not the blood and body or christ? That should be fairly easy to answer.

        Again, you seem to conflate skepticism with hate. The evidence simply is not there to make the case for belief in jesus or his sky-daddy. To believe something despite evidence to the contrary is irrational.

        Those that are damned just never see God and those would be murderers, etc…that were not repentent prior to death.

        So it is okay by you to send people to *eternal* punishment? That is kind of a sadist belief no?

        Why should they see God which is LOVE when they are clearly haters?

        I’m curious what part of god’s love did the Canaanites get? I guess being run through is god’s tough love then? I dunno if you can really say god is love while he is also all about the genocide at same time; well actually you can because delusional behaviour does make allowances for inconsistencies in argumentation.

        Comment by The Arbourist — January 23, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

    • Arbourist – wow – magic, you are right billions believe and that makes us wrong and you right – laughable. Jesus is real, lived here among us and it is all documented and historically proven – so again, please do your research.

      Read the New Testament – even if you believe it to be fiction, it is a good read – then see what is taught by Jesus throughout and then make assumptions. You clearly have no understanding. I do like how you write though – thought I’d comment on that – you must be a writer of some sort.

      In the NT Jesus tells us to take his flesh and eat and his blood and drink and the aramaic term for eat in the bible is to gnaw….so it is literal. Jesus is hidden in the wine and bread – it is a mystery and there is much to read on that as well. Jesus comes into your body and soul – just as God is in all!! No matter how much you hate.

      Those that are damned just never see God and those would be murderers, etc…that were not repentent prior to death. So yes, that makes sense. Why should they see God which is LOVE when they are clearly haters?

      Comment by 4amzgkids — January 23, 2011 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

      • “Arbourist – wow – magic, you are right billions believe and that makes us wrong and you right – laughable.”

        Does this mean the sun actually does go around a flat earth?

        “Jesus is hidden in the wine and bread…”

        Yeah and the pixies are hidden at the bottom of my garden! You want people to take you seriously, and you believe that there is an invisible being hidden in your bread – you need to get a grip on reality. Who says Jesus is in your wine and bread? Have you actually testing this hypothesis? Can you actually test it? Have you seen him in there? Is the bread and wine better or worse than animal sacrifice for gaining a revelation?

        “Those that are damned just never see God and those would be murderers, etc…that were not repentent prior to death.”

        So are you saying here – that according to your beliefs, I can go out and murder and rape as many people as I like as long as I am repentant – before I die? What sort of reasoning is this?

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 23, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

      • ranter – yes, the flesh and blood is scientifically proven. Look up Miracles of the Eucharist – photos and all.

        Yes, if you are TRULY repentant you will be forgiven.

        sun around a flat earth? was that ever historically proven? ummmm…NO!

        Comment by 4amzgkids — January 24, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

      • ranter – yes, the flesh and blood is scientifically proven

        Citation needed. Just as a corollary, the burden of proof lies on you. So please reference the site/pictures where scientists and skeptics have proven that bread and wine magically turns into blood and flesh. The problem is that is most likely, it is false, photoshopped fraud meant for true believers like yourself. On another note, did you really just say science supported transubstantiation? Because that is news to me and the rest of the rational world.

        sun around a flat earth? was that ever historically proven? ummmm…NO!

        Here is an easy one, how old is the earth? Just curious.

        Comment by The Arbourist — January 25, 2011 @ 4:30 am

  6. If you say so 4amzkids – you must be right; but I think you should check how wikipedia actually works before you comment on the quality of its information. Besides the wiki entry cites the bible sections and other links to religion and homosexuality some of them support your view, some of them do not.

    You need to learn the difference between reading biased articles and drawing their conclusion, and reading unbiased articles and drawing your OWN conclusions.

    The religions of the world do identify homosexuality as a sin, or perverted or whatever – they single out this type of sexuality as different, as less pure – and therefore it is no surprise that people who follow religion generally (but not always) use this as a basis to judge and treat others with a lesser respect than they deserve.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 23, 2011 @ 3:01 am | Reply

    • You must look at both sides and come up with your own conclusions -yes, this is what I do!

      I highly doubt that as all conclusions that clearly show the irrationality of your belief are dismissed or ignored. This is the illusion of openmindedness. You continue to defend the magic and mysticism that in this modern age, really has no leg to stand on but realize it is a irrational pursuit.

      Comment by The Arbourist — January 23, 2011 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  7. No – Christianity does not! People have interpreted that in their own way. So please understand religion before beating it up! In the bible, Jesus even says that those should come and follow him – so get it right. Wikipedia in ALL COLLEGES – they tell you not to use it because you can change the information. Maybe you should try it yourself. We have done it! You must look at both sides and come up with your own conclusions -yes, this is what I do!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 23, 2011 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

  8. “No – Christianity does not!”

    Really, so the apostles are wrong then?

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+1%3A24-27&version=NIV

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 23, 2011 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

    • Please use reliable sources and then get back to me 🙂

      Comment by 4amzgkids — January 24, 2011 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

      • Please use reliable sources and then get back to me

        Perhaps it may be time for you to share your sources with us. I’m very curious as to the ‘proof'(testable, repeatable, falsifiable) you have amassed to justify your belief in magic. Because right now, you’re not answering questions, dodging arguments and really falling back on the central idea that if you believe it, it must be true.

        The uncharitable attitude, the embrace of the mystically irrational, is delusional behaviour and is precisely why there must be a barrier between church and state. Magical thinking has no place in a modern state.

        So please, if wish to argue, please use something other than “jesus says so”, because that, most certainly, is not valid argumentation.

        Comment by The Arbourist — January 25, 2011 @ 4:41 am

      • visit my blog and read the articles and links

        Comment by 4amzgkids — January 26, 2011 @ 9:31 am

      • Have you read that last link and the source?

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 26, 2011 @ 1:07 pm

  9. 4amzgkids, I sit perplexed at your obtuseness about the depth and scope of the horror perpetrated against children by this insititution. I know you rationalize it as a few bad people but utterly fail to account for the systemic policies that allowed the tormenting of children to go on and on and on and on and on and on… I think it takes a remarkable stance of willful blindness to excuse in any way the Catholic Church’s culpability AS AN INSTITUTION. I think you have mixed up the Church with your belief in the presumed goodness of Jesus and equate the two. This is very muddled thinking and an extraordinarily selective kind of intellectual cherry picking to rationalize the horror that the Church and its theology has enabled. You won’t face what’s true to excuse your continued support of this dysfunction criminal organization called the Catholic Church and attempt to label those who do as the problem. You have it exactly backwards.

    It is interesting and supportive of my position to note what Sam Harris, who has been rather quiet about the RC abuse cases of late, says in his most recent offering The Moral Landscape in end note 14 for the first chapter. He is more eloquent that I. I quote only in part:

    But there was always more to this phenomena that should have compelled my attention. Consider the ludicrous ideology that made it possible: the Catholic Church has spent two millennia demonizing human sexuality to a degree unmatched by any other institution, declaring the most basic, healthy, mature, and consensual behaviours taboo. Indeed, this organization still opposes the use of contraception: preferring, instead, that the poorest people on earth be blessed with the largest families and the shortest lives. As a consequence of this hallowed and incorrigible stupidity, the Church has condemned generations of decent people to shame and hypocrisy – or to Neolithic fecundity, poverty, and death by AIDS. Add to this inhumanity the artifice of cloistered celibacy, and you now have an institution – one of the wealthiest on earth – that preferentially attracts pederasts, pedophiles, and sexual sadists into its ranks, promotes them to positions of authority, and grants them privileged access to children. Finally, consider the vast numbers of children will be born out of wedlock, and their unwed mothers vilified, to be abandoned to Church-run orphanages only to be raped and terrorized by the clergy. Here, in this ghoulish machinery set to whirling through the ages by the opposiong winds of shame and sadism, we mortals can finally glimpse how strangely perfect are the ways of the Lord.

    In 2009, the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA) investigated such of these events as occurred on Irish soil. Their report runs to 2,600 pages. Having read only an oppressive fraction of this document, I can say that when thinking about the ecclesiastical abuse of children, it is best not to imagine shades of ancient Athens and the blandishments of a “love that dare not speak its name.” Yes, there have surely been polite pederasts in the priesthood, expressing anguished affection for boys who would turn eighteen the next morning. But behind these indescretions there is acontinuum of abuse that terminates in absolute evil. The scandal in the Catholic Church – one might now safely say the scandalthat is the Catholic Church – includes the systemic rape and torture of orphaned and disabled children. Its victims attest to being whipped with belts and sodomized until bloody – sometimes by multiple attackers – and then whipped again and threatened with death and hellfire if they breathed a word about their abuse. And yes, many of the children who were desperate or courageous enough to report these crimes were accused of lying and returned to their tormentors to be raped and tortured again.

    The evidence suggests that the misery of these children was facilitated and concealed by the hierarchy of the Catholic church at every level up to and including the prefrontal cortex of the current pope. In his former capacity as Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict personally oversaw the Vatican’s response to reports of sexual abuse in the Church. What did this wise and compassionate man do upon learning that his employees were raping children by the thousands? Did he immediately alert the police and ensure that the victims would be protected from further torments? One still dares to imagine such an effulgence of basic human sanity might have been possible, even within the Church. On the contrary, repeated and increasingly desperate complaints of abuse were set aside, witnesses were pressured into silence, bishops were praised for their defiance of secular authority, and offending priests were relocated only to destroy fresh lives in unsuspecting parishes. It is no exaggeration to say that for decades (if not centuries) the Vatican has met the formal definition of a criminal organization devoted – not to gambling, prostitution, drugs, or any other venal sin – but to the sexual enslavement of children.

    [A few specific horrors of repeated rape and torment from the CICA report is reproduced…]

    This is kind of abuse that the Church has practiced and concealed since time out of memory. Even the CICA report declined to name the offending priests.

    I have been awakened from my unconscionable slumber on this issue by recent press reports […] and especially by the eloquence of my colleagues Christopher Hitchens […] and Richard Dawkins […].

    Comment by tildeb — January 25, 2011 @ 9:25 am | Reply

  10. I ABSOLUTELY do not think that what has happened in the church is excusable and you and I have been through this. YOU do need to look at both sides though. That is the point I continually try to make with people. You cannot listen to one side and think you have all of the evidence. The liberal left LIES over and over again and you fail to see that which is extremely concerning. How can anyone with an intellect be so blind? What I’m saying as well is that you cannot blame the church for a few peoples misdeeds. It does not mean that what they teach is wrong….these were sick men hiding in the church. Do you have a link to this article from CICA…Wow!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 26, 2011 @ 9:36 am | Reply

    • You can find the report here.

      Comment by tildeb — January 26, 2011 @ 9:53 am | Reply

    • You assume that any conclusion other than your own means the person holding the conclusion is one-sided or only looks at one side. That’s factually wrong. This assertion you repeatedly make is in error. Gross error willfully made to excuse the institution for its policy procedures by shifting blame for the actions of the misdeeds to individuals while at the same time completely ignoring the vatican’s cover-up and bullying of victims and institutional actions to enable more abuse. You, not others, are ignoring this ‘side’ of the issue.

      The conclusion about culpability by both individuals and the institution that employed them is arrived at after looking at all the evidence. This naturally includes all ‘sides’. Your assertion that one cannot blame the church – the institution – for the misdeeds of these sick men is not a reasonable conclusion because the evidence is overwhelming that the policies to deal with these ‘sick men’ was one of enabling the abuse to continue while actively helping to protect these criminals from prosecution. This was done by the church, by those church agents who were responsible for exercising the church’s power, who did so by the authority of the vatican as an institution. That makes the church culpable. One of the church officers who helped enable the continuation of the abuse, who wrote the policies followed by so many to shield accused criminals from prosecution was not some guy ‘hiding’ in the church; that person has been promoted right to the top and currently sits as pope (but JPII was just as if not more guilty of doing the same enabling over a much longer period of time). If there is anyone who refuses to see the evidence as it really is, I’m afraid it’s you, 4amzkids. In theological terms, you’ve made the church into your idol and now worship a false god.

      Comment by tildeb — January 26, 2011 @ 10:08 am | Reply

      • You HAVE not taken into consideration both sides.

        I suggest you stop using this particular tact when debating or arguing with people. Taking into consideration both sides of the issue is but one aspect of critical thinking. Evaluating arguments on the basis of evidence provided and deciding which better describes the truth of the matter is far more important step.

        Furthermore, critical thinking entails the ability to change ones mind based on the evidence presented. I highly doubt that you come to the table with any of the features of critical thinking in place, but rather a preconceived and unchangeable notion of what is right.

        If god is exists and is omnipotent why has he never once healed an amputee in the thousands of years of human existence? Something as small and cosmically insignificant as a single human limb, that would do much to prove his existence, this should not be a problem for the alleged creator of the Universe.

        You HAVE not taken into consideration both sides.

        I have looked into your blog and would ask that you take your own advice as many of your assertions are taken to task by tildeb and almost in every case you ignore his evidence and argumentation and state your own particularly dogmatic view of the issue (repeatedly it seems)as opposed to actually evaluating competing claims on their merit. Why? Because you already have the answer(?). Your claims are informed by irrational belief in entities that most likely do not exist or are simply unprovable aka magic. So we have delusional belief and religious fairy tales on one side and factual reality on the other; which is better?

        Comment by The Arbourist — January 29, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  11. Have you lost your mind? Worship the church?? NO – but I do believe what they teach. You HAVE not taken into consideration both sides. It is clearly explained and makes sense…You are choosing to side with the haters as usual. You find every negative thing you can and you run with it. Never do I see any good news coming out of this blog – why breed hate tildeb? Isn’t there enough of that in the world already?

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 28, 2011 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

    • Worship the church?? NO – but I do believe what they teach.

      Apparently you also believe in inconsistency as well.

      You HAVE not taken into consideration both sides.

      You have not provided any information or evidence to disprove what has been said so far.

      You are choosing to side with the haters as usual. You find every negative thing you can and you run with it.

      This looks like an argument against the ‘tone’ of this particular thread, but nothing particularly substantive. Were you expecting a warm reception? Would someone claiming that hobbits and elves *really do exist* be taken seriously without evidence and proof other than ‘the Silmarillion says so’?

      why breed hate tildeb? Isn’t there enough of that in the world already?

      Why believe and support an institution that is actively promoting human misery and delusion thinking? The hate in the world would decrease significantly if we could get the religious inanity out of the way and people would stop killing themselves over whose sky-fairy is better.

      Comment by The Arbourist — January 29, 2011 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  12. “NO – but I do believe what they teach.”

