Morris on my Mind, and Not the Saved by the Bell One…

Once again we are visited by our good friend David Goza who lights our way regularly from the dark pits of YouTube

A weekend of collecting, sorting and cleaning Ordovician-Period marine fossils from the Arbuckle Mountains has got me thinking once again about one of the strangest beliefs held by fundamentalist Christians: that about 4,400 or so years ago, the deity who had created the universe a couple of millennia earlier got all pissed off and wiped out almost everything in a global flood. I suppose that would have been a good enough belief for someone living in the Middle Ages, but its prestige has been completely undercut by the science of geology, beginning with its birth in the late 17th century. By around the middle of the 19th century, the only people who still took the Noahic Flood seriously were circuit-riding evangelists and the crowds of superstitious, snake-handling bumpkins who followed them. In most cases, their backwardness can clearly be attributed to the lack of general education.

 

During the second half of the 19th century, public education began to rectify some of the illiteracy and ignorance that had characterized the frontier population at large; this program went into full swing after the Civil War and the U.S. gradually began to show signs of a more general secular awakening. That awakening looked frightening to many people (not least to the preachers whose incomes were thereby threatened), and it was out of that fear that fundamentalism was born late in that century.

 

Unlike the frontier revivalism that characterized much of the U.S. earlier in the 19th century, fundamentalism was in some respects a self-consciously “modern” movement. It was born out of a psychological conflict: the wish to enjoy the fruits of modernity (making necessary a kind of lip-service to the sciences that made those benisons possible) while swearing allegiance to the literal truth of the Bible – one of the strangest notions that’s ever been hatched by the unquiet mind of man. Since the findings of science were obviously at odds with biblical cosmology and history, fundamentalists were at pains to debunk those findings.
Continue reading “Morris on my Mind, and Not the Saved by the Bell One…”

Religion: Best Intentions, Useless Today

© Jordan Smith

I feel like religion definitely had a purpose, many years ago. Its inception was our first attempt at scientific exploration and philosophy. Before our species had the scientific knowledge to ponder such questions as why items fall to the ground? Or how does it rain? We first had the thirst for knowledge – curiosity. This is a lovely statement about the good nature of humanity and in fact most life on earth. We are a curious bunch. Ignorant of basic facts, and without any true measurements or understanding of life, we, as a species attempted to fill the gaps in our knowledge with explanations – sadly this lead to a one size fits all answer ‘God did it’

 

As we know from religious scripture, all 3 of the monolithic religions tried and completely failed to understand science. From the old Jewish bible which claims men come from dirt & women come from the ribs of men, to the Quran which claims the sun sets in the mud & sperm comes from the back bone & ribs (spot the copycat pattern?) To the new Testament which claims men can rise from the dead and walk on water.

 

Funnily enough, religious claims of astounding miracles happened often up until the invention of the camera and video camera, then suddenly, God stopped letting people walk on water or showing himself in the clouds – then Photoshop was invented, and back came the claims of divinity – along with airbrushed supermodels and images of teenagers with oddly placed beer cans in their hands. I’m not saying there is a connection between the fact miracles disappeared when humans had the opportunity to prove or disprove them … Actually I am, miracles are bullshit, the connection is clear.
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The Generational Fight For Religion

© 2015 Jen Aldrich

As none of you may know, one of my many hobbies is genealogy. I find bridging the past to the present absolutely fascinating, and was quite shocked how easily that could be done. My interest started when I decided to research my own family. One side of my family I knew next to nothing about, and the other almost just as little. Once I had started, I realized that many things may actually be nature instead of nurture. Then I began to wonder, what, if anything, do I have in common with my ancestors?

 

I found that a common theme among both sides of the family was being on the wrong side of religion. Now, before I get into this any further, I should make you all aware that I am an atheist, and with the current climate in the United States, I can also claim the family trait of being on the wrong side.

 

Two lines of my family both left their home countries in fear of religious persecution. One, being Puritans (and not just any Puritans, but Separatists) in England during the reign of King Charles the first, and the second where Presbyterians Covenanters from Northern Ireland who fled to escape rising rent prices and church burnings in Northern Ireland. The English side arrived in 1632, in Mendon, Massachusetts, and the Irish arrived in 1772 and settled in South Carolina. As you can see, both groups had arrived before the Revolutionary War, with a severe distaste for England, and most notably, the barbaric ways in which religion was forced upon people by the crown.
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From the Bones of the Past We Can Find Purpose in the Future

David Goza stops by to lay down the smack.

