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Religious Child Abuse — Special Rights for Religion means sexual, physical, and mental abuse

Sean Faircloth is the writer of the excellent book that I am currently reading on my kindle, “Attack of the Theocrats! How the Religious Right Harms Us All“.  He also has some very impressive speeches that he’s given over the past several years working with the Secular Coalition of America and the Richard Dawkins Foundation; and he’ll be at the Reason Rally this weekend.

The following is a speech about child abuse at the hands of the religious.

THIS IS WHY

This is why it’s absolutely necessary for secular people to make their voice heard, because it is not being heard by the government.  The government is so overwhelmingly controlled by the religious that they have carved out special rights that destroy people’s lives.  If adults want to throw their lives into the nonsense, that’s one thing, but harm perpetrated against children should be an offense to everyone.

So, I will see you at the Reason Rally.  This is our opportunity to demand a voice.  To speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

(Another excellent resource about religious child abuse is “Breaking Their Will” by Janet Heimlich.  I read it last year and it was not only a very fair book, in terms of its approach to mainstream faith, but also a very disturbing and necessary book about child abuse and how cults and religions lead to it.)

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Why does anyone like Ron Paul?

I’ve been trying to understand why smart people I know support Ron Paul and I just can’t get my head around it.  I get the sense that maybe the Ron Paul People I know just don’t realize what Ron Paul’s all about. That or they just don’t care.

The Ron Paul People I know are almost all straight, single, relatively young, non-religious, white men. Available demographics suggest that this is an accurate picture; there are others in Ron Paul’s camp, but it’s basically youngish white men.

They do not consider themselves to be Democrats or Republicans. Some of them hate the idea of rules, many of them hate the idea of having their money taken away in taxes, but none of them are stupid or without the resources to learn more about their candidate. And none seem to care about any of Ron Paul’s policies outside of cutting spending, regulations, and taxes.

Every Ron Paul Person I know comes out of the woodwork any time anything negative is said about the guy, no matter how true the statement and no matter how much that individual disagrees with Ron Paul’s position or behavior. I get the sense that libertarians are so excited to have someone on the national stage that they don’t want to see anything problematic with the guy, but he’s transparently a bad deal.

So, why are these people supporting a crazy, racist Christian fundamentalist?

Why People Love Ron Paul:

  1. He believes in reduced military spending
  2. Less taxes, less rules, less government
  3. He wants to end the “War on Drugs”
  4. He is “philosophically consistent”

That last one seems to be big — people seem to think that Ron Paul offers a coherent philosophy to deal with politics and that’s why they like him.

He’s very consistent on the whole taxes idea — he wants to get rid of the income tax, which apparently makes us all the property of the government, and his voting record shows this.  I can see the appeal, even if I totally disagree.

Ron Paul is Anti-Free Market:

But if we take this libertarian personal freedom thing to its logical conclusion, Paul would also be all for open borders and a completely open labor markets, right?  Yeah, but not so much — he’s very anti open borders.

The toughest part of showing any compassion or tolerance to the illegal immigrants … is the tremendous encouragement it gives for more immigrants to come illegally and avoid the wait and the bureaucracy.

So, bureaucracy good when it keeps the brown people out? Taxing the insanely rich is slavery! Letting foreign people work in America should be illegal!

He voted for building a fence on the Mexican border, reporting illegal aliens who go to hospitals, and for banning student visas from “terrorist nations”.  He’s all about reducing the military and allowing the free market, except when it comes to this for some reason.

Oh, it’s also great that he wants to get rid of the fed, I love this. You know who made the fed what it is today? A guy named Alan Greenspan. You know, Alan Greenspan, the most famous and powerful libertarian ever to work in the US government. He was a disciple of Ayn Rand and was part of the inner circle of her cult. Alan Greenspan almost single-handedly caused this recession. By all means, let’s fix the fed, but let us also acknowledge it was a libertarian that got us here!

Ron Paul Doesn’t Support Minorities:

He thinks the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you know that whole equality thing, was a violation of people’s rights and wouldn’t have forced anyone to lift the Jim Crow laws. He called MLKJr day “hate whitey day”.  According to Ron Paul supporters, this is OK because he wants to legalize drugs and end the death penalty, both of which would disproportionately go to help black men.

I don’t even want to go into all of the sketchy things that he’s said, I’ll just offer you this link and be done with it.  Suffice to say, the guy’s said some unkind things about minorities.

On top of this, he wants English to be the official language of the US and thinks government shouldn’t offer services in any other language.  How’s that for federal bureaucratic overhead?