    Are you sure…

    Here’s an example from Matthew 18:7-9:

    “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 29, 2011 @ 2:39 am | Reply

  13. All this means is don’t sin…not literally take your eye out! Get the message – that’s what it’s all about.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 30, 2011 @ 11:44 am | Reply

    • How convenient – to take things literally or not depending on what you think the text says or how it will be interpreted…

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 30, 2011 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

    • So tell me, 4amzgkids, which passages we are to take metaphorically (an eye for an eye) and which we are take literally (Jesus ‘rose’ from the dead)? If you suggest we look to church authorities, then my question is why should we trust them? You seem to think we should… which is why I accused you of having ‘faith’ in the church when we have ample evidence that such trust is obviously misplaced. So we are left wondering by what independent method that is reliable and consistent and of practical use we can figure out this scriptural puzzle of what should be taken literally and what figuratively. All I know is that your insistence that we place our trust in the rc church is not only grossly misguided but is part and parcel of the larger problem that IS the church and its hugely negative effect in the world we inhabit. It has less moral authority than you, less than I, less than any other decent human being who exhibits honest and caring concern for others in this world. And it has less moral authority because the church has elevated it’s concern over our immortal souls above and beyond our human rights, equalities, freedoms, and dignity in this world. The inevitable result is that such an arrogant and unjustified claim to authority is, at the root of such a faith-based belief, a great evil in practice.

      Comment by tildeb — January 30, 2011 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

      • “So tell me which passages we are to take metaphorically (an eye for an eye) and which we are take literally (Jesus ‘rose’ from the dead)?”

        You know, I think you got it backwards. As far as I know when “an eye for an eye” was written originally, it was rather progressive. Before that it had been more along the lines of “a life for an insult” and saying that the wronged could only demand retribution up to the level of his own damages was an attempt to replace revenge with something akin to justice.

        On the other hand that the physical body of Jesus got up again and walked around is pretty clearly just a metaphor… even if for whatever reason it really would had happened – which I find hard to believe – what does it matter. You’re not Jesus, I’m not Jesus. What do we care. But if Jesus is representative of the divine within the human, of the eternal within the temporal, of God incarnate in every one of us, then it would mean that we each have to die – have to cast aside the body of our old beliefs and values and ideas – to be reborn into a better, purer life, and to partake of the eternal.

        The concept of a cycle of death and rebirth is ancient. It shows us how our temporal physical form is just a part of something much vaster, how every organism dies and how its death participates in the renewal of life. It is no wonder that Jesus birth is celebrated in the darkest night, and his death and rebirth at the cusp of spring, for the winter solstice and the greening of the land are both powerful visual reminder that even in the darkest hour – even in the face of our own death – we can find comfort in the fact that life goes on. And now that I have a child of my own to care, even one not of my loins, but only of my heart, of I must say that this is a comfort much greater than I would have thought possible.

        The fact that it is a metaphor doesn’t make it any less true, does it? Have you not died, a thousand times, shed the skin of old beliefs to be reborn in the wisdom of new knowledge? Have you not let go of old, comfortable roles and identities, to grow into more mature ones? Isn’t the slow and painful death of the medieval world, and the re-naissance of classical thought the very ground from which the shoots of enlightenment and science have sprung that you treasure so much?

        Of course the specific Christian story of rebirth and eternal life is one that offers a very special set of “new” rules, and values, and identites, and promisses us that by casting off the old life and taking up the new, we will touch and eventually join the eternal.

        “So we are left wondering by what independent method that is reliable and consistent and of practical use we can figure out this scriptural puzzle of what should be taken literally and what figuratively.”

        Well, I thought that it was pretty clear to someone so empirically minded like you. Give it a try. You’ll see if it works. Of course, you can’t fake sincerity, that is the one “rigorous disciple” actually required. Sort of the final test, the one that most wanna-be-believers fail, and then end up with blinding dogma, unable to check if it works against reality.

        “the larger problem that IS the church and its hugely negative effect in the world”

        Aye, The Church as a power structure doesn’t actually want anyone to succeed, no more than “The State” wants citizens to truly practice freedom and democracy. But even within the RC, next to those armies of paedophile priests, flocks of sadistic nuns, and hordes of corrupt bishops, are a few peeps who actually want their fellow humans to recieve that Blessed Sacrament of spiritual rebirth that leads to happiness, instead of bigotry and murder. Though they do seem to be rather fw and far between.

        “The inevitable result is that such an arrogant and unjustified claim to authority is, at the root of such a faith-based belief, a great evil in practice.”

        Indubitably. (Though I am still damn curious what non-faith-based belief leads you to the certainty that the golden rule is somehow morally superiour.)

        Comment by FreeFox — February 6, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  14. Arbourist- http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/mir/a3.html

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 30, 2011 @ 11:50 am | Reply

    • The only miracle in this lot is the fact that there are people on this earth in the 21st century that believe such a load of tripe. If you go to a magic show do you believe that the dude doing the tricks can really do magic – or do you realise it is a trick?

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 30, 2011 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  15. Dating in the Bible is a bit difficult because, for the span of time that the Bible covers, a universal calendar was not in use. Time was measured relative to local events, such as how long the current king was in power. This also led to rounding of dates since it would be rare that major events, such as the crowing of a king would take place precisely at the beginning of a calendar year. Therefore, when working backwards, you can be off plus or minus a year times the number of events you had to use to go backwards. For example, if you went back to a point in time using the length of reign of five kings, you can be off plus or minus five years.

    Fortunately, the Bible contains several summaries of eras that helps to keep overall periods roughly accurate. For example, we know the length of time the Israelites were in Egypt was 430 years (Exodus 12:40-41). We also know the time from the Exodus to the building of the temple was 480 years (I Kings 6:1).

    Using the records given in the Scriptures, scholars have estimated that the world is roughly 6,000 years old.

    Now that is not the estimate we are told the scientific community accepts. Currently, popular scientists think the world is 4.5 billion years old, though that age constantly changes. When I was in high school, it was only 3.5 billion years old, a change of a billion years — and I haven’t lived nearly that long!

    What many people do not realize is that there are thousands of ways to measure the age of the earth. The ones popularly touted are only those few that give very long answers. The vast majority of measurements give ages in the 10,000 year range!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 30, 2011 @ 11:51 am | Reply

    • Please remember arbourist that all of science – time lines, age of rock, etc…are THEORIES

      Gravity is also “only a theory”. I would not suggest you test it by self-defenestration, as I am reasonably sure of the results.

      Theories represent the the best and most accurate picture of reality we have, they are testable, verifiable and falsifiable. Precisely because they can change, makes them immensely more useful than religious doctrine, which by definition is unchangeable and also by that fact false. Unless you’ve seen a talking burning bush on the news dispensing godly wisdom as of late, then I should indeed be corrected.

      Women for instance have been second class citizens for much of human history because of the patriarchal features of religion. Most of the time when there is secularization of society, the separation of church and state and embrace of modernity do women’s rights follow. Religion is the antithesis of progress.

      Comment by The Arbourist — January 30, 2011 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

    • There are obvious discrepancies like the motivation for Joseph moving about with Mary – the census claim is bogus, the naming of kings is factually incorrect, and so. You are just trying to muddy the waters by claiming it a problem with the calendar. Sorry, that doesn’t wash. The absence of any anthropological evidence for any jewish migration from Egypt doesn’t bolster the case that such a migration actually happened. So much for assuming that the exodus actually happened.

      As for bizarre explanation about how the “majority of measurements give ages in the 10,000 year range” is – for lack of a better word – a lie. It is a bald and bold lie. It is factually wrong and intentionally misleading.

      When we gather age-related data using various kinds of dating methods, we are looking for what is called a movement towards consensus. In other words, how well does ice core dating and sediment deposits with pollen counts in each layer of the ice correlate with land-based sediment evidence half a world away? If the two match up year for year and we can count 170,000 layers before the specific data runs out, how can this remarkable ‘correlation’ be squared in any way with claims that 10,000 years is as reasonable? How can the 10,000 year claims explain this powerful evidence? And, of course, when one begins to total up all the mutually enhancing and compatible evidence from many data streams (below the layers in sediments that correlate directly with ice cores are the fossilized remains of even older critters in layers of rock we can date to tens and hundreds of millions of years old), there can be no reasonable doubt that the earth is very old, much older than the silly idea that the earth is only 10,000 years old. The point here is that the claim that the data for a very old earth is reliant only on TOUTED dating methods – as if other methods offer a better explanation – is highly misleading. It’s the DATA that counts and not the BELIEF about which method is preferred.

      Comment by tildeb — January 30, 2011 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

    • “Currently, popular scientists think the world is 4.5 billion years old…”

      And how do you think they have estimated that age? I think you need to read up on this – because the answer to this question has a very interesting historical research path.

      You do realise for example that dendrochronology can date the age of forests to 11,500 years – and this is just one study.

      Then there is radioactive clocks – i.e. the measure of the decay of radioactive isotopes… funny thing is we know a lot about radioactive decay – for example we know that Carbon-14 decays to Nitrogen-14 – carbon-14 has a half life of 5,730 years.

      However, this is only one measure – there are in fact 150 stable isotopes and 158 unstable ones making 308 in total – all of which provide measures and dating techniques that place the age of the earth far greater than 10,000 years.

      Now before you dispute this – just think about what you are saying – you are saying that some idiot in a hat, that reads a dusty old book and spouts mumbo jumbo knows more about nuclear decay than a nuclear scientist. Just think for a minute what benefit the understanding of nuclear decay has brought to society – and instead of blowing all of this aside in favour of nothing provable, nothing useful – why don’t you go out by a book and read about it.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 31, 2011 @ 3:04 am | Reply

  16. Please remember arbourist that all of science – time lines, age of rock, etc…are THEORIES

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 30, 2011 @ 11:52 am | Reply

    • Arrrrrrgggghhh….

      In science, a theory is THE MOST POWERFUL EXPLANATION WE HAVE, the one that offers us an explanation that works consistently, reliably, and offers us practical uses.

      In the land of 4amzgkids, a theory means ‘belief’.

      When we are talking about scientific theories, please use the first understanding and not the second.

      Comment by tildeb — January 30, 2011 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

    • Yep just like the theory of continental drift, and germ theory – gravity, electromagnitism… all just theories… the trouble is that the word ‘theory’ means a hypothesis that is supported by evidence…. God is not a theory, it is a hypothesis – i.e. an idea that has no evidence to back it up what so ever.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 30, 2011 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

    • THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC proof that we evolved or with how life began – formation of earth, etc..it is all theory…re create it all for me in a lab.

      Firstly, evolution how life evolves over time and abiogenesis – how life started are two separate and distinct fields. Addressing them as one unit shows fundamental lack of knowledge of what the two fields are actually about and the evidence they contain.

      re create it all for me in a lab.

      Allow me to quote Calilasseia from RichardDawkins.net as you have managed to hit on a (many)common and of course specious, creationist talking points:

      “[23] The asinine “were you there?” canard.

      This canard is particularly loathed here, not only because it is about as palsied and cretinous a canard as it’s possible to erect, but because it is also manifestly dishonest. Dishonest because of the inherent double standard that supernaturalists in general, and creationists in particular, adopt when deploying this canard. Namely, that they think it is perfectly legitimate to hand-wave away massive amounts of hard evidence from observational reality using this duplicitous rhetorical device, yet expect the critical thinkers to accept without question the unsupported blind assertions of their mythology, which makes fantastic claims about the past history of the universe that by definition were not only unobserved, but impossible to verify empirically because those claims involve magic. If you think that this double standard is legitimate, be prepared to have your discoursive dishonesty subject to withering critical scrutiny.

      Now, having dealt with the dishonesty at the heart of this canard, I’ll deal with why it is asinine. This canard is beneath deserving of a point of view for one simple reason. Physical processes leave behind them physical evidence of their having taken place. This is a basic scientific fact, one that science has relied upon for 300 years in order to make sense of the real world, and denial of this basic fact once again merely demonstrates that you are more interested in propping up a doctrine than learning about the real world. Furthermore, physical evidence of the occurrence of particular processes is frequently persistent, which means that said evidence remains in place for a long period of time, including periods of time that are orders of magnitude greater than that asserted to have existed by your ideology. Once again, scientists, and those here who accept the results of the diligent labours of those scientists, aren’t interested in doctrinal assertions, they are interested in reality, and if reality sticks the middle finger to doctrinal assertions, tough.

      That physical processes leave behind them evidence of their having taken place, and that said evidence is persistent enough to await our attention, are basic principles that are relied upon by branches of science as diverse as geology and forensics, and if you want to assert that those principles are false, good luck with this, given the massive amount of evidence supporting those basic principles. As a corollary of this, if you erect the “were you there” nonsense in a thread, you will be in no position to complain when the critical thinkers subject the combination of scientific ignorance and discoursive mendacity inherent in this canard to withering attention.”

      Wow, almost a video tailored to the nature of this ‘debate’.

      Some evidence for evolution, in a palatable form.

      re create it all for me in a lab.

      LoL. Is this a challenge? Really? Evolution can be witnessed over time in generations of bacteria. They results and observations are at a level of specificity and precision (direct evidence of precise gene that changes and its expressed/latent effects) that yet again reinforce the massive amount of evidence that already exists for evolutionary theory. Your skepticism is misplaced.

      You will also be very famous when you find the missing link – but wait, you must have it already – you are sure you are right.

      The fossil record canard the missing link? Cas take it away, yet again…

      “[14] The “no transitional forms” canard.

      In order to deal with this one, I have the following to ask. Namely:

      [1] Have you ever studied comparative anatomy in detail, at a proper, accredited academic institution?

      [2] Do you understand rigorously what is meant by “species”?

      [3] Do you understand even the basics of inheritance and population genetics?

      [4] Do you understand the basics of the workings of meiosis?

      If you cannot answer “yes” to all four of the above, then you are in no position to erect this canard. And, canard it is, as anyone with a proper understanding of the dynamic nature of species will readily understand, a topic I have posted at length on in the past. Indeed, you only have to ask yourself the following question, “Am I identical to either of my parents?” in order to alight quickly upon why this canard IS a canard. Your own family photo album supplies you with the answer here. YOU are a “transitional form” between your parents and your offspring, should you have any offspring”

      If things were put into motion to be created-how were they put into motion?

      The venerable First Cause Argument – The Zombie Argument that just won’t die.