A lot of people respect his position on gay marriage, which is that it shouldn’t be the federal government’s business even though he personally is opposed to it. It may not be the federal government’s business, but he’s certainly voted to enshrine homophobic behavior in federal law. He voted against including “sexual orientation” as a protected class in ENDA, meaning he thinks it’s OK to fire people for being gay, and he voted to ban gay adoptions in DC.

Ron Paul is Against Church/State Separation:

Ron Paul has a 17% rating with the AU, meaning he almost never votes in favor of a bill that would be promoting the separation of church and state.

The guy is crazy fundamentalist, no lie. It informs most of his political positions, including right to life stuff that I’ll address in a minute. But it also includes something that maybe some of my libertarian friends agree with. Ron Paul is one of the few politicians in DC willing to say anything negative about Zionism or Israel, and I know a lot of libertarians think that we shouldn’t be Israel’s protector anymore. But do you know why he doesn’t support Israel?

Despite the fact that many Fundies, known as Premillenialists, support Israel because their end-time theology tells them that it is necessary for the return of Jesus, Christian Reconstructionists like Paul have a different view, basically that the Israeli government isn’t the right one for the end of days and the right sort of Christians are now the chosen people of Revelations.

“I think of the Israeli government as different than what I read about in the Bible. I mean, the Israeli government doesn’t happen to be reflecting God’s views. Some of them are atheist, and their form of government is not what I would support… And there are some people who interpret the chosen people as not being so narrowly defined as only the Jews — that maybe there’s a broader definition of that.”

He and Sarah Palin can get into a fight over whose Christian end of days attitude towards Israel is the right one!

He often gets accused of being anti-Semitic because he’s anti-Zionism, and he may well be, but his position on Israel is all about religion. He’s generally isolationist anyway, so it works with the rest of his shtick.

And, while his faith isn’t his number one talking point, he sure does have a statement of faith on his website and includes a reference to it in his debates.

And, despite the fact that he thinks the education department should be dismantled, he also thinks that public funds should pay for private Christian educations and supports a constitutional amendment in favor of school prayer.  Again, not a libertarian stance at all.

Ron Paul is Rabidly Anti-Choice and Anti-Science:

This goes hand in hand with the crazy religious stuff, it’s all related.

This man, who is a doctor, does not believe in evolution.

This man, who is a doctor, believes that life begins at conception.

He has a somewhat complex view on abortion in that he believes that it, like murder, should be tried and controlled at the state level, not the federal one. That said, he has voted repeatedly for national bills that promote the pro-life cause and introduced a bill that would say that life begins at conception.

He voted not to authorize embryonic stem cell research multiple times. He has a 0% by NARAL, meaning he votes 100% against abortion rights. He voted yes on the Stupak Amendment to prevent health insurance companies from offering abortion coverage. Voted to prevent funding from going to schools that make the morning after pill available and to provide funding for abstinence only education.

He cosponsored a bill to take funds from a needy family benefit program to go to support non-governmental groups that counsel people not to have abortions.

Again, how is this not federal interference?

Ron Paul Helps Billionaires Not the Poor

This section, I know, is where a lot of libertarians are going to agree with his votes, but I have to say I think they don’t reflect well on him.

He is completely against environmental regulation and trying to find alternative energy sources.  Despite his claims that he’d rather have unions control the market than a minimum wage, he voted for legalizing union busting more than once.  Despite his supposed belief in the free market, he voted to ban shareholders from weighing in on executives’ compensation.  Extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich, expanded them, and undermined Social Security by changing the standards.

Voted against the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act to feed children and voted against a measure to ensure children had health insurance.Voted yes on a measure to prevent federally funded laborers to be paid the prevailing wage of the area, so that people making less than a living wage could be reduced even further into poverty!

Ron Paul is a Hypocrite

He is completely inconsistent, not just philosophically as a libertarian, but also on very specific issues like federal funding to local areas.  Which brings us to his response to Katrina.  You’d think someone who was so waffley about his own philosophical convictions when it comes to women’s rights and immigrants would be willing to waffle a little to save lives, after all he’s all sanctity of life, right?

Is bailing out people that chose to live on the coastline a proper function of the federal government?

But at least his congressional district in Texas doesn’t rely on tons of federal funding, right? Oh, no, it’s one of the top in Texas. Federal government using money to save people’s lives is apparently not OK, but him earmarking funds for his district is cool. More important than Katrina victims? Removing a sunken ship from a harbor and sending a few million dollars to Texan shrimp fishermen.

Ron Paul is a Little Nuts

But of course, my favorite part about Ron Paul is that he thinks the executive branch shouldn’t have very much power. The problem with that is that if you elect Ron Paul, he can’t do anything without violating his own philosophy because he would be the executive branch of the federal government.  Ron Paul just doesn’t make sense for anyone.