      So then what caused the first cause? This is a patently absurd self-refuting argument of the first degree, and not a valid tool to argue with. Unless you are arguing against the omnipotence of god, as what the actual argument works out to be…

      First-cause arguments

      First cause arguments are described as self-refuting. For example, the philosopher Theodore Schick suggests that an argument by Thomas Aquinas can be formulated in the following terms:

      1. Everything is caused by something other than itself
      2. Therefore the universe was caused by something other than itself.
      3. The string of causes cannot be infinitely long.
      4. If the string of causes cannot be infinitely long, there must be a first cause.
      5. Therefore, there must be a first cause, namely a divine entity.

      – and suggests that this is self-refuting because “if everything has a cause other than itself, then God must have a cause other than himself. But if God has a cause other than himself, he cannot be the first cause. So if the first premise is true, the conclusion must be false.”.[21]

      How is our entire system set up for life so perfectly? perfect distance from the sun, perfect air conditions, the atmosphere, etc..

      The Anthropic Argument? I would be getting close to a black out if we were playing creationist canard bingo.

      “Many criticisms focus on versions of the Strong Anthropic Principle, such as Barrett and Tipler’s anthropic cosmological principle, which are teleological notions that tend to describe the existence of life as a necessary prerequisite for the observable constants of physics. In a lecture titled “The Confusion of Cause and Effect in Bad Science,” the paleophysicist Caroline Miller said:[58]

      “The Anthropic Principle is based on the underlying belief that the universe was created for our benefit. Unfortunately for its adherents, all of the reality-based evidence at our disposal contradicts this belief. In a nonanthropocentric universe, there is no need for multiple universes or supernatural entities to explain life as we know it.”

      Similarly, Stephen Jay Gould [59] ,[60] Michael Shermer[61] and others claim that the stronger versions of the Anthropic Principle seem to reverse known causes and effects. Gould compared the claim that the universe is fine-tuned for the benefit of our kind of life to saying that sausages were made long and narrow so that they could fit into modern hotdog buns, or saying that ships had been invented to house barnacles. These critics cite the vast physical, fossil, genetic, and other biological evidence consistent with life having been fine-tuned through natural selection to adapt to the physical and geophysical environment in which life exists. Life appears to have adapted to physics, and not vice versa.”

      So yes, I choose along with billions of others since the beginning of time to believe in God. I’m sorry you choose the path followed by so few.

      And so do sheep. Argumentum ad populum is a fallacy of reasoning. Just because a lot of people believe it to be correct does not make the argument in question correct. Do you believe that a colour of person’s skin determines whether or not they are granted human status? Or that women are also fully human and deserve rights. Travel back not more than 150 years you and your billions of others would deny basic human rights to people with dark skin and the female population of the earth. These counter examples are exactly the same as what you postulated and the results in both my examples and yours are most horrifying.

      There is a reason for this – not sure what it is in your case but I will pray for you.

      Then it falls on us, or specifically me as I cannot speak for the others, to think for you as it seems, at least so for you have abandoned reason and rationality for magic, apologetics and mysticism.

      I have placed tons of evidence the other way on my blog for all that you are mentioning here…

      The few nuggets of “wisdom” you have left here were dismantled in 20 minutes with some basic critical thinking skills and some rudimentary google-fu.

      Must every canard be dispatched…strike that…every canard has been dispatched, but that is not the issue. The issue here is that even when presented with reasonable evidence you are not ready to change your beliefs. In essence, plugging your ears and shutting down your rationality, because there is no recourse when it comes to religious belief other than to embrace irrationality and belief in magic.

      Just do not be surprised when others do not take you seriously because magic and mysticism have no place in the 21st century or in rational debate.

      Tildeb has NEVER proven anything to me as all of his arguments can be explained away.

      If the debate was actually conducted on rational grounds with evidence being the basis of what is judged to be the better argument, tildeb (along with rationality and reality) would win hands down.

      I just do not want to give up on him. I want him to believe 🙂

      I think you have solidified his belief and mine that arguing with the deluded is generally a waste of time. I’ll still rise to the challenge though, as irrationality, delusionally magical thinking must always be challenged, scorned and called out in public discourse to show the inherent mendacity that permeates its rotten edifice known as religion and religious belief.

      Comment by The Arbourist — January 30, 2011 @ 2:41 pm | Reply

  17. Arbourist – for some reason there’s no reply button by your comments so they are here

    You and tildeb both refuse to look at the proof on the other side. THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC proof that we evolved or with how life began – formation of earth, etc..it is all theory…re create it all for me in a lab. You will also be very famous when you find the missing link – but wait, you must have it already – you are sure you are right. If things were put into motion to be created-how were they put into motion? There are too many unanswered questions that cannot be proven. How is our entire system set up for life so perfectly? perfect distance from the sun, perfect air conditions, the atmosphere, etc.. So yes, I choose along with billions of others since the beginning of time to believe in God. I’m sorry you choose the path followed by so few. There is a reason for this – not sure what it is in your case but I will pray for you. I have placed tons of evidence the other way on my blog for all that you are mentioning here…Tildeb has NEVER proven anything to me as all of his arguments can be explained away. I just do not want to give up on him. I want him to believe 🙂

    Comment by 4amzgkids — January 30, 2011 @ 12:01 pm | Reply

    • There is no ‘proof’ on the ‘other’ side because the ‘other’ side only exists in wishful thinking and metaphysical musings. That you have chosen to infuse this ‘other’ side with your belief does not explain the evidence we have and the explanation we have developed, does not undermine the uses we put to this understanding, does not offer anything useful in its place. What you offer is in summation a return to ignorance and superstition that you happen to favour. This is neither a sufficient nor beneficial exchange but a theological position of faith-based errors that must be confronted whenever it enters the public domain.

      Comment by tildeb — January 30, 2011 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

      • Last post was in the TL;DR zone, but so be it. I’m amazed how often the same arguments come up though. *sigh*

        Comment by The Arbourist — January 30, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

      • Because they are true – hello?? Is anybody in there?

        Comment by 4amzgkids — February 2, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

  18. If there was proof – there would not be lots of religions, there would be one single definitive undisputed religion….

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — January 30, 2011 @ 2:09 pm | Reply

    • Look again – there was ONE religion but humans being human….choose to make thing fit their needs sadly and that is why there are so many different beliefs out there. Seek the truth and you WILL find it!

      Arbourist…those arguments come up because they CANNOT explain anything as you are well aware in the science realm.

      Tildeb – shame on you after all we have been through and discussed as well as the replies you receive from other believers on other websites.It’s a little ridiculous …no a lot ridiculous to think that you are right and BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of others are wrong.

      Comment by 4amzgkids — February 1, 2011 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  19. 4AK – your delusion is almost as unbelievable as the hog wash that you believe. Which religion was the only, undisputed religion – than now everyone disagrees about? And why if you think such a religion existed do people not believe in it anymore – why are there factions in religions, and multiple religions, worshiping different gods and some cases multiple gods (sometimes going to war over it)? And why is the evidence for your invisible unknowing being that you believe you have (but cannot demonstrate) any more valuable than some other loon’s beliefs or witchcraft? What evidence do you have that will prove all the other religious nutters wrong (who are unknowingly worshiping false gods) that will also settle the dispute between the non-believers and the believers in your cult once and for all? What is the evidence for the truth that your particular cult is the right cult to follow?

    We can keep going on with this pantomime – but simply sitting there putting your fingers in your ears and ‘shouting – evolution is not true’ does not invalidate the theory of evolution. Having a lack of the English language and science to a scale where you do not understand the meaning of the word ‘theory’ does not make you wiser and more correct than the scientist that use the theory of evolution for the production of new antibiotics to treat MSRA or gene therapy to assist in the treatment of cystic fibrosis. Where on earth do you think these treatments are used and demonstrated?

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 2, 2011 @ 2:21 am | Reply

  20. ranter – I think you are crazy! A theory is just that a THEORY! No documented proof – a guess. We have religions today that worship many Gods? Now whose delusional? They believe in a supreme being – we choose to call that God – something that put everything into motion and created. You can’t explain it so you believe it is not true – yet you are choosing to believe. If anyone believes in fairies, etc..it is you because you cannot explain your beliefs. I have explained mine and shown mine to you so not sure why you are making the statement above. This is not the first time you and I have discussed this – well – I have discussed it and you have lost your mind over it. Why breed hate?

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 2, 2011 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

    • ranter – I think you are crazy! A theory is just that a THEORY! No documented proof – a guess.

      I assume then you are skeptical of gravity then as well, as it “just a THEORY” as well.

      They believe in a supreme being – we choose to call that God – something that put everything into motion and created.

      First Cause argument, previously refuted but presented again all shiny and new.

      it is you because you cannot explain your beliefs….

      Err…belief in science and rationality is well…fact based. The best picture of what we currently know that accurately reflects reality. Religion – your god (see sky fairy) is not based on fact, it is a human construct as there is no evidence for god nor has there been any reliable evidence to date to prove his existence.

      Why breed hate?

      Because religion breeds intolerance, ignorance and hate intrinsically. Religion is not good for people because it potentially clouds their rationality with wisdom and other assorted nonsense that was written some 2000 years ago. Religion has no place in the 21st century.

      Comment by The Arbourist — February 3, 2011 @ 12:42 am | Reply

      • Science is fact based? Please, please, prove to me evolution and re-create it for me. Show me the missing link – I beg of you!

        Comment by 4amzgkids — February 3, 2011 @ 9:34 am

    • Not heard of the holy Trinity Then? or Hinduism?

      What about Satan – is that not a god like supernatural being? The saints? Holy Mary? Some people pray and worship to all of these beings and spirits – they all are supposed to have supernatural powers are they not?

      Polytheism is also a strong belief among some pagans…

      The problem you have 4AK is that you think your religion is the only religion the only belief – I can introduce you to highly religious people who will tell you that your religion is wrong and that they talk to god every day and tells them that they are right… you and them cannot be both right…

      You might not believe in the god(s) of Hinduism – and in that respect you are an atheist, all I do is extend that non-belief to ‘all’ gods – because NO religion, not one has proved to be beyond reasonable doubt that they are right.

      There may very well be a god – it’s a possibility, but I am not going to base my life’s decisions on it – just as you would not go out tomorrow and start wearing a turban or a burka.

      As for breeding hate – again you are muddled, I don’t hate religion – I just challenge its authority. Religion interferers with our lives – it tries to tell people what is right and what is wrong in the modern world – for example cloning, birth control, sexuality and genetics. In addition, if you scrape away the ‘fluffy’ imagine of religion, you do find some pretty gruesome stuff that has been perpetrated against some very vulnerable people who thought that they would be hospitalised and cared for, or schooled and cared for, or fed and cared for – and actually they were abused psychologically, physically and financially.

      Because of these reasons I challenge the ‘authority’ that religion claims to have and the so called evidence that it claims to have to support that authority. And it is a good job that some people do or the child abusers in the church would not have been challenged or discovered at all – and this is just ONE example of the crimes that have been shielded by ONE religion.

      This is the exact opposite of hate – for me the most important thing in life is to question and reason anything, particularly authority. This is includes people who claim authority because of science, religion or politics. I do what I do because I care about what is right and what is true – not based on hearsay or superstitious rubbish that people cannot demonstrate, but on hard demonstrable evidence.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 3, 2011 @ 2:11 pm | Reply

  21. People have believed in a God from the beginning of time – and Christianity began with Jesus over 2,000 years ago. That was the Catholic church. Read and learn – stop guessing.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 2, 2011 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

    • SO why not believe in Zeus?

      Comment by The Arbourist — February 3, 2011 @ 12:42 am | Reply

      • For some reason I have a hard time with Zeus. Never could figure out what that particular divin mask was supposed to show. The closest I got was Odin. The Gallows’ God of war and witchcraft, death and destiny, toughness and trickery, winter and victory is a strong image of Indomitable Ingenuity, I think, even better than dusty Toth. Though if I had to chose, I suppose I prefer Odin’s female counterpart in Greek Mythology, Athena. Less doomy. And way more sexy (even for a queer bloke) than brawny, brainless Ares. Though I suppose both their influence on our brilliant, self-destructive species is more than apparent. ^_~

        Comment by FreeFox — February 3, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    • Sadly – another clueless individual. Why make jokes and not do the research arbourist?

      Comment by 4amzgkids — February 3, 2011 @ 9:29 am | Reply

    • Were there people around at the beginning of time to believe in anything? What is time? Have you ever stopped to think about what time actually is?

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 3, 2011 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

  22. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03738a.htm

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 2, 2011 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  23. Three quotes by Joseph Campbell:

    “Half the people in the world think that the metaphors of their religious traditions, for example, are facts. And the other half contends that they are not facts at all. As a result we have people who consider themselves believers because they accept metaphors as facts, and we have others who classify themselves as atheists because they think religious metaphors are lies.”

    “There seem to be only two kinds of people: Those who think that metaphors are facts, and those who know that they are not facts. Those who know they are not facts are what we call “atheists,” and those who think they are facts are “religious.” Which group really gets the message?”

    “All religions are true but none are literal.”

    Hey, Tildeb, I like the link at the end of the OP. It may be a touch sophomoric, but I think it does hold an important truth. That we have to take care to be honest to ourselves and not let convenience override truthfulness. But I doubt that the honesty and truthfulness it refers to really stops at scientific truth (which, I for the sake of peace I will repeat I do not doubt in the least). It is mostly about conscience, isn’t it, and less about provability.

    Mistreatment of children IS rife most organized religions… but just as it is rife in most organized anything. If I think how parentless children were treated in communist Romania, or how the children of Roman and Sinti and other travelling people were treated in secular Western Europe in the decades following WWII, I see little contrast to the Christian Brothers of the Irish Borstals. I know, you want to pool Communism and Fascism with religion, because it is convenient for your argument, but it seems stretching the meaning of the terms (and how exactly does the state of mind of post-WWII Switzerland fit into that scheme, anyway? All that remains in their case is a vague sense of Calvinist morals, without any of the religiosity, just as your argumentative base is founded on the formerly Christian values of equality and justice, stripped of their religosity.)

    Isn’t it a specific trait of religosity that you find so offensive, one found in many human organizations? Isn’t it the willingness to discount the suffering of others by rationalizing it as for the greater good or by simply declaring them as unworthy of consideration out of some arbitrary group identity? And yes, all religious institutions I know of are guilty of that sin. But so are ALL human institutions, in fact, are all identity builders, be it football teams, nationality, percieved “race”, gender, belonging to a particular scientific discipline or school of thought, being either a city dweller or a country dweller, etc.

    The particular problem with organized religion is that by its nature (i.e. codifying morals) it is (like all -isms) particularely vulnerable to creating self-serving justifications for this form of exclusion, ostracism, and abuse. And that happens always when religion (or any other system of belief) becomes dogmatic, or in your words “faith-based”, when checking back what specifically it means in the real world, and how it actually improves the quality of life is no longer permitted. Or, as Joe Campbell would have it, when “Yaweh” begins to think of himself as fact instead of metaphor. That is when he becomes “Samael”, the demiurge, who imprisons us, instead of liberating us.

    The “word” is never true. It always only points at something real in life. Just like science. It isn’t the “theory” that is true. The theory is just a way to descibe something we’ve experienced as real in a way that allows us to compare and help predict subjective experience of the world. It’s not true “because Darwin says so”, but because it describes something we can experience again and again in real life. And that is how religion SHOULD be treated as well. It is never true “because Jesus (or Mohammad, or Tatonka, or Zeus) said so”, but because those words, like those of a good teacher, can guide us to personal revelations. And if they don’t do that… just like with a scientific hypothesis that fails to explain the real world, well, it’s just so much ink on paper, and not worth anything more.

    It really isn’t religion (as in “dealing with the transcendent and spiritual aspect of human life”), but dogmatism (as in “refusing to answer questions honestly and to encourage critical thinking”) that is the root of evil.

    Comment by FreeFox — February 3, 2011 @ 8:28 am | Reply

    • I think these quotes by Joe are terribly silly and revealing of a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of Campbell: one is not an atheist because one believes metaphors are lies. That sense goes directly against the meaning of the word ‘metaphors’ for crying out loud! The word ‘metaphor’ means they are representative not as allegories (as religious people often pretend when they claim this bit should be ‘metaphorical’ and that bit literal ) but as stand-ins for relationships. Campbell confuses the two and assigns the confusion to that which defines atheists. But that’s just silliness. If atheists suffered from such confusion, then we would have trouble finding truth value in all forms of narrative that include metaphors, as if all of us were suffering from some collective kind of Asberger’s. In addition, we’d come across common arguments by atheists that writers like Shakespeare were liars because the stories weren’t factual when written as fiction. Obviously, that’s absurd to assign such a reading of the dichotomy between believers to non believers to. The argument atheists have with religious precepts is that they are not true in the literal sense… not the metaphorical as Campbell would have us believe.

      In addition, “not facts’ is not synonymous with “not true” when one is considering metaphors, just like metaphor does not necessarily equate with “true” in the figurative sense. It simply means representative, and it remains of great importance to be careful in our comprehension of meaning through a reading of symbols like those found within metaphor (and the rich world of myth) that we don’t assume metaphor means “true” in any kind of literal sense. This is a criticism that I think pertains especially to those who assume that religious belief is excused from criticism if it is read to be metaphorical. The problem is not that the beliefs themselves should be understood to be metaphorical (which is vast improvement over the stupidity of a literal reading of millennia old scriptures); the problem is that what the metaphors represent are arguably not true even in the figurative sense. In other words, the relationships often described figuratively within religions themselves by use of metaphor are not necessarily an accurate description of any relationship being described. We need to be aware of this potential weakness in the metaphorical narrative.

      I have a problem with any faith-based epistemology regardless under which heading it falls. Religion as a whole has a broken epistemology. In other words, we cannot trust ANY answers – figurative or literal – if they are inspired by faith because that is the starting position that is under review rather than the concluding position that the faith-based belief is true. But please note: myth is not a ‘religious’ expression but a powerful teaching tool expropriated by various religions to support its theology. I have lot more to say about the very practical readings and use myths as a teaching tool that I will skip here.

      As for the mistreatment of children, I’m not suggesting it occurs mostly by religious instigation. It occurs because of stupidity and a kind of willful ignorance. But it is particularly galling that an organization that claims a higher moral standard like the rc church (and its dried up sexually stunted old men in funny hats who wear dresses) works so diligently to avoid taking responsibility for its silence on allowing so much abuse of children in its name and theology and directs its agents to cause further harm in its defense. My criticism of children abused by faith-based organizations is grounded on the same problematic model of any faith-based beliefs: let’s assume and assert that children are a certain way, that they should be treated in a particular way. That is the assumption that rests on a broken epistemology: is it true that children are, in fact, ‘this way’?

      I will also quibble with you about the notion of a scientific theory that is not itself ‘true’. Theories are explanations that work. That is where the description, the relationship being described, undergoes non-stop verification. It is an epistemology in which we can infuse with trust because it works only through repeated verification and not by assumption or assertion. The ‘answers’ we get from the epistemology of science are always under review, which is the conclusion based on that explanation continuing to work. It is not only predictive but self-corrective in this regards and can be trusted to continue to provide us with the means to verify its conclusions. That’s why it doesn’t matter about the context in which these explanations develop, such as “because Darwin says so;” it works as an explanation because it works in the real world and not because someone else at another time and place tried to say some theory is ‘true’. Nor is it the ‘words’ that define what’s ‘true’ in this sense: it is the trustworthiness of the explanation continuing to work reliably and consistently well. That’s where the value from such a trustworthy epistemology rests and not in those who believe without ongoing and rigorous verification.

      And as for the root of all evil, the one that I think is in the running is the notion of ‘certainty’. When we close our minds to the possibility of being wrong, we close our minds to the need to verify. Our trust in whatever needs to be open to being realigned when the conditions/reasons/explanations/metaphors warrant change. And that change is warranted whenever what we used to trust no longer works as a well as something else, some refinement, some advancement, something better and repeatedly verified as such.

      This is why charges of belief – of the religious faith kind that assumes answers to be true and asserts what’s true without any means to verify those assertions – leveled against those who have confidence in the epistemology of science (as a means to establishing what works independent of the person who says as much) is so badly misplaced. The two methods, the two epistemologies – are simply and irrevocably incompatible even when one begins substituting words like ‘metaphor’ in the figurative explanations.

      Comment by tildeb — February 3, 2011 @ 12:04 pm | Reply

      • We can agree that certainty is certainly evil, mate. ^_~

        Metaphor and Allegory: For one, as far as I can make out allegory, in its most general sense, is just an extended metaphor. And even Aristotle used the term metaphor for all figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison or resemblance (e.g. antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy and simile) I think that Campbell meant the term even a bit broader, as conceptual metaphor, i.e. “the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain, in terms of another”.
        Maybe the quotes were torn too far out of context here to be comprehensible, but of course Campbell does not mean to suggest that atheists are incapable of understanding metaphors (if in the narrow or the broad sense of the word), but that most of the conflict about understanding religion (and I am quite certain that to him there is no real difference between myths and religion, that is just peeps calling their own myths religion and the religions of others myths) stems from both belivers and non-believers in reading the myth as prose (as non-metaphor) and not as poetry (metaphore). In that regard both are wrong. The believer, because he misunderstands the story, and the non-believer, because his criticism is directed against a misunderstanding of the story. Arguing about the historicity of Jesus or of Noah’s Arc is like arguing whether fear is some sort of substance that could really be found “in a handful of dust”.
        (While it is pretty clear to anyone even remotely clear headed, that of course there never was an Arc, the historicity of Jesus is just simply besides the point, because nobody cares about some plain human religious teacher who may have walked around Judea approximately 2000 years ago, but only whether he was the son of God. And that, again, is from the realm of poetry, and not prose.)

        Fact and Truth: You are quite right, of course, that just because something is metaphor (or poetry), it is not automatically true. There is shitloads of songs, films, and novels out there, that even if read as the metaphor on human life that they are, they still tell us falsehoods, either because the author doesn’t know better, or because s/he’s a cynical, lying fuck.
        There is a quote by somebody, I forget who, about Hollywood and Indepenent cinema, that says something like this: It isn’t about who lies and who says the truth. It’s just that Hollywood makes it bucks by telling us those lies and truths that we want to believe, while Independent cinema provides those, we are afraid of. I’m sure this is vastly overgeneralizing, but it sums up nicely this idea that not only can metaphors (in the broadest sense) be true or false, we can also believe them either because acknowlegde their truth, or because we want to believe the lie.
        Still, just because something is metaphor doesn’t mean it is false, either.

        Because they work: What I meant to say about scientific theory is that their truth does not lie in the writen down formulae, but in the relationship between the meaning of the scientific text and those aspects of reality they describe. This is probably a rather pointless point to make, since it is the definition of truth – that it corresponds to reality. I just tried to stress that just like a scientific theory, with religious texts that same principle applies: As the metaphors they are they are only as useful as they are true… only as valuable as they point towards something that is real, outside of themselves. Just like saying “it’s true because Darwin, or Einstein said so” is of course nonsense – it’s true because it correctly describes an aspect of reality – so is saying “it’s true because the bible, or the Qu’ran, says so” nonsense. Any poem is only as good as it’s ability to open the eyes of its reader to some real-life truth.

        You use the word Epistemology so often, so I looked it up to be sure I understood you correctly. This is what Wikipedia told me about it: “Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge. It addresses the questions ‘What is knowledge?’, ‘How is knowledge acquired?’, and ‘How do we know what we know?'” So, yeah, I agree with you that anyone who uses religion as a castle to hide within from reality, is using a “broken epistemology”. But that isn’t the only use of religion.

        I’m not sure I understand you when you say “myth is not a ‘religious’ expression but a powerful teaching tool” – I’m assuming that you mean that one can use myths as a rhetorical device (metaphor?) to teach something. Andway, I am using the word myth or myths now as a term for the various stories told by religions, be it the three Abrahamic ones, those of Hinduism and Buddhism, or the vagious “pagan” religions, as they have been handed down through time – not just the general form, but the many, individual contents of these stories.

        As you pointed out, just because something is a Myth, it doesn’t have to be true. It can still be false, either because it describes something that no longer applies, since human society has changed since the myth was created, or because it was always based on a misunderstanding, or even outright deceitful propaganda. This is of course complicated by the fact that the same story, the same myth, like any other poetry, can have different meanings for different readers, and even change in the common perception with time. Peeps have read Shakespeare quite differently through the ages, and it is hard to argue which reading is the correct one (irrespective of whether it then also escribes something true.) The power of myths lies at least in part in their ability to act as a mirror for those who look into them.

        But the fact that some myths have endured for millennia is an indicator that they speak to something very fundamental in us, something that transcends the parameters of temporal socialization. It does not make them true, but it makes them important. There is a certain evolution of ideas here, as well, a process of weeding out what does not work and passing on that which does work. If religion has any kind of real epistemology, it is just that, the blind chaos of memetic mutation and evolution. Just like there are evolutionary dead ends in biology, and great extinctions, this is not a free pass for myths. But just like biological evolution has a knack of comming up with pretty nifty designs, so should we – that is my experience – regard mythological stories with a the willingness to see what they have to offer.

        If you approach myths (and that includes the stories of the bible) as such poetry about important things, with both the willingness to let them show you part of reality you may not have seen or understood before, AND ALSO the critical mind to question whether what they tell you corresponds to the real world and real life, as you are experiencing it, I think religion can be a valuable, and truthful, and constructive part of human life.

        I know that you can tell me of a zillion instances of how this process is being abused. So I’m agreeing with that beforehand. You don’t have to tell me. I’m queer enough to have gotten that message from real life already. All I am trying to say is that for all the totally justified criticism of how religion is being used, can’t you admit that there is also this use of religion that is not inherently broken or evil?

        Comment by FreeFox — February 5, 2011 @ 7:49 am

      • Yo, Tildeb, any reason why my previous comment doesn’t show up on your sidebar of recent comments?

        Comment by FreeFox — February 5, 2011 @ 9:04 am

      • Kurwa, now my “#comment-2066” doesn’t show up at all any more… damn you Word Press… you have destroyed hours of work… and now my perfect, undisputable Proof of God is gone forever… nooooooooo!

        Comment by FreeFox — February 5, 2011 @ 10:27 am

      • Allegory (2 main types: historical and political)

        …is a narrative, whether in prose or verse, in which the agents and actions – and sometimes the setting as well – are contrived by the author to make coherent sense on the “literal”, or primary, level of signification, and at the same time to signify a second, correlated order of signification. (From Abrams 7th ed A Glossary of Literary Terms)(And I do love my Abrams!)

        Metaphor

        …is a word or expression that in literal usage denotes one kind of thing applied to different kind of thing without asserting a comparison. (A comparison turns it into a simile.) Keep in mind that tenor and the vehicle that serves the tenor is called the ground of a metaphor.

        When it comes to myths, the ground is all important because it is two-fold: the ground comes from the story infused with vital symbols as well as from ourselves and our reading of what the symbols mean according to our private dream images, making myths the kind of narrative that offers us a unique way to interact with this kind of narrative if we can translate the symbols successfully. We make private meaning from public myths and this a fascinating teaching tool because we come fully equipped to effectively learn deeply about important ways to live well this way. There is a very sound reason, for example, why Plato concluded his The Republic with the Myth of Er. Most people (and certainly the church who stole so much from Plato) ignore this final chapter in recalling anything of interest from Plato’s ideas expressed in TR, in comparison to, say, the allegory of the cave. Funny, that.

        What is absolutely essential in experiencing and understanding and getting the full import from myths is to first understand that myths are grounded in symbols I cannot emphasize this enough. Symbols in mythical terms are far more than just the language of metaphor. The effective use of symbols speaks to us in a way that is in perfect alignment with how our brains work. You do not see what you see, for example: your brain translates what you see into symbols that have personal meaning (but commonly understood). What you see is about 90% filled in by your brain with what we call a ‘picture’ that makes sense. That is why it is relatively easy to fool people into thinking that they have seen something that they have not actually seen! Without this, for example, magicians would have a hard time selling their trade to those who refuse to appreciate that the woman who looks to have been sawed in half has been successfully ‘reattached’ by the magician. Myths take us on a similar journey (but symbolically) so the topic under review (being taught) only looks to be about some supernatural whatever (metaphor) commonly put right by the sacrifice and travails of some hero (allegory about us undertaking this dangerous and life-altering adventure) that reveals a basic ‘truth’ about how to change, how to better understand, in order to live well, live more fully, live within the constraints of this world in the here and now.

        Religion co-opts mythology to serve its own ends. It is a perversion of the purpose of mythology to teach us about ourselves and what it means to be fully human in the here and now. Religion abuses myth to promote magical thinking, to have us believe that the symbols of the narrative (and our dreams) are literally true, that ‘realms’ exist independently of the reality our bodies inhabit accessed by our non-corporeal minds. This is all tripe. This abuses the role of myth, abuses the role of symbols, abuses this vital teaching tool, to undermine our lives in the here and now and lend credence to some other and privileged realm of supposed existence to which we are to dedicate ourselves here and pay homage to the belief system we are to follow to get our minds to that ‘other’ place, that ‘other’ kind of understanding, that ‘other’ concern above and beyond the here and now. Religion is rubbish and dangerous rubbish and it pisses me off that one of the greatest teaching tools we have has been so subverted by the godheads to serve anti-human notions. All one needs to do is look at the effect such a drivel-laden and biased interpretation of the Genesis creation myth (to serve the jesus story) to see just how thoroughly religious servitude towards a specific ‘other’ goal – the christian heaven, the ‘hereafter’ – has undermined the deep wisdom available to us all on how to live better in this life.