He thinks we should go back to the gold standard, which I think is pretty crazy, but that’s hardly the only place he goes a bit weird. On The Daily Show he said the following, I guess suggesting that he’s for regulations after he’s against them:

The regulations are much tougher in a free market, because you cannot commit fraud, you cannot steal, you cannot hurt people, and the failure has come that government wouldn’t enforce this. In the Industrial Revolution there was a collusion and you could pollute and they got away with it. But in a true free market in a libertarian society you can’t do that. You have to be responsible. So the regulations would be tougher.

And then there’s this:

I’ve been told not to talk, but these stooges don’t scare me. Threats or no threats, I’ve laid bare the coming race war in our big cities. The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one.) The Bohemian Grove–perverted, pagan playground of the powerful. Skull & Bones: the demonic fraternity that includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, Congress’s Mr. New Money. The Israeli lobby, which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica.

If people know this about Ron Paul and still want to vote for him, that’s obviously their choice, but I can’t help but feel like the only way you could vote for him would be in ignorance or denial of these facts.

Derren Brown vs Faith Healing

There are few things more difficult for the skeptic to let go of than their faith in their own intelligence.  After all, recognizing the untruth of something lots of people believe in (gods, psychics, bigfoots) does give one a sense of intellectual superiority.  I've certainly been guilty of a sort of mental vanity that is borderline absurd — not because I'm not smart but because no one is smart enough to overcome the inherent fallibility of the human mind.  Smart people are often just better at tricking themselves into believing whatever it is they wish to be true.

And this is why I so appreciate the work of Derren Brown, a mentalist and magician who captivated me last year when I read his book "Tricks of the Mind".  He reminds me of Stephen Fry — brilliant, funny, atheist, gay and charming — like something from an Oscar Wilde play, not of this time.  Derren's schtick is to do magic tricks while explaining why the mind falls for them — he's sort of like a psychologist of magic.  It's similar to Penn & Teller, but his tricks are less sleight of hand and more sleight of mind.  He has gotten some flak in skeptic circles because he usually has a trick or two he doesn't explain, retaining some of that appeal to mysticism that he's otherwise debunking, but it's all part of the show.

If you share with me a love of the horrifically compelling documentary "Marjoe" or the delightful Steve Martin film "Leap of Faith", or if you just hate swindlers, especially those abusing religion to take advantage of people, then you'll be interested in Derren's latest TV Special, slated to air in the UK on C4 Monday night at 9.  It is called "Miracles for Sale" which is a rather tame title considering the subject matter.

The special will follow Derren's attempt, which one assumes was successful since it's airing, to turn an average Joe from the streets into a faith healer, using only tricks of the mentalist trade.  Basically, he's going to see if people fall for obvious fraud.  Derren claims that this is not about God, but about exposing fraud, though it can't help but paint religion and the entire idea of faith healing in an intensely negative light.

Although I don't hide my own lack of religious belief, my repulsion at this scam comes as much from my days as a Christian as it does from simply being a human being observing ego- and money-driven fraud.

As a former Evangelical, Derren manages to have street cred with Christians, although many others see his de-conversion as some sort of personal insult or, typically, a sign that he was never really a Christian in the first place.  And of course he's already getting the kind of braindead responses you'd expect from the faith healing crowds.  "U say there's no proof of genuine miracle?  Where have u been looking??  I've personally SEEN the blind SEE the Deaf hear and many other miracles…" "Jesus heals people all the time.  It is not faith healing though.  When Jesus speaks to someone they get healed.  Everything he does works."

So much for helping those in need.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-O9aNl2Xrk&feature=related

Emotions Are Not The Enemy

When I was an adolescent, I really wanted to be Mr. Spock. I thought that being hyper-logical and unemotional would be far better than being hyper-logical and hyper-emotional. I think there is a particular kind of self-loathing that kids develop when they’re far more intellectually developed than they are emotionally developed, like I was, and it can result in an extreme distrust of emotions and things that are not strictly logical. It took me going through and coming out of an extreme depression to realize that treating emotions as the enemy wasn’t only kind of stupid, but it was also really unhealthy.

Sci-Five!

I think that there is a lot of this in the atheist/skeptic community. I don’t want to fall into the fallacy that women are more compassionate than men, but I do think that the lack of large numbers of women doesn’t help. The association of emotions with women is so strong that it seems many people are uncomfortable with thinking of emotions as important empirically, or important in comparison with logic. It’s not just men who don’t want to be seen as weak, women are also afraid of being seen as stereotypically female and not as rational as men.