        This is what I mean when I say we have to be careful and cautious not to assume the ‘metaphor’ in a ‘figurative’ sense is true. The christian reading of Genesis is wrong. And we know it’s wrong because it trivializes human life and suffering to that of serving a fairytale of punishment and fundamental brokenness about our very nature of what it means to be human. No myth serves this end, so we know the reading of the symbols within the narrative of the myth that gives us this absurd message must be flat out wrong. Yet look how persistent is this reading and how it informs our moral and even medical ethics! It’s revolting because it causes such unnecessary harm and suffering in the lives of real people right here and right now and helps to continue to empower grossly biased theological doctrines that has lasted more than two millennia. So when someone tries to suggest that mythology itself is basically religious in nature because it involves such literary techniques as metaphor and symbols to represent stuff that isn’t literally true, I grow frustrated because I think this empowers exactly that attitude which stands against what myth is trying to teach: how to live well, how to learn to live a fully human life of meaning and purpose in the here and now.

        Comment by tildeb — February 6, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

      • Kurwa! Mate. Got me, to abuse a German simile, smiling like a honey-cake horse. 🙂 Fucking A, mate, fucking A! I’m in awe. If you can do that stuff, why do you keep wasting time with bitching about RC priests being naughty?

        (Though the bit about metaphor and allegory is a bit of necessary and annoying sophistry, of course. Say, you aren’t by any chance a teach by profession, are you mate? Man, if so, I would have hated to have you. You could as easily have said “look I would use the words differently, but I get what you are trying to say, and here is what matters about the affair” and have gone directly to the symbol/literalness stuff. But you just can’t give a chap the little finger, can you?)

        Anyway, I’m totally with you on how to read a myth and how not to read it. (Not that I always succeed.) I’m just a bit puzzled by where exactly you got the definition that relion’s got to be all and only about the wrong way. Got any authority on that? But anyway, if that is all you mean, then sure, we’re not in disagreement. That form of dogmatic reading of myths is often evil and always stupid. It’s what I tried to say about checking your reading of stories against reality, of what works, but you said it much prettier and more scholarly. ^_^

        I for one must say, thought, that once I started to read the bible myself, and to never listen to sermons but only to peeps who let me ask all the impertinent questions I wanted, that the bible (amongst other works, like Peter Høeg, or de Saint-Exupéry, or Tennyson) did help me a lot. In just that way… that dreamy sort of knowledge that often is kahretsin hard to put into words, but that my heart understands anyway, and that turns out – more often than not – to, well, as you said, to work.

        “the ground comes from the story infused with vital symbols as well as from ourselves and our reading of what the symbols mean according to our private dream images, making myths the kind of narrative that offers us a unique way to interact with this kind of narrative if we can translate the symbols successfully.”

        You know, I think that is what I tried to tell you when I tried to describe to you why I can speak to something (and it answer back to me) that of course comes from my mind (as MURanter put it) but that I am certain is something larger and real out there and that fulfills my personal definition of God. This many-voiced being of all the myths, and stories, and my own experiences, and all the projections I gathered when I was conning peeps and sucked up their beliefs and wishes and fears, and all thos many often contradictory values floating around, but that are in some way, a, I dunno, like the mist coming from one common river of human understanding of LIFE, and how if I get my mind into the right form of trance, of unfocused concentration, of prayer my mind can somehow cloth that vast intention and directedness into a mask, into one being, that I can interact with.

        I know that what I hear is my interpretation of it, and I would never go and tell anyone else what they had to do because of it. This ain’t prophecy. If He speaks (that mask that I find withinmyself to help interpret, that is) at all, He’s usually pretty dry, and curt, and often caustic, and He always sounds a little bit pissed off, as if He was exasperated that I hadn’t already gotten it on my own, but so far, even though I felt that His demands have at times been rather cruel on me, He has not once guided me wrong. In other words, for me it works. But I would still hold that (through all those stories and poems and, most of all, all the… kurwa, it’s so hard to find the right word for it… the aggregate of all the projections of personalities I have gathered from the peeps I met) it does come from outside of me, it IS an, what was your word? An agent? beyond just myself.

        So, perhaps my God is the ground of all the human wisdom, which itself has come from countless lifetimes of interactions with the natural world

        Hey, have you got some good (and not too academic, Peterson is seriously pushing my limits, e.g.) reading advice on reading myths?

        Comment by FreeFox — February 6, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

      • I wouldn’t place the bible anywhere near my top ten books for teaching about living well but I would put Campbell somewhere in there as an author who teaches well.

        Like you, I didn’t do so well academically in my early schooling. I went back later and took my courses very seriously and it was then that I began to value books like the Abrams glossary to help me learn how to write my papers better. Specifically, I used it to help me write poetry at first but later to better understand literary theories and approaches. I was fortunate enough to get into a faculty for my major that used the small seminar technique where students explored various topics (and found new understandings by linking them) merely under the guidance of teachers from many different faculties. I discovered there that everyone had a worthwhile contribution to make even if I thought their conclusions might be better informed or we were in fundamental disagreement. One of the nicest things said to the graduating class about me specifically was that whether or not one agreed with me (and I did seem to be able to bring about rather passionate responses to my ideas), what I said brought to a topic under review always made people think. (In my opinion, that’s a good thing for schooling to do. Many administrators do not agree.)

        The kind of schooling I had was intensely focused on writing various kinds of academic papers, so the style I have developed clearly shows this lasting effect. Some people find it irritating. C’est la vie.

        My third year thesis paper was to bring together several topics and provide insight to how they were connected. My topic was about the importance and relevance of myth, so I did a lot of research. I would usually encourage anyone to read Joseph Campbell for a good grounding in the topic but you’ve already so. I sincerely doubt you would be interested in reading how Carl Jung infused his ideas about the subconscious as the private myth to inform his techniques of psychotherapy. Nor do I think you need to understand how Plato’s original writings explain why what we know is grounded in myth, how this is the final teaching tool – the only one that really matters – is the basis for wisdom. Nor do I think you need to have explained to you how mythology drives culture, although I have no doubt that almost anyone of any age would enjoy David Maybury-Lewis’ Millennium series and books (Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World).

        If one does enough reading of older narrative texts, one cannot help reading the same repeated myth motifs within the same culture. Star Wars, for example, is a modern myth and that’s why it has been such a hugely successful franchise significantly different than, say, the motifs in the Matrix trilogy. Star Wars speaks to people – with particular effect on the young. People like it even if they don’t admit as much and even if they don’t understand why they like it, whereas a sci-fi blockbuster like the Matrix just doesn’t grab the same wide spectrum of people nor appeal as strongly to the young. Something more is going on that just high tech cinematics and action; one is not personally attached to the Matrix in a way that one gets attached to the narrative in Star Wars and that difference lies in the use of myth to bring about that connection.

        I wrote my thesis specifically about the Green Knight and how the role of myth is to offer us guidance on how to self-instruct, meaning a way through narrative to effectively impart the wisdom of our elders to each succeeding generation. It’s all about living and learning to live well. Homer didn’t write about Ulysses because he created the story and thought it might bring him a few bucks; it’s an epic poem (easier to accurately remember) and meant to be passed on in an entertaining way so that one can hear the story over and over again and learn something new each time. The Green Knight is another. Dante’s Divine Comedy is another (again, borrowed heavily from Plato’s myth of Er). These epic poems and lasting myths serve a social purpose and it’s never to reduce people to serfs for something as mundane as a particularly nasty theology. That’s why we know Genesis is a myth that has been perverted into serving a different master than teaching us a basic human truth: that in order to become an autonomous adult that our curious nature demands, one has to grow up and leave home.

        I suspect that if you had been one of my students (in one of my incarnations as a teacher), you would have been a very successful one. I have taught at those ‘special’ schools for the so-called incorrigible, those ‘special’ classes in public schools populated by the same, and in adult ed. In all cases, effective self-teaching results in terrific academic success. All the students need to really learn is how to express themselves in ways that yield stellar marks. Because I know I can’t ‘learn’ you anything, my role as facilitator, guide, helper, has resulted in astounding student successes for which the students continue to try to blame me. I have enjoyed their continued successes and feel fortunate to have been part of the process that has opened so many doors for so many people who thought ill of themselves and doubted their natural abilities and intelligences. But I have also been deeply frustrated by a professional setting that has transferred what I do so effectively into helping my superiors take credit at my personal expense. I instituted a math program for 7-11 years old students who scored in the bottom 3 percentile in provincial math scores and in a mere 8 weeks turned them into consistently reproducing top 5% marks in provincial math testing. Seems that people can do math after all. My principal was awarded with a provincial superintendent job for this underserviced population and I was let go. I enjoyed the same kind of thing with adult ed students and took people with little academic training and helped them become the A+ students in their senior levels courses. The class starred in a Ministry of Education, Colleges, and Universities video to show what an adult ed class looked like today while my co-ordinator earned a plaque and increased funding for the program. She then refused me consideration for any further employment in one of the largest school districts in the country. So, yeah, I think we would have got along just fine.

        Have you considered how remarkable it is that people who meditate and impede blood flow to particular areas of the brain – the same location as flooded with blood from stroke victims – report the same kind of experiences you allude to? You attribute the ‘voice’ you hear to something out there because whatever agency is involved, it both knows you in a deeply personal way but is not you. So is there a connection here, and if so, how to explain it?

        My suggestion is that you look to brain… specifically, the bicameral brain each of us lives with. It makes more sense to me that the common experiences attributed to different sources leans more towards the biological centre as the cause of these effects by a known mechanism because we can duplicate some of these experiences by interfering with specific parts of the brain. Attributing the cause of these experiences to an outside agency has neither a mechanism nor evidence of this agency. Another way to say this is: if we remove your attribution, does the agency itself still exist? (And further, how can we know this to be the case?) If the attributed agency disappears with the removal of the person doing the attributing, then I think that is a good indication that the agency resides only in the attributing mind and not beyond it.

        Comment by tildeb — February 7, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

      • My suggestion is that you look to brain… specifically, the bicameral brain each of us lives with. It makes more sense to me that the common experiences attributed to different sources leans more towards the biological centre as the cause of these effects by a known mechanism because we can duplicate some of these experiences by interfering with specific parts of the brain. Attributing the cause of these experiences to an outside agency has neither a mechanism nor evidence of this agency.

        Why do I always have to think of Magritte’s pipe when I hear that argument? Look, T, I really, really have no beef with any of that. Of course it is in my brain. And the fact that I can, if I concentrate on it, actually hear this as a voice, with timbre and nuance, and clear words… that I can in the same way summon up the voices of those have have died and that have been close to me… and that I really see, and feel, and smell my spirit guides, at least with a part of my senses, while those same senses at the very same time do tell me that there is nothing physically there… it’s probably closer to pathology than to the mainstream functioning of the brain. (And if you’re wondering, it isn’t drugs. I mean, I’ve gotten excessively drunk at times, but I had these experiences before I started on alc, and I’ve not had any for over a year now, and nothing’s changed. And other than that, my only drugs are sugar, nicotine, and caffeine. Though the first time that Sami shaman introduced me to my spirit guides I was tripping on muscimol. But that was a one time thing.) On the other hand, given how common that type of experience is, it seems to be part of the common human canon of experiences.

        No, I have no doubt that the mechanism of these experiences is wholly mundane, and can be explained down to the reactions of the least synapse. But that is only the hardware, isn’t it? Just like my brain is the hardware on which my dreams run. They are the software. Like myths. Like the content of literature is the software stored in ink and paper and executed on the brains of readers… where it always and automatically interacts with the software installed by both culture and individual experience, and always modified by the individual hardware determined again by both genetics and whatever mods someone may have run, like cerebral scarring, or drugs, or the way growing up and making experiences has already shaped the brain as it grew. All that. So the way we experience ANYTHING, from music and literature over food or love to work, and physical pain, and the sensation of a breeze on our skin, all of that is always a mix of our personal hardware, our personal software, our collective software, and to some extend our collective hardware, i.e. the physical universe we inhabit, the physical stimuli we recieve, isn’t it?

        What I do not buy from you is your firm definition fo what constitutes the boundaries of identity on stuff. As I said before Michaelangelo’s David is MORE than just the phyiscal piece of marble. That is just one of many parts. What I would call the true David is a complex gestalt that exists in all the pictures and replicas, in all the memories, and treatises, and sensations caused by that piece of marble, by its history, by the mythological figure associated with it, etc. It is like a ghostly kraken that has invisible tendrils of relationship in millions of brains, like, I dunno, cloud computing perhaps? Whatever.

        Ideas are REAL, after all. They have EFFECTS. The change the physical world from the tiny engrams in the brains in which they are situated to whatever they lead to. The IDEA of nuclear fission has not only lead to power plants and nuclear bombs, but also to the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That is bloody real. And it stands in a direct correlation to the idea that made it possible.

        So that which I interact with – my God, my spirit guides, my dead sister and dead father – they are not JUST my brain. I couldn’t invent them on my own. They are copies (copies changed by my personal soft- and hardware, to be certain, but copies of a sort nevertheless) of some sort of memetic REAL THING out there. Some of them I just carry with me, like ‘Nette’s ghost. Others are in a constant exchange (thourgh the ports of my senses and interpretation) with the real world out there, getting constantly updated, corrected, and rewritten.

        And the construct that I attribute with the name “God” is the most complex and densly networked gestalt of them all, because into it flow not ONLY my personal beliefs and my cultural programs, but also everything I know and experience and intuit about the physical world at large. In a way it is simply the face, the mask, my brain gives the sum of the active world that I live in. Both consciously and unconsciously I constantly check it against reality. And when the real world behaves in a way different from how my “inner face” of God has lead me to believe, then it is that “inner face” that I adapt to the empirical experience, and not the other way around. But as long as I can bring myself to be reasonably honest with myself, and as long as stay aware of my own wishes and fears, that “face of God” has staid pretty darn true, sometimes stratlingly spooky so. But I can credit that to my senses, and intuition and subconscious, all grounded in common neurological functions and don’t need anything supernatural for it. Quite the contrary. It is very natural. And still it is magic. ^_^

        As for the “Will” of that agency, well, for me that is sort of a black box theory thing. You are a black box for me. I assume you are a human being and that leads me to other assumptions about how you will function and react, but in the end all in know is that if I act in certain ways, or don’t act, it leads to certain reactions from you. And in this barrage of empirical data I try to discern patterns that permit me to predict you in some way, so that I can interact meaningfully with you. And in the end I treat everybody else just the same, my child, the mother of the child, my boss, my colleagues. I certainly treated all the victims of my crimes that way, and the art of confidence is nothing but that: Creating mostly intuitive models of the behaviour of marks in order to be able to manipulate them into acting in the way I wanted them to.