Today, Hemant at The Friendly Atheist posted about a woman who, at the hands of her religious upbringing, was taught to be so ashamed of her body that she was unable to breastfeed because she was so uncomfortable with her breasts. Hemant made a real effort to give a feminist response – women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies and it’s not his place to make those decisions for someone else – but he also said “It’s ultimately her choice, but I think I’d feel more comfortable about her decision (as if it matters what I think) if there was a more scientific rationale behind it.”

I recognize in blogging you often say things off the cuff that, given a little more thought, you probably would have worded differently, but I have to say I was a bit flabbergasted that Hemant would dismiss dealing with trauma as lacking in “scientific rationale”, as though any decision made based on emotion is necessarily irrational and therefore bad. And I should say I’ve no reason to think that he wants to change the language, but I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. I love Hemant, I love his blog, I can only assume the best of him, so I hope that the way he worded it wasn’t the way he meant it.

Stop Being so Illogical!

I feel like the atheist/skeptic community does a lot of dismissing of people’s feelings. It happens whenever a woman brings up feeling uncomfortable, underrepresented, or underserved by the community. It happens whenever people point out the small number of minorities, or being uncomfortable by perceived racism. There’s something about emotions that seems to really bother people. If nothing else, I think it isn’t useful to dismiss someone’s feelings as invalid, no matter how wrong you’re sure they are.  Perhaps it’s too difficult a line to walk, but treating people’s emotions as something they should be embarrassed by isn’t only cruel, it doesn’t serve any useful purpose. Ideas and behavior are things worth critiquing, but someone’s emotions cannot be invalid, you cannot argue with someone that they can’t feel something, that’s not how it works. How they respond to their feelings? Yes, that’s fair game, but that they have feelings at all isn’t something you get to say is bad.

Cheer Up Emo Kid!

I can’t help but look at the traditional associations of emotion with women and children and logic with men and be a bit bothered by all this from a feminist perspective. I don’t think it’s conscious, but it seems like because emotions are seen as girly they are also seen as unimportant and weak. And if something is logical or rational, it is manly and strong and important. It’s not limited to this community, but also a lot of my friends who are interested in film, a group that is dominated by men as well. When a movie is technically impressive, it is important, but if a movie relies on emotions, it is not. The King’s Speech shouldn’t have won the Oscar because it’s just a story about emotions, not a technical feat like Inception or The Social Network, because emotions aren’t important.  That’s why some movies go to Lifetime and some go to Spike TV.

I ultimately decided that Spock was more irrational than people because he treated the emotional experience as invalid. Although dedicated to logic, Spock never took the extra step and accepted that human emotion was rational, and existed for rational reasons, and that to dismiss it was very limiting. Ignoring the importance of emotion and emotional health isn’t actually a rational way to deal with people. To pretend that human emotions don’t matter or aren’t important, to dismiss mental health as a non-scientific reason for pursuing a course of action… it is most illogical.

I don’t understand religion part 923

How can a person hold these two thoughts in their head?

1. The universe is too complex to simply exist, it must have been created

2. God, something so complex it can create and control universes, doesn’t require a creator

It seems to me that you can have two viewpoints that are internally consistent.  You can believe either:

1. Complicated things can exist without a creator, allowing the possibility of a universe without a creator and the possibility of God or

2. Everything complicated requires a creator, demanding a creator of the universe but denying the possibility of God at the same time

I just had this question with someone who is not a stupid person.  I know that atheist readers sometimes have difficulty grasping that not stupid people can believe in God, I myself have that difficulty at times, but I just cannot understand the complete lack of logic there.  Not only that, but the inability of the person in question to grasp the logic fail of saying that “everything must have a cause, except God” which means that not everything must have a cause, which means there’s no need for God.

Here is a place where it is laid out in much fuller detail, but if anyone can explain to me how those two thoughts exist inside the head of a not stupid person, please do, because he sure couldn’t.

Bishop Gene Robinson to Retire Early

Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly non-celibate gay bishop of the Episcopal Church is going to retire early because of the non-stop death threats he continues to get from Christians.

You know, there are always calls for Muslims to speak up against terrorism, but I’d like some Christians to publicly come out supporting the Bishop and denouncing the people sending him death threats. You want to complain that there aren’t enough moderate muslim voices? Then show me some moderate Christian ones.

Gene Robinson is an incredibly decent human being who is being terrorized because people who believe almost exactly the same thing he does, don’t like who he loves. Things like this make me find the appeal of Christianity completely incomprehensible.

And for those of you who say that that is not the behavior of a True Christian, I’d like to point you to the No True Scotsman fallacy as well as Leviticus. For those of you who think the appropriate way to deal with someone you don’t like is to threaten to murder them, you need help.