        That is basically what God (or the spirits) are to me. If by God I mean the way the universe reacts to me, than I treat the universe (or rather that part of it that is meaningful for me) like such a black box person. I create a model it it inside of me… the mask of God… and I interact with it. I sometimes ask it beforehand how He will react… it’s sort of an intuition based test run of something I might do for real later. Sometimes I talk to Him to reflect on past events, to figure out their meaning for me.

        All of that is IN MY BRAIN, and yet all of that is CONNECTED to the real world. The “agency” is the same as I attribute to you, or to a wild dog, or to a mark, or to a lover, only that it covers a much vaster field. (And every scientific theory and revelation that I learn of becomes a part of that “agency”, which is why my God rarely claims facts that go counter to scientific knowledge… after they all are part of his body, or his personality, or his hardware, or however you want to name it.)

        The magic of my God is that He doesn’t need any mumbo-jumbo. That nothing is super-natural to Him. And that He still is an active agency in my life, and that I can interact with him. He is the living, talking metaphor of real life.

        Now, I don’t know how you define religion or spirituality. If I use Wikipedia’s definitions, religion is “a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishing symbols that relate humanity to truths and values.” For me, that is what my religion does. Spirituality “can refer to an ultimate or immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of their being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” For me this way of looking at the world includes a system of meaning that transcends the individual physical elements the world is made up from without violating any empirical truth I can make out (ultimate/immaterial reality), and is an inner path leading to both awareness of my place in the world, and shared values and the effect they have on my life and others.
        So, it is a form of spirituality.
        And yet it is not faith-based… I do not assume something first and then fit my models to the assumptions, but I strive to fit my models to empirically experiencable reality… and if it leads somehow to murder, intolerance, and the gates of concetration camps, I would like you to tell me how so.

        PS.: Did I miss something or did you in the end NOT recommend any book to me?
        PPS.: It sure sounds like I would have needed you as a math teach. I could never be bothered to simply rote learn my math. If someone managed to explain to me how it really worked, I would be pretty good. If I just had to memorise formulae, I always failled miserably. Same in Chem. God, how I loathed that subj. But now that I am learning to be a baker and conditor, and get a feel and experience, I love to learn how substances behave. I mean, I know that that is hardly higher academia, but at least its REAL, it has meaning, and I can learn it with all my senses and not as abstract ideas on paper that are utterly pointless for me.

        Comment by FreeFox — February 9, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

      • I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer. I did not mean you only experience this stuff at the level of the brain; I meant that it is your brain that is both the cause of the experience and the interpreter of that experience.

        I mentioned the bicameral brain to raise the point that within your skull resides very much two almost separate and distinct brains. We utilize both hemispheres, both ‘sides’ of the brain, constantly and tend to exhibit warped perceptions when one side or the other is impaired (or both if we alter its chemistry). My point is that to attribute agency to an outside cause when we have these kinds of experiences is premature without empirical evidence that such an outside agency actually exists.

        When Jill-Bolte Taylor (a neurologist who wrote My Stroke of Insight) experienced her brain bleed, her account matches up very nicely to the same kinds of experiences many people attribute to be caused by this hypothetical outside agency. The part of her brain with which she now communicated was vastly different that the one she usually communicated with but was (and remains) still part and parcel of her whole being. She pays much more attention to it than she used to. That we don’t hear in familiar tone and voice the messages from our right hemisphere doesn’t mean it is a voice from elsewhere; it means we are not familiar with it specifically except in highly unusual circumstances where it yells for our attention louder than our usually reliable interior voice. The memory engrams activated to recall voices from our past are not what I’m talking about here: I am suggesting that within our divided brains we hold many voices, many individual parts, that we usually don’t notice as separate and discrete entities. We tend to think of our brains like we do a flock: one thing that generally behaves as one thing but in reality is made up of highly integrated but also very distinct parts. And that’s why when our brains are engaged with making sense out of sophisticated and complex patterns – either from beyond or within the brain itself – our whole brain lights up in activity as the discrete parts engage with it. When the pattern becomes familiar and predictable, that activity tends to get allotted to only those bits of the brain that need to decode and transfer the information and those brain bits that implement some effect. (This helps to explain why ‘un’learning is far more difficult than learning, why an uncorrected mistake, say, in music performance requires on average 16 corrective attempts to ‘fix’ the problem but only 5 attempts to learn it correctly the first time. That’s why teaching mathematical concepts in a new way brings about so much success for students who have bogged down into confusion from an ‘old’ way.)

        We can utilize all kinds of metaphor to explain what’s going on but have to remain alert not to attribute cause and effect by a known mechanism to the symbols of the metaphor. Michelangelo’s David or any piece of art is not only highly stimulating to the brain that can perceive its patterning, but immensely pleasing to the brain. The same pleasure centers are activated when we act in concert with our own brain patterning, but that’s a different subject altogether. But it adds substance to the notion that we only get out of things what we put into them, and we are capable of learning how to put much more into what we do so that we can get that much more out of the doing. Notions of meaning and purpose fit very nicely into explaining why each of us gets something out some doing more or less than others, so we assign different levels of personal satisfaction and pleasure from these different doings. One can even learn to activate the pleasure centers by not doing anything at all!

        These feelings we gain are central to the notion of spirituality. Jill (the neurologist who suffered the stroke) describes them beautifully as her one hemisphere slowly shut down due to the bleed (I didn’t know that blood is toxic to brain circuitry): the expanding sense of self, the loss of physical boundaries, the union of self with the cosmos, the exquisite sense of caring and love for everything and everything returning that sense a hundredfold, feeling an essential part of it all, and so on. She became a ‘spiritual’ being… from brain impairment. And look what we find with praying nuns and meditating monks: a remarkable reduction of blood flow to certain parts of the brain, the same parts that can be impaired by directed magnetic waves to achieve similar – and I should mention, deeply emotional and meaningful – experiences. To attribute these experiences to an outside agency is, as I have written, premature if not highly problematic when explanations much closer to home seem to be available for further research.

        Comment by tildeb — February 9, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

      • “I did not mean you only experience this stuff at the level of the brain; I meant that it is your brain that is both the cause of the experience and the interpreter of that experience.”

        Yeah, I got that. I’m not all stupid. ^_^ Hence my long answer. I do not doubt that the mechanism of this experience is found in my brain, and maybe even some dysfunction, but then again maybe a correct function that is just not used by most peeps, and of course I am part of that process – if God is all encompassing, then He certainly encompasses me as well. But I have good reason to believe that it is not “parcel”, not the ONLY or even the MAIN cause of the experience. But that it is reacting to empirical outside stimuli, although not in a logical one-on-one manner, but in an intuitive holistic manner. Like dreams are obviously in part created by my brain, but are as obviously in part influenced by my experiences with the outside world. I know that to consider dreams to be literally true would be mad, but ignoring what they try to tell me about myself and my experiences with the real world would lead equally to madness.

        Maybe it is that one side of my brain does all that collecting and sorting of data and then sends it to the other side which percieves it as one homogenous (?) personality to interact with. That one side builds the model, so to speak, and the other engages it. But that does not mean that it is not a true model of something real. It doesn’t invalidate the experience or that I term this collected and funneled experience “God”, any more than that I term the experience of all the various mechanisms that are operating within you, all your genes and memes, memories, experiences, desires, expectations, values, conventions, all the various processes of brain chemistry, the entire field of language between you and me and all the cultural associations they drag into things, that I sum up this collected and funneled experience as “Tildeb”, and assign you with a will and agency and personality.
        (And in that exact same way, I am aware that of course I only get to see one narrow and biased aspect of the whole of you, just as I can only percieve and interact with a very narrow and biased aspect of God.)

        Brain chemistry or no, it still is a religious, spiritual experience. It still isn’t faith-based. It still doesn’t lead to intolerance or violence, while indubibtably being the cause of my values and hence part of my political and social will. And it still doesn’t violate any scientific theories.

        Comment by FreeFox — February 10, 2011 @ 6:07 am

      • Then what is ‘it’ you are calling god?

        If you compare ‘it’ to a everything that contributes to the creation and experience of a dream, then what is ‘it’ you are trying to describe that is separate and distinct from an ‘it’ you merely create? You like to compare the process of this creation to another ’tildeb’, which implies an outside and autonomous agency, yet when I try to pin you down you shift the goalposts to suggest it is merely an attribution of agency to that which is not an outside and autonomous agency. I can point at anything and say ‘there it is: there is god’ as long as I don’t try to differentiate what ‘it’ actually is that remains consistent and cohesive and comprehensible across all cases. And that what I think you are trying to do. But if you attempt to pin ‘it’ down to being an outside and autonomous agency, THEN I think you are substituting a faith-based belief and empowering this belief with exactly the same mind set that equates a specific belief as a substitution for an absence of evidence that can lead to gas chambers for whomever has been thus categorized as unworthy not in fact but in belief.

        Comment by tildeb — February 10, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

      • My point is that “it” can be more than just an object with simple, physical boundaries. The history of a country can be one “it”. The family of citrus fruits can be one “it”. All punk songs glorifying self-destruction can be one “it”. Those “its” that you seem to allow are only constructs as well. Where exactly does the sea end and the beach begin? I’m sure you know the puzzle of someone repairing and replacing bit for bit an old car. Once the last original part has been exchanged, is it still the same car? And when you say, it isn’t, at what point exactly does it stop being the old car and begin being the new car? With the first exchange? Or with the last? Or when it is at exactly 50%. How about natural change, aging, corrosion, etc. Is everything made completely new every instant when only one atom on it changes? “It” is always to an extend a matter of perception and definition – literally of where we ourselves draw the border, de-fine, from finis, border.

        So I always create these definitions and models within myself, I always try to make out patterns in the world around me. Some such patterns are widely recognized: Tree, Apple, Car, Person. Some patterns are not seen in physical patterns but patters in behaviour or experience: Love, Hope, Anger, or even, say, Flatulance. There is no end to how we can categorize the world: Dirty jokes, Dear John Letters, Dumpling recipies from across the world, or Descriptors that begin with the letter “D”. They all describe something real, some pattern in reality.

        The pattern that I see in the real world that is too important in my daily life to just leave nameless, but that I can find no other suitable word in our common language for, is the pattern of “How the world in its entirety acts and reacts in a meaningful, emotionally significant, and for my own behaviour relevant way.”

        Questions of morals are part of that – how will individuals, groups, and society treat me, react to me, and judge me if I behave in a certain way. But also what happens within myself if I behave myself in a certain way, what does it do to me when I break my word, or when I act cowardly. But so are questions of relevance: What relevant importance has the praise of my boss, the laughter of my child, the beauty of the silvery leaves of the Eucalyptus tree in the town square, and the satisfaction of a cigarette for me? How do these rank to the importance these things have for the other peeps involved, their financial cost, the amount of time they need to be created or appeciated, etc. Last week was the anniversary of the death of someone very important to me. It has been a couple of years, but it still is an important day for me. On such a day I talk to that “It”, that conglomerate of aspects of reality, to find my place. How much does that one death still colour every experience as meaningless? How much does it stress the importance of enjoying every day? What does it say for me in my relationship to my new, self-made family? The “it”, the God, is nothing else but a unified face for the entire world AS IT PERTAINS TO ME.

        So, for that reason it is highly important that it is not just something I create. The actual model I create, the mask, that is made by me. But it is a model of something real, of everything real really, out there. It’s like seeing the world in a mirror: The image in the mirror is not the real thing, but it clearly is a depiction of the real thing. Depending on the quality of the mirror and the amount of light it is a more or less faithful epiction, but even a mirror of hammered bronze still depicts an image of something real. And depending on the size, and the location of the mirror, it can only depict one particular part of the world, from one particular angle. And different peeps can look through different mirrors at the same world from different angles. And what they see will be the same in some respects, but very different in others. It is BOTH objective AND subjective. Both created by my brain and created by the world outside (and also taking into consideration that my brain is actually a part of that world, not something seperate from it.)

        I think were you and I really differ is that you think that I take the concept God and I try to fill it with something. And since the word really doesn’t mean anything, I just fill it with “anything”. And I would admit, that would be bad. But it is not what I do. I have this experience, this experience of “the world, as it acts and reacts to me”, that I know is made up of a zillion little things. And it is good to know as much as possible about each and every of these things. And that’s what science does. It tells me about the bacteria and viruses and gungi that make diseases, and about the forces that makes machines work, and about psychology and neurology of human beings, and of how animals and plants and the seasons and the land make up a system that can be damaged to the detriment of each being it in, including ourselves, and all that. And each bit of knowledge is one little tool, or one little weapon, that allows me to understand und deal with stuff. But none of it helps me deal with what it means for me.

        Sometimes I need to sit back and adress the entirety of it. I need to see where it is leading me, and what it means for me, and for those around me. I need to adress it, and ask it things, and get a feel for its personality. The way a sea dog may look at the sky and get a feel for how the wind and the waves are going to treat him today. Of course he’ll use the compass and the sextant (or GPS) and weather charts, and all that, but to be able to even know what questions to ask for his personal situation right then and there he needs to just take the measure of the sea.

        What other word is there for that? What is this face of the world, not the objective world, but the world as it pertains to me? What word but God?

        (At least we’re down to “a mind set that […] can lead to gas chambers”. Because depending on how you categroize things, your mind set of dividing peeps into those who are right and those who are potentially evil can leader there, too. But it doesn’t have to do so.)

        Comment by FreeFox — February 10, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

      • I feel so frustrated, because I feel like a man who is trying to explain what he means by “forest” and always gets to hear: There is no forest, there is just a bunch of trees. And who is accused that he is ignoring the scientific evidence for the trees. Or that his concept of “forest” is just a fictional concept.

        I don’t doubt the reality of the trees, or their biology, or their chemistry, or their physical properties. I just want to say that there also is something that deserves the name “forest”, and that is not just a bunch of trees, but how they influence each other, and the dead trees, and the animals, and the fungi, and how the wind blows through it, and how it alters the light, and all of that together. And it is not always the same, and it is not the same for everyone in it, but it still is something real.

        Comment by FreeFox — February 10, 2011 @ 3:43 pm

      • Now I get it: you’re a deist!

        That explains it.

        I have no problem with deism. This is the ‘religion’ of Spinoza and Einstein and Jefferson and Locke. You are in exalted company (although Hume really took it task with excellent critical acumen)!

        By the way, your comment was beautifully expressed. No wonder why you felt so frustrated by my seeming obtuseness.

        Comment by tildeb — February 10, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

      • Deism, huh? Well, I looked up the link, and browsed around a bit after that. There certainly is a lot that I can totally agree with: “Deists believe in the existence of God, on purely rational grounds, without any reliance on revealed religion or religious authority or holy text.” Yep. I like the bible, but I like the Eddas or Anansi-Stories just the same. And none of them are authoritative for me.

        On the other hand, I found again the line from Wikipedia that made me doubtful of Deism: “the term often implies that this supreme being does not intervene in human affairs” That would be rather inacceptable for me. But as I now found out that is not necessarily shared by all Deists.

        What really troubled me for a while were your questions about agency. Because God as I experience Him, and as He speaks to me in prayer, definitely has a will. But when I read stuff like all that Great Architect and Designer or so, that doesn’t feel right either. I believe that Reason is a virtue, but God is more passionate than reasonable. This cool First Cause Creator, well, I suppose I might accept that as part of God. But that isn’t the part that speaks to me. Maybe that is how God speaks to the planets and the stars.

        I think I’m not less sceptical than you and MUR, I would say I am more sceptical, you know. I never liked this idea of deifying human intelligence and reason. What I mean is, we know that what we call intelligence, and self-awareness, and consciousness, are in the end just illusions. They are functions of complex processes in our brains. “We” don’t make decisions. Decisions make us. They are the outcome of chemical and electrical processes in our brains, processes influenced both by the physical structure of the brain and by the impulses that enter our senses, photons and sound waves in the air, and pressure on our skin, chemical reactions on our tongue, all that. And they are filtered and processes in a machine that has cultural software running on, values, concepts, models, that are part of “us”. But this idea that there is one clearly defined “me”, that is seperate from the rest of the world, and that “I” can act and think and decide autonomously, well, that is ridiculous, of course. Go close enough, and “I” dissolve in a myriad little chemical and electtrical exchanges, each only governed by the simple, unalterable rules of electrons and protons. And at the level all boundaries we imagine are meaningless. There is a constant exchange of matter and energie within and without, across every limit and definition we like to impose on the world. Hell, “I”‘m not even just “me”, I’m my genes, but I’m also my mitochondria that are, genetically speaking, a family of beings completely seperate from the rest of me, that loves within me, and that I couldn’t exist one second without. And then there is the zillions of bacteria on my skin and in my gut that are absolutely vital to my survival, but that are all little beings unto themselves. And “I” myself am a part of families, and societies, and economies, and ecologies, that depend on its members ust as we, their members, depend on them.

        So, what is agency? Agency is always just one subjectively focussed upon part of the world that acts on me in some predictable, or predicatably unpredictable way. In a pattern. And in the sense, the wind has agency, as has the winter. How is it any more the winds will or lack of will that makes him blow as it is my will or lack of will to write these things. The wind and I may differ in complexity – perhaps, I do not want to underestimate the complexity of weather systems and all the factors that make up their behaviour – but “will” and “consciousness” is an illusion in either.

        So, when God does not want me to sin, that doesn’t mean anything but that “sin” (which I define as giving in to weakness against our better moral knowlegde, or violating our own conscience) does indeed bear bitter fruit – the fruit of a life lived with unease and a diminished self-respect. When God does not want me to lie, that is not some arbitrary commandment passed down from some mountain, but an experession of the truth that every lie seperates me from my fellow man, and in isolation my spirit withers and turns upon itself and slowly dies. It is only in the open exchange of gazes, in eyes meating directly and unshaded by shame or fear, and the recognition of myself in the other and the other in myself, that I can truly live freely.

        In that sense God does command me. He has an will. And He is vindictive, and can be seemingly petty, but all that is of course just the inerreation I put on the world and how it acts. Like we wear faces, and have our illusion of intelligence and personality and society. To make it all manageable.

        But if one is honest, it is rather easy to discern between what is true about God and what isn’t, just like it is easy to discern the truths in Newton’s Mechanics. Certain qualities God offers in abundance: Beauty, Love, and Joy. If you open your heart to it, you can find beauty in everything. Our every second of existance is an undeserved gift, and the people around us are all there, available, to be loved, and only too willing to return love if approached right.

        On the other hand, Justice is clearly not a characteristic of God. Where can justice be found in the world? What is just about the distribution of death and life? Where does fortune follow virtue? We humans may strive for justice amongst ourselves… but God has no time for it. The same with Mercy: While we do ourselves a service to find mercy in our hearts, God has none. He will not take any hardship from you merely because it is too much for you bear. Just look around in the world, it is self-evident.

        So, God has a will and a personality. Agency. Nothing supernatural. Nothing found in divine revelation – the world IS the divine revelation. He no more stands outside natural laws than I stand outside brain chemistry. But just as my brain chemistry does not disprove my consciousness, but informs and creates it, so does the world as revealed by science not disprove God (as I experience Him) but only show the mechanism through which He works.

        Is that deism? I guess then that’s what I believe. But tell me, is it not a religion?

        Comment by FreeFox — February 11, 2011 @ 4:28 am

      • Religion in the modern sense means “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”

        Modern sense of “recognition of, obedience to, and worship of a higher, unseen power” is from 1530s. Religious is first recorded early 13c. Transferred sense of “scrupulous, exact” is recorded from 1590s. (Source)

        Without this supernatural sense, I don’t think the term (as fuzzy as it is) applies to your beliefs. So, no, I don’t think your beliefs line up very well with describing them as a religion. Nor do I think the further claims you make about god as an actual agency stand up to examination without shifting into metaphor. Perhaps that’s a failure of our language but I rather think it is a failure of actuality. In other words, I don’t think such an agency is really there and I see no convincing evidence to alter this sceptical position. This god looks exactly like it would if it were not there at all for it has no defining boundaries. In contrast our agency is very much described by discrete boundaries discernible by testable and verifiable physical limits. You offer no reason to think the agency of god is anything more than nature in action.

        Comment by tildeb — February 11, 2011 @ 7:41 am

    • FF – I agree partly with what you say about organized ‘anything’ having the abuse and to be abused. But I think you miss the point slightly – the issue with organized religion is the hypocrisy and the intellectual dishonesty that accompanies it. An organization that states that it has the ‘moral high ground’ should be doing everything humanly possible to preserve its integrity.

      I also agree that all people have a faith to some degree – we all pray to something when the shit hits the fan. But this in itself, is not evidence of god, it is evidence in a consciousness that needs its physiology to be comforted. This could be the same reason that mentally ill people talk openly to themselves; we cast them as mentally ill because the ‘average’ socially accepted controls that we apply in public are applied by those who have psychological problems. But if we are all honest – we all speak to ourselves regularly – I certainly do, and I have witnessed many people doing it as well, as I am sure you have to – therefore speaking to ones self is not a sign of being mentally ill – it is normal human behavior.

      You mentioned that you talk to ‘god’ and ‘he’ talks to you – this again could be your consciousness – but it is not the creator that the religious pretend. I would actually say that the religions of the world have hi-jacked this physiological effect to con people into thinking that there is a god, when really it is just part and parcel of being a conscious animal.

      First there was man, and then man created god – in the image of his own psychology.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 4, 2011 @ 1:22 am | Reply

      • Try reading this, mate, if you can stomache it. I mean, who gives a fuck whether they think they have the moral high ground? The fucking Nazis thought they had the moral high ground. Yeah, I think that considering what they did, their self-assesment, or smugness, or whatever, is totally besides the point. Any decent human being can see that they are the absolute scum of the earth. On the list of their sins “hypocrisy and the intellectual dishonesty” barely register.

        (And no, 4AK, I really, really do not think that the “good” the Church has done in anyway outweighs these evils. I don’t think the evil outweighs the good either. I think anyone trying to justify them by putting them on a balance sheet, as if they were some kind of “necessary cost” for some other benefit, is a cynical fuck.)

        But then, that’s human beings for you. Any power structure without an independent judiciary, or that inhibits criticism and questions, is bound for that abyss, whether their argumentative basis is “deus vult”, or “the natural order”, or “the state”, or “the greater good”. Any Rand can lead you to this place as easily as any Ratzinger or Khomeini.

        Out of m< mind?: As for whether the God I talk to is a part of my consciousness, (to be blunt) well d’uh. But that’s like saying Picasso’s Guernica is just oil on canvas. When I talk to you, via the internet, in the end I only “do so in my mind” as well, don’t I? The question is, is that process connected to anything that goes beyond my mind? Do the messages I “hear” originate from outside of my fantasy, and again, I can only say, well d’uh. The whole idea of an isolated ego is of course nonsense. No man is an island. The very languages I think in all carry a shitload of values, ideas, memes, and assumptions. Every person I ever met, ever book I read, they all have left parts of themselves inside my mind, like prints of boots in wet mud. Even when I project my own signal into noise, that signal must come from somewhere. If you admit that as a biological and cultural creature you are just a part of a vast ecosystem of genes and memes, any message that is “in your mind” is just part of that system.

        Ceci n’est pas une pipe: “God” is a word, and like all words, it’s been made up by humans. Does it refer to something that’s real? Oh, I’m sure that there is a lot of peeps out there who use it to refer to some magical sky-daddy and his zombie son. I’d rather agree with you that they do not exist in the sense those peeps think they do. But I also think that that which I refer to when I use the word, some complex gestalt made up out of natural processes, culture artefacts, values, mechanisms to cope with life, and the way they all interact, can be seen as a “black box” that does have something that can accurately be ascribed to have a personality, and that I – being immerged in that system – can speak to and are spoken back to, that this entity does exist. So, yes, when we speak it is “in my mind”, just like you are. And no, it is not only in my mind, and the signal does originate from outside of what could be descibed as my “self”.

        Comment by FreeFox — February 5, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  24. Where are your facts freefox? You say things like most organized religions – is there really suffering in all? Prove it – is it pandemic? Prove it! Theory – please prove evolution as well – this is ridiculous – do any of you have an education higher then middle school? Jesus lived on the earth – historically proven – how do you people rant on and on and give no facts or do no research – there is tons out there. Yet, you talk about mythical characters like Zeus- interesting – you must be those fantasy type book readers living in the alternate world of your mind! why don’t we hear you talking about all of the good that Christianity does in the world? Feeding the poor, building hospitals, schools, etc…You are just ignorant haters trying to breed hate for a very small amount of bad that has happened.

    Please prove there isn’t a God.

    Comment by 4amzgkids — February 3, 2011 @ 9:33 am | Reply

    • What… you think I’m an atheist? Lol.

      Oh, I know that there is a God, mate. I know, cuz we talk regularely, He and I. Personally, I don’t really require much proof beyond that. And I feel no particular need to prove it to anyone else. If He doesn’t talk to those He doesn’t talk to, He must have His reasons… or they have theirs for not listening. And I am quite aware of the good that various human institutions, whether religious or secular, did and do. I have profited from both kinds, and both kinds in very different cultures. I’ve had my life saved by a Sami shaman. I’ve gotten great help from a polish Catholic priest. Ive been shown great warmth and hospitality by members of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. I treasure my time with a group of rather supersticious Romanian gypsies more than most others of my life. And nowadays I live in a place that is mostly Islamic, and I value their sense of community. And anyway, as I told Tildeb before, I think his quest is to an extend foolish anyway, since it seems to be a rather unavoidable fact that the vast majority of humans needs some kind of faith, irrespective whether that faith is true or not. I neither desire nor ever expect a world of atheism (especially in the sense that Tildeb uses the word, as simple “lack of religious faith”, instead of “conviction of the non-existance of the divine”.)

      And yet, none of that undoes the evil that, too, has been wrought by the various religious institutions.

      I only take offence at Tildeb insistance that all forms of religious conviction must lead to the gates of Auschwitz. And, yeah, I do still wait for his explanation why either my belief isn’t religious, or how it does lead to this inescapable evil.

      But you really crack me up, 4AK, you know? You are so funny…

      If you have verifiable proof that Jesus – son of God, and born to a virgin (herself of immaculate conception) – physically walked the earth 2000 years ago… please share it. I’d be most interested in seeing it. (And I believe there is some very high prize money to be had for that kibnd of proof, which – could you deliver – I wouldn’t begrudge you.) Of course nobody really cares about some historical Jesus – we all know that there were many leaders of various apocalyptic cults back then – but really only in how much such a historical person would resemble the Christ of Faith.

      But I’m afraid that you yourself do not really understand the message of your faith, 4AK. Like all the other punters you seem to be desperatly trying to read a poem as prose… and not even just prose, but a textbook.

      Comment by FreeFox — February 3, 2011 @ 10:59 am | Reply

    • PS.: But since you ask, no, I have no formal education beyond middle school. I sort of meant to get a high school diploma, but you know how it is. Life happened. Now I’m learning a craft. It is nice to see how every day’s labour directly improves and sustains the lives of my community, though. Even if it is an “evil” muslim community.

      Comment by FreeFox — February 3, 2011 @ 11:04 am | Reply

    • Theory – please prove evolution as well – this is ridiculous

      Why do you keep asking for facts, when you summarily dismiss facts that contradict your belief in magic? The proof for evolution exists in the the small field of science called Biology. Without evolution, most of Biology simply would not make sense.

      Yet, you talk about mythical characters like Zeus- interesting – you must be those fantasy type book readers living in the alternate world of your mind!

      Projection much?

      Anyhow, there is just about as much ‘evidence’ to believe in Zeus as there is in jeebus. It comes down to choosing your flavour of delusion.

      You are just ignorant haters trying to breed hate for a very small amount of bad that has happened.

      Considering how religion has divested you of any sort of critical thinking skills or rationality, most would seriously question your notion of a “very small amount of bad” you claim christianity is responsible for.

      Comment by The Arbourist — February 3, 2011 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

      • It is all theories!! HELLOOOOOOO

        Comment by 4amzgkids — February 8, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    • Please prove there isn’t a God.

      Please prove that it is not not raining outside. Duh.

      You cannot prove a negation. Therefore, as it has been said numerous times in the thread, the burden of proof lies you *you* to provide evidence of god’s existence.