For the Christians who don’t particularly like the death threats but are glad that they’ve gotten this homosexual to step down, your tacit support is the moral equivalent of approving of Al Qaeda and Imams calling for death threats. You don’t have to agree with his lifestyle, but you should be at the front of the crowd denouncing the people using terrorism to get their(your) way.

African American Freethinking

As a relatively rare woman in the humanist/atheist/freethinker etc. movement, I have an interest in the demographics of said movement.  There are many, many thoughts as to why there are so few women and so few people of color and I always find it fascinating to hear the stories of difficulties coming to terms with being different.

Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes at Unscripted has written a very interesting post on her transition from Christian to humanist, the particular challenges and benefits of humanism to African Americans, and how the complete integration of Black Life and Religious Life is a contributing factor to the difficulties African Americans face.

I asked myself, “Why were people so hell bent on worshipping a god that justified their enslavement?….in worshipping a god that justified the stealing of their land and the displacement of their people?” “Why could so many I encountered not even conceive of a morality not based on religion?” Racism affects the very reality upon which one values him or herself within the given societal paradigm. Living in America, it is easy to become consumed with self-hate and defeat. So many of Black and Brown people give up on their lives before they really ever begin! Because of this, the promise of life ever-lasting can be extremely appealing and religion continues as a most effective mechanism for perpetual bondage, keeping the masses intellectually and emotionally enslaved.

Culture can be broken down into three main concepts. The cultural seed, which is the determinative and explanatory aspect of a culture that puts into perspective the cultural manifestations of a people in reference to their historical and cultural evolution; the way a people must think in order to manifest its cultural seed; and the will of the culture, purpose, and collective behavior of a people.

I believe humanism can be the new cultural seed, upon which we build a stronger sense of our humanity, a deeper understanding of our connection to each other and to the world in which we live. The more I learned and the more I observed, it became obvious that the very seed from which African American culture had been shaped was fertilized by Christianity. And as is always the problem with toxic fertilizers, it cannot simply be washed away because it now a part of the fruit itself. Black life and church life have become synonymous, and the only way to adjust for this is by planting a new cultural seed, one fertilized with concepts of freethought!

I get e-mail! (TL;DR edition)

I have an account on OKCupid, mostly because I use it to take tests and answer questions, though I have in the past used it to date. I often get messages that are perfectly ignorable, but occasionally I get ones that are interested in my skeptical positions. A gentleman who is my age sent me a message, and here is the conversation we’ve had so far. Any editing is just to make it more readable.

I just wanted to say, I am totally interested in you and I kinda wanted to expand my mind by entering into a debate over religion and politics with you if that’s cool.

I start first by saying that I’m totally mature and open to even the deepest levels of debate on these taboo subjects…even deeper than most would feel comfortable.

Next, I was raise in a single parent home where my mother (who her own mother died of cancer) believed in GOD but hated his ass. When I was 13, I found GOD, and my Dad, and read the entire bible. My Dad who was a devout christian abuse me from 13 to 15.

I have seen a lot of shit and I’ve grown enough to realize that while there are things that occur that made me believe that GOD does exist, I too like mother hates even the mere thought of it. That some being over saw my life and CHOSE for or allowed that shit to happen…and to happen to all of the others in the world that suffer daily without justice or sufficient help.

I believe that religion is a method of control used to keep us in check. If life had no purpose than why would we buy IPODs right!?! They want us to buy and consume. It’s a fucking trick. It has ALWAYS been a political tool.

Now then, with that being said. I DO believe in and have witnessed to events occurring that appears to be beyond coincidence…like fate or something…I can’t explain it….Anywho your thoughts?

I was also raised in a single parent home by a devout mother, she lost both of her parents to cancer at a young age.

I was about 13 when I became really interested in religion because it all struck me as untrue. I read a lot about world religions, I wanted to see if anything struck me as true because the bible never had. Eventually, I decided I was agnostic, until 9/11 at which point I sort of dropped the whole interest in organized religion.

I’ve never seen anything that I think the only explanation could be god. Usually when exploring something either scientifically or statistically, rare events are actually very common. I obviously cannot speak to your specific experiences, as they are personal, but I can tell you that the experience of religion is a psychological one that people who are not religious can experience — it’s a set of chemical reactions, like the ones associated with near death experiences.

I think spirituality, particularly a questing one, is generally a positive thing, so long as it’s not overly credulous. People who believe anything they hear are prone to being swindled or hurt. Organized religion, on the other hand, is a manmade institution posing as a Godly one — and for that reason generally capable of the kinds of evil most men don’t even dream of.