      Comment by The Arbourist — February 3, 2011 @ 10:34 pm | Reply

      • I just stood outside. The sky was blue. I didn’t get wet. The cig I was smoking didn’t get wet and burned easily and dryly all the way to the butt. There is people in the street wearing t-shirts. None of them seem to be wet, either. None of them are carrying umbrells, shielding the heads, or hastening for cover. It may not be a scientific proof, but do I really need it to exclaim with reasonable conviction: It is not raining at the moment…?

        Comment by FreeFox — February 6, 2011 @ 8:11 am

      • Oops. I think you missed the double negative, FF.

        Comment by tildeb — February 6, 2011 @ 11:37 am

      • Malish. So I did. Though it’s meaning escapes me. What if I had been outside and the sky had been gray, I had gotten wet, and the other people had been wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas, and water had been driping from everywhere and falling from the sky. Again, no scientific proof, I assume, but reasonable grounds to say that it wasn’t not raining, wouldn’t it have been? I’m not certain I get the meaning… ^_^

        Comment by FreeFox — February 6, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

      • Well, the point is that proving a negative is very difficult. To prove that something does NOT exist is, as you have tried, usually undertaken more as an exercise of filling in everything ELSE (as positive things, things that are present, things that are known, and so on) in order to reveal an absence of something that SHOULD be there but isn’t. But notice that you turn to this technique yourself in a very reasonable way: to provide other positive evidence rather than, say, the lack of volcanic ash or lack of mushrooms to help you establish it is not raining. If you tried to prove it was not Not-Raining, you begin to get into the tremendous confusion of what constitutes ‘proof’ or ‘evidence’. This is the trick used by many people who like to quip “absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence” but fail utterly to appreciate that this missing evidence is clearly a pretty good indicator that something that is CLAIMED to be there (a positive claim) is missing-in-action and this absence is now is need of an explanation by the person MAKING the positive claim.

        Comment by tildeb — February 6, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

      • Ah. Yes. Sometimes it can be hard to explain, the way a political conviction or your personal values of friendship or something like that can be hard to explain, but yeah, if you want someone to see what you mean, or to argue, sure, you’ve got to somehow explain it. It does help, though, if the other is actually trying to understand you, if the explaining is something done in collaboration, like a birth, with the midwife helping it along, rather than having to shove it down the throat of someone like bitter medicine into an unwilling child. The idea can still turn out to be stillborn, but usually you get more honest results that way, I think.

        Comment by FreeFox — February 6, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

      • That’s a bunch of you know what! It does not lie with me – there’s tons of proof for God – Just look around you! But there is historical PROOF. You should try to prove that information wrong in order to prove there is no God. You all say it is up to us. We have the proof – it’s everywhere. It’s just laziness on your part – the information is out there and you can find it!

        Comment by 4amzgkids — February 8, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

    • Freefox – there is proof – and it cannot be disputed – you can find it anywhere but mostly here – newadvent.org

      I would happily post it for you but tildeb does not like for us to do that here. He has deleted things I have posted that are too long or cut and pasted.

      If I can get it to you another way – that would be great – let me know.

      Glad to know you believe!!! One less soul I will worry for.

      Comment by 4amzgkids — February 8, 2011 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  25. Congratultions tildeb on a beautiful, thoughtful article. Wonderful overriding principle. It makes so much more sense to look at the big picture in that way rather than addressing each individual situation and identifying what is right or not. And it is so obvious after reading your article that all such situations are just permutations of the same issue.

    I suppose I have been aiming for something similar all my life, and shall endeavour to adopt your principle from now on.

    It is much easier for those who have an open mind and have been on the receiving end of injustice to recognise the importance of this issue.

    Those self deluded apologists trying to stomp all over your compassion with their self righteous cruelty have little chance of ever being anything other than an anchor dragging humanity backwards.

    If only any religion could encapsulate a guiding principle in such a simple, compassionate and ruthlessly moral manner.

    But of course living your life according to this principle would not provide cushy jobs with unearned respect, godlike authority, and temporal wealth for the thousands of unenlightened beings suffering from undiagnosed personality disorders that control the access of the mindless to the “wisdom” of the “divine”.

    By the way, if you would like a personal insight into the Catholic Church’s appalling treatment of victims of child sexual abuse, and a refutation of (I suspect) every vicious and offensive word on this subject 4amzgkids has mindlessly repeated off the Catholic Church excuse sheet, feel free to visit my blog at:
    http://www.voicelessvictim.wordpress.com

    I admire your patience in continuing to indulge such time wasters when there is so little evidence of any desire or ability to think.

    One point only I will address to 4amzgkids. After the Catholic Church has hidden these criminals from justice or got them off criminal charges on a technicality (as they did to my abuser less than a year ago), and while they do not take effective action to prevent them re-abusing (I have seen their current child protection strategy in Australia – it would be a joke if it were not so tragic) whose kids do you think they will be preying on?????

    Catholic apologists, of course.

    The ones who refuse to believe their children when told about what “nice Father X” did to them.

    These monsters seek out easy targets. The very young. Those unable to defend themselves. And those who will not be believed or supported.

    Watch your kids, 4amzgkids. By refusing to face the ugly truth and defending a system that is all about abuse of power, you are increasing the likelihood they will be abused.

    Comment by voicelessvictim — February 6, 2011 @ 3:27 am | Reply

    • Voicelessvictim – very chilling post, thank you for sharing this.

      Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 6, 2011 @ 6:31 am | Reply

    • HO do you know they aren’t taking precautions? How is that always possible? Someone can have no criminal background (never caught) and then eventually get caught and there’s your proof – Please be real here! You obviously choose to believe what you want instead of looking at both sides. This is hysterical to me. Where is your reasoning mind? They have NOT hidden the criminals – look again at how it was handled and why from the Church itself. Not from some liberal hate mongering media. The liberal left is insane and a huge reason why our society is on the demise. It is truly the ignorant class. I’m sorry but when you look to haters for your information and don’t try to prove it to yourself that oh…maybe there is another side to this story – then you’ve got issues. If you were married and your spouse committed murder – wouldn’t you want that proven to you? Wouldn’t you listen to his side and the other side? Then make a decision.

      It was less then 1/2 a percent of the priests that were evil sick men hiding in the church – you cannot say it was the church. It happens more in non-catholic churches yet everyone chooses to attack the Catholic church. It happens more with parents, relatives and teachers then it does in the churches – so get over yourself here.

      Anyone that chooses to leave their child alone with anyone else should watch closely – you never know! The priests that were proven guilty are long gone!

      Comment by 4amzgkids — February 8, 2011 @ 3:29 pm | Reply

      • I really should know better than to try to have a rational conversation with someone who is clearly both unwilling and unable to do so. So I will be brief.

        You are mindlessly and viciously repeating a set of lame old excuses and evasions used with tedious regularity by the Catholic Church and its cowardly apologists. None of which have any basis in fact.

        I know what I am talking about. I have personal experience of this issue.

        They have hidden the criminals – they hid the man who abused me and 50 other girls. They broke the law in not reporting him to the police. They obstructed the police investigation. They kept him out of jail on a technicality despite witnesses to my abuse.

        There is documentary proof (forgive me if I refer to Australia, that is where I live and my information about the situation there is very accurate) of hundreds of others also hidden from justice, victims refused help, and a deceitful cover-up.

        I can say it was the Church – their systematic denials and cover-up made my situation much worse, much more damaging, much harder to ever recover from. And they are still doing it.

        I do know they aren’t taking precautions. I have met with the Catholic Church’s Head of Child Protection for the whole of Australia and discussed her efforts in detail. While well meaning, her attempts are totally defeated by an organisation that routinely sacrifices the safety of children to protect the reputations of the guilty and the assets of the richest organisation on the planet. The results are pathetic, and frankly, dangerous, because they claim to take child protection seriously, claim that parents and children should feel safe in their care, and most definitely do not do anything that would actually protect anyone except the Church hierarchy.

        The Pope is lying. He is making claims about me. And they are not true. They couldn’t be further from the truth.

        Your figure of 1/2 of one percent is even more of a deliberate obsfucation than the Pope’s lie of 1 percent. Which was disproved by the Catholic Church’s own figures (the John Jay study) of 4 percent. Which was achieved with a seriously flawed methodology, which vastly understated the problem and which should never be used as evidence of incidence.

        All of which is irrelevant because even one instance is too many.

        And its seriousness is in no way altered by other crimes occuring in other settings.

        The offensive ravings of your disordered mind are spewing forth at anything that moves with no reference to, well, anything. The only function they serve is to waste our time and energy and give an accurate portrait of the deluded individual from whom they emanated. And in case you can’t follow that, your rants inform me that you:

        “choose to believe what you want instead of looking at both sides”
        are “hysterical”
        “look to haters (the Catholic Church) for your information and don’t try to prove it to yourself”
        “got issues”

        I understand that anything that shows the Catholic Church in an unflattering light is terribly threatening to you and so you attack anyone who does not join you in your delusion. But that doesn’t make you correct, no matter how much you close your heart and your mind to the truth.

        It makes you part of the problem.

        I know that nothing will get through to you because you choose delusion over truth.

        So I will not answer any further ravings from you.

        Comment by voicelessvictim — February 9, 2011 @ 7:53 am

      • It is possible – because unquestionable ‘faith’ in the church removes scepticism, which breeds a false sense of trust. This is how the priests had the opportunity to abuse the children – they had the trust of the children, and the trust of the parents, which they established by pushing their ‘faith’ buttons. They also put the fear of god into children, and they also worked for an organisation that put its public image before its moral and ethical duties to bring justice to its employees.

        As soon as you realise that the church is just ‘another’ organisation (that does not have a divine right or authority, and is not necessarily more moral or less moral than any other) – you put yourself automatically in a less vulnerable position.

        “If you were married and your spouse committed murder – wouldn’t you want that proven to you?”

        Yes – I would, and this precisely my point – the proof you would require would be evidence that is demonstrable and undisputable beyond ‘reasonable doubt’ – not hearsay, not character references or unsubstantiated alibis, or visions, dreams, feelings or beliefs – but hard undisputable proof. There isn’t any such evidence for god or Jesus, Mohamed or any other religious character – there never has been. All that there actually is, is hearsay, legend, stories, interpretation of stories and a lot of people who have not thought about or examined the ‘evidence’ beyond what they were taught in church.

        Comment by misunderstoodranter — February 9, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  26. The victims of the church are legion and the church’s protectionist policies on behalf of these criminals will be an important aspect of its moral fall from public respect. Each victim has the power to expose their own pain and suffering under its auspices and bring some small measure of light into the public awareness of what this institution has allowed to happen to them, to real people, real children who should have been protected from such monstrous behaviour. By exercising both the courage and fortitude to make their stories of abuse public, each victim can turn their institutionalized abuse into a tiny cut into the figurative respectable body of the church when they reveal their story to others. Some – too many, in fact – of these others, these witnesses to the abused, will no doubt attempt to blame the victim for causing these crimes to be perpetrated on them. Others will continue to exempt the church by ignoring the directives and policies it instituted to protect these abusers from being held accountable and legally responsible for their creation of their victims. Others will dismiss the seriousness of the church’s culpability by pretending each case was ‘merely’ the unfortunate acts of a ‘few bad apples’.

    Nothing destroys these arguments more devastatingly than the revelations by thousands and thousands of victims, revelations of the acceptance and protection by the institution not in favour of these victims but a moral betrayal of them to favour the abusers. The church itself helped abusers from being held accountable while over years, decades, generations of children continued to be funneled into the front door under pious intentions only to have tens of thousands of these same children spat out later by this duplicitous organization as an abandoned victim.

    It’s so important that these personal stories be told and tabulated, for the tens of thousands of such cases brought to light, bringing about what I like to think of as a kind of death of respect for this complicit institution (and all those who continue to support it) by a thousand thousand such cuts. That is the sweetest revenge a powerless victim can have over its internationally acclaimed abuser. The one power the church’s influence cannot withstand with all its traditions and wealth is honesty. This light of honesty held in each victom’s hands shrivels the shadowy moral character of the church and lays bare its true intentions: to amass and use its temporal power for its own benefit and the benefit of its agents regardless of the personal cost to real people, real children it has harmed directly and allowed to be harmed by its agents. And as MUR writes, such personal stories as your own are indeed a chilling revelations, what you call an ugly truth of what the church actually is: an abuser of power and a multi-generational creator of victims.

    Comment by tildeb — February 6, 2011 @ 10:44 am | Reply

  27. 4 amazing kids…your willful ignorance and feckless godbaggery is really becoming annoying.

    The “just a theory” whinging:

    Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena.

    According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science,

    A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than “just a theory.” It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.

    So stop making foolish assertions like it is “just a theory” because it makes your arguments look even more ridiculous that they already are.

    and it cannot be disputed – you can find it anywhere but mostly here – newadvent.org

    A catholic site that like the arguments you put forth are based on the earnest belief in magic? This is incontrovertible proof? Most of the apologia can be boiled down to the circularity of the bible says is infallible —> the bible is the word of god —-> because the bible tells us so…. What utter nonsense. This is not “proof” but rather the work of scared people who mendaciously defend a rotten corrupt organization that past its best before date about 1000 years ago.

    Comment by The Arbourist — February 8, 2011 @ 3:55 pm | Reply

  28. “The pimping of one’s conscience is to put aside the PRIMACY of fundamental respect for our common and shared humanity in favour of some faith-based belief,”

    funny, i found the primacy of fundamental respect for our shared humanity in my faith. any faith that isn’t humanistic at it’s core isn’t one worth following. so in that sense, we agree and stand united against such misguided faiths.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 23, 2011 @ 1:55 pm | Reply

    • Nice sound bite about finding respect in your faith, but it’s a croak. Your brain came with mirror neurons that activate a limbic response to the suffering of others that has to be rationalized away under some other attribution to make ineffective. You came to your theology fully loaded with your morality, which has then undergone extensive rationalization to make so many square pegs of scriptural misogyny and bigotry fit into the round holes of enlightened equality. Your theology is an impairment you must account for simply to catch up to where you started.

      Comment by tildeb — February 23, 2011 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

      • and yet before we scientifically knew that, we already knew it through theology. science was just 4,000 years slow on the uptake. now who’s system is impaired?

        Comment by zero1ghost — February 23, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

      • Can you explain what is was we knew about mirror neurons 4000 years ago please?

        Comment by tildeb — February 23, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  29. the whole deal about compassion for everyone, judging a tree by it’s fruits (not words only actions, a nod to mirror neurons), and liberation theology’s claim that God stands on the side of the oppressed and victimized and so must we… seek liberation for the captives and one of the reasons is that the tables can be quickly turned. gotta read this stuff to understand the correlation.

    Comment by zero1ghost — February 24, 2011 @ 9:30 am | Reply


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