Outstanding…I misspoke earlier…Instead of saying some experiences prove there is a God…I should have said some experience make me believe in the extraordinary or supernatural.

I totally believe that we are only conscious matter floating in space…but I also believe that things can occur that aren’t readily or easy explain…though I’m sure can be with the right mind. I’m speaking more about probability here because EVERYTHING ELSE CAN BE EXPLAINED THOUGH SCIENTIFIC AND LOGICAL METHODS. But can someone explain how or why back in 2007 when I was needing money for my family so I buy a lotto ticket, the 19 year kid behind me buys the same ticket scratches the jackpot…I can’t explain that…but I was pissed at who ever orchestrated that little joke on me….just saying..

Anywho thanks for humoring me this was fun…..Oh and I totally wish I typed what you typed earlier….cause I totally agreed… 🙂

Well, almost all the people who buy lotto tickets are in need of money. Socioeconomically speaking, the most economically disadvantaged tend to be the biggest buyers of lottery tickets — this is part of the reason that a lot of people have moral problems with state lottos as they are essentially a tax on the poor. So, everyone who ever buys a ticket is going to be horrified that someone else got the jackpot when they didn’t. People are incredibly self-centered, and so they remember the odd things that happened in which they were the star — which is why this stands out in your memory. In reality, if you ever play the lotto, the odds are pretty good that you won’t win, however someone has to actually win it. So while your odds aren’t that good, your odds of encountering a winner, especially if you play often and spend time with others who do as well, are pretty high.

God, I love you!!! I mean I freaking LOVE YOU!!! You’re sooo honest but equally informed, like Bill Maher or the old non bitch-assed Dennis Miller. That analysis of my 2007 lotto situation felt like…..liiiiike…..like a HARD kick in the nuts with a steel toe boot and I didn’t even braise myself. I just turned around and then WHACK!!! Right in the balls, yet in some masochistic way it welcomed….I can’t explain it really…I feel like revealing some other personal things about myself so you could dissect them again….then ram your results down my throat!

That was a joke…I’m not a creep…

Anyway – My retort: You’re totally right. I AM self-centered. Everyone should be. My interpretation of the world is based on MY own experiences as is EVERYONES. (World- including any cultural, societal, and spiritual beliefs/moral.) While this IS true (as I say, at least for me) I find that I’m also unusually empathic to the plight of other Sapiens though I can’t ever completely hone cultures that are totally different from the one I was raised (Western Civilization).

With that being said, I can not help my dark and selfish nature. I DO desire more than what I have, though I have more than most human beings because of our “luck” in being born here in privilege.

Referring back to your aforementioned statement regarding the emotion poor, arrogant, idiots endure from losing at an inherently masked and corrupted faux-tax dubbed “the lottery” – why can’t I assume that since I was “lucky” enough to be born out of oppression (African and South Asian countries) that I’d also be “lucky” enough to win the lotto AND not FEEL so self-centered!…. 🙂

One more thing, I have to go to work tonight around 5:30pm til 6am the next mourning so If I miss your reply today than I can’t reply again until this time tomorrow mourning…Thanks again for the attention.

If you think about all the encounters we have every single day, it would actually be really strange if there weren’t any coincidences.

My mom, for example, thinks she has the ability to make me call her because sometimes when she thinks of me, I do call her. But I call her all the time, and she probably thinks about me often. She just remembers when the two overlap and forgets all the times she thinks of me and I don’t call, or all the times I do call and she wasn’t thinking of me. Selective memory and confirmation bias.

Hmmm…..Totally feeling the coincidence theorem, but I feel that there’s more. Jesus-babble aside, How do you feel about telepathy, or ki energy/ aura manipulation, or other forms of extrasensory perception? My feelings towards these subjects are totally rooted in science.

I think all of that is, not to put too fine a point on it, complete bullshit.

Seriously!?! Really though!?! Crap, I have SOOO much more to say but I HAVE to leave for work in 30 mins. BUT BEFORE I GO – String Theory??? Quantum Mechanics??? Alternate Dimensions???

I think that particle physics is very interesting, but I think there’s a big difference in string theory and the nonsense put forth by “what the bleep do we know”.

Huh?? I don’t follow…What is “What the bleep do we know”??? Is that the name of something…like a noun. A title of a book or TV show??? What is the “nonsense” that you speak of. Can I google it for more info?

Anyway, I need to speak more about your mother’s supposed clairvoyance and how I feel its purposed presence is relevant to several theorem posed by some credible names in Quantum physics…..But first I need to eat my Corn Pops and watch Fringe….So I’ll typie type a little later. 🙂

Ok, sigh…..I know I’m JUST typing you back…but I encountered a traumatic experience last night and I’m soooo frustrated by it that I can hardly stand myself.

Here’s what happened: Last night, I disconnected my netbook then sat down stairs to watch Smallville and Supernatural while simultaneously typing my feelings on your “My Mom’s a telepath” example.

I typed soooo much stuff, and during second half commercials I went to my kitchen to blend some juice and frozen fruit. While I was doing that, Smallville was airing a showdown between Clark and an old Lex. So I sat down to watch this. Another commercial comes so I run in the kitchen to stop my blender, pour my beverage then sit back down to chill. When I looked back at my netbook, it was turned off. I figured it went to STANDBY. But when I tried to log on I realized that the friggin battery died!!! I gathered the wall plug then turn on my N-book, and realized then that NOTHING was saved!!! NOTHING!!!! I was livid!

Anyway, I don’t feel like remembering EVERY-FREAKING-THING I typed so I’ll summarize: Your mom COULD HAVE thought a thought that was “mentally emailed” and then received by you at the time of her first thinking of that thought, but that single thought wasn’t enough to overpower EVERY OTHER thought that you were thinking at that exact moment. So that thought “To Call Your Mom” was deferred to a later time/date or not EVEN important enough for you to store in your long term memory. So you forget the thought…until you “remembered” later only by then you think it’s your original thought then you call but LONG after SHE originally thought the thought in the first instance. It’s actually hard to measure unless you were doing some sort of trial experiments or something.

Thoughts “POP” into our heads ALL of the time but our primitive levels of cognition are always prioritized over all other less meaningful/important thoughts. For instance, hunger or pain or fatigue – all forms of discomfort – WILL cause you to forget or postpone even the most important of your daily tasks.

Imagine this experiment: Clear your mind of as many distractions as you can. Ensure that you’re completely comfortable. Then see if you can feel the thoughts of someone else in close proximity. The feeling should resemble the feeling of when a thought just “pop” in your mind.

There’s sooo much more I want to say about this subject but I want to send this (before my battery dies again) and have you respond to see if this even interests you…because I may need to change the subject I guess…..

Are you familiar with Occam’s Razor? It’s the premise with the least contingencies, the least clarifications, the simplest premise is usually correct.

What is more likely? That I usually call my mom several times a day regardless or that the entire world’s understanding of physics is incorrect and there’s some magical way for one brain to communicate with another, regardless of proximity, strength of connection or thought? A way of communication that has been repeatedly proven false in laboratory tests.

Basically what I’m saying is everything you just said is nonsense with no evidence and a complicated explanation for something that has an incredibly simple, natural explanation. No supernatural forces necessary.

http://listverse.com/2008/04/10/top-10-psychic-debunkings/

Magical!?! SUPERNATURAL!?! Ouch… Look, Ms. Tech – Einstein said matter and energy are equal. You and I are matter. We also emit low electromagnetic waves. Is it SO far fetched to believe that our bodies can interpret incoming “waves” as information!?! You’re starting to sound like a FLAT-EARTHER! lol

Okay……Okay, sorry about the name calling….I like to keep an open mind to EVERY possibility….plus I’m a little sleepy and in turn cranky. I’ll message again when I’m rested…again, I’m sorry 🙂

You are mixing your concepts. There’s no reason to think that people emit thoughts via electromagnetic waves. So, assuming that you could even detect electromagnetic waves, which humans can’t because they don’t have the necessary sensory organs, unlike sharks for example. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ampullae_of_Lorenzini ) Electric fields are generated by muscles, which your brain is most certainly not.

Furthermore, even in a conducive body (ie water), even with organs specifically directed to that purpose, sharks cannot sense small electric fields from great distances.

Finally, we’re not talking about something that no one’s ever thought of or investigated. It’s not like string theory, where it’s difficult to run experiments. Hundreds of experiments on psychic powers have repeatedly shown that any form of telepathy is complete and utter bunk.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrbtt_110-esp_tech

50 Book Challenge: 41-45

5 Books left!

It is the end of week 37, and I have just finished book 45.  I feel like I should continue reviewing books I finish after the fifty, keep counting to see how many I finish, because 50 is now basically inevitable.  Maybe my challenge for next year will be to try to finish more than this year, rather than 50.

41. The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament – Mike Davis

Asimov’s New Testament book sits heavily on my shelf, waiting impatiently for me to rally the nerve to throw myself into reading it.  I find the Old Testament a lot more interesting than the New Testament, mostly because it’s way more mythological and hardcore, and it’s more a history of an entire people than just like this one guy.

As a kid, I always thought Jesus was both kinda creepy and really boring — like Ned Flanders.  There was just something about the image of this weird hippie guy with long hair always hanging out with kids and lambs that I found unsettling in a “don’t get in the van” sort of way.  And the New Testament, when I read it, never made that feeling go away.  So I’m just sort of predisposed not to be terribly interested in the NT, but I feel like I should be, since I dislike Christianity so much.  It just gives me the heebie jeebies.

All of this being my way of saying that I read this because it was way shorter than Asimov’s book and I hoped it would make me more interested.  It did and it didn’t.  I find the story of how the NT came to be (eg Bart Ehrman’s work) a lot more interesting than anything in the NT, and this book certainly feeds into some of that.  It’s a very very interesting read, and I’d obviously recommend it to any curious believer.  I think this book is a slightly easier read that Bart Ehrman, but not nearly as exhaustively well-informed.

42. Lyra’s Oxford – Philip Pullman

This was a short book that was not nearly as good as the books it is a sequel to, His Dark Materials.  Basically, it was just way too short and tacked on, very little there.

43. LSAT Logic Games Bible – David Killoran

I really like logic and logic games so I did actually enjoy reading this book and solving the problems in it.  But I’m a huge nerd, so I’m not sure that you should just accept that.  Unless you’re taking the LSAT, obviously, in which case you should like this too.

44. The Truth – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

Not to be confused with The Truth (with Jokes) by Al Franken, of course.  I enjoyed this book, it’s basically about the invention of/introduction of newspapers to Ankh Morpork, but it was hardly anything to write home about.  A solid B.  It’s basically a stand alone novel, with only bit parts for characters in the city that have featured in other Discworld novels.  I didn’t particularly care for any of the main characters, which sort of made the whole thing less interesting.

45. Thief of Time – Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs

I enjoyed this quite a bit.  It has one of my favorite Discworld characters, Susan, and touches on some of the same apocalyptic themes as Good Omens.  I think this will end up being one of my favorites, one that I may try to read some time again in the future.  It involved chocolate saving the day by blowing people up because it was so delicious.

Even with nougat you can have a perfect moment.

Extra: I tried to read Freethinkers by Susan Jacoby and I got about 200 pages into it before being too bored to continue.  When faced with the dilemma of finishing it before I had to return it to the library or not… I chose not.  My intense disinterest in the history of America after 1865 probably didn’t help.

Why do atheists always have to mock religion?

I was asked this question, sincerely, by a relatively new convert to fundie christianity who had been, throughout the evening, talking an awful lot about church and god and such.  I had gotten bored of that and, over the course of about 10 seconds, referred to the xtian god as an invisible friend, sky daddy, and had finally gone too far by calling Mohammed “Mo”.

He lashed out, very frustrated that I didn’t take the religion thing very seriously, after all I took atheism seriously, right?

I mock religion for the same reason I mock Twilight, though at least Twilight fans generally have the good sense to realize that the book they obsess over is fiction.  It’s very difficult not to make fun of someone with bad taste or who believes something that is obviously very silly, especially when the undertone of your every day life is that there’s something wrong with you for not believing.  And sometimes it’s just fun to make fun of something that is a sacred cow, because why on earth should I have to respect your sacred cows?  I just don’t see why I have to respect your belief that you’re better than everyone else because an invisible man in the sky wrote it down in a self-contradicting book.

I said it was the same as making fun of an adult who still believed in Santa Claus, but he claimed he wouldn’t do that.  I don’t really think the average believer wouldn’t mock someone who believed in Santa at the age of 30, and as believers don’t refrain from mocking other belief systems, I’m going to feel pretty safe in that assumption.

Religion makes factual claims about the physical world, and to be a fundamentalist of any stripe requires ceding your thought process over to something that is demonstrably false.  If you’re going to be a touchy-feely deistic type of believer who doesn’t fund the evil things religion does, then fine, but don’t ask me to respect you for brainwashing children, destroying civil rights, and being responsible for the creation of Christian Rock.

I’m not sure to what degree the average religious believer is willing to “take responsibility” for the religious doctrines they believe, the religious institutions they are members of and support financially, or the religious leaders they follow and thereby give power and authority to. I can’t begin to count how often I’ve seen religious believers disparage civil rights protections for gays on the argument that homosexuality is “chosen” without recognizing that religion is far more like a “chosen” set of behaviors than it is like an inherent characteristic like race or sex.

People say they adopt certain moral positions because it’s what their god wants and thus disclaim any responsibility for either the moral position or any of its consequences. People vote in certain ways because of what religious leaders tell them about the meaning of scripture and/or the will of their god and thus try to avoid personal responsibility for what the government does in their name.