This one’s for Jonny B., who’s been on my mind.

A visit to the Museum of Osteology can precipitate quite a train of thought, provided one is open to that pleasure. I’m fortunate to live a mere 20 miles away, and pay it a visit now and then. I always spend a good deal of time tracing limbed vertebrate evolution through various ancient and modern skeletons on display, admiring especially the universal template shared by amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals –a template that begins with a shoulder or hip, then includes one long bone, then an elbow or knee, then two bones, then a wrist or ankle, then lots of bones, then digits (which have become fused in quite a few cases, in the wings of birds and the hooves of ruminants).Yesterday I gazed upon skulls and skeletons of our vertebrate kin, remote both in time and in degree of cousinhood, and a sense of continuity, of being embedded in an everlasting flow of events simply took hold of me. It was a transcendent experience that has great staying power. I’m moved to share some of this with you, even while realizing that I can’t possibly capture it in words.

 

It was gazing into the empty eye-sockets of Australopithecus africanus, of Homo habilis, of Homo erectus, of Homo heidelbergensis, of Homo neanderthalensis, that unleashed a flood of reflection on “selfhood.” Was that sense of identity as strong in some of those ancestors and cousins I just named as it is in us? Does an elephant have a sense of self? Does a dolphin?

See the Original Post Here
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When They Stand at the Edge of Non-Belief It’s so Hard Not to Push

Once again we are visited by our good friend David Goza who lights our way regularly from the dark pits of YouTube

The questionnaire that I have my students fill out at the beginning of every semester includes questions designed with a view to getting to know who my students are. I always find the answers interesting and revealing, and occasionally alarming.

 

One of the questions I ask is, “What is the biggest idea you’ve ever had to come to terms with?” As you can no doubt imagine, I see quite a range of answers to this one: everything from “what goes on inside a black hole?” to “I’ll soon have to move out of my parents’ basement,” with a smattering of references to mortality and religion in between. A few students leave that one blank – just don’t care to touch it. (Have they never wrestled with a big idea?) A few semesters ago, one student responded with, “fucking magnets – how do they work?

 

Among last semester’s crop of students was a young woman from a small Oklahoma town who wrote the following in response to my nosy question: “Everyone does not believe what I do from a religious perspective. It’s hard for me to understand why others believe what they do. I am Southern Baptist.”

 

Believe it or not, I understand her predicament and sympathize. I’ve been there.

 

What I wish I could have said to her, and of course didn’t and never will on principle, is something like the following:
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An Atheist Participates in Evolution: Broken Ears and Fears

The fourth of July has come and gone once again with a bit more of a bang in Michigan than usual; the legalization of airborne fireworks reducing neighborhoods to the quiet relaxing sounds of Afghanistan and Syria, not to mention rampant pet terror at what could only be “The End of Days”. All this culminating as I sat watching the Kentwood Michigan fireworks display with an uneasy feeling as to the development of my baby girl in utero and my own evolutionary failings.

 

For those of you who haven’t gathered from the above pseudonym I am fond of, Deafilosophy, I am an 85-90 percent deaf atheist with no memory of ever having full spectrum hearing.

 

The reason my handicap is important for a post about the evolution of a tiny life has to do with genetics, mutation, protein mis-folding, and bullying.  I know that last one is a bit of a stretch but, patience grasshopper, all will be tied in a neat little bow before long.

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Seeing God at the Bottom of a Water Bong

Once again we are visited by our good friend David Goza who lights our way regularly from the dark pits of YouTube

Anatomically modern humans have lived on this planet for at least 200,000 years. During that time, our ancestors – or people whom our ancestors knew – have eaten, drunk, smoked, snorted, or otherwise ingested (use your rich imagination) absolutely everything on the surface of this planet. You know that’s true – hell, they’re still doing it! Now, some of those things caused the ingestees to die horribly. Those particular people were not our ancestors. Our ancestors no doubt learned from their unfortunate example, however, and the observations they passed along have become the received wisdom of later generations: don’t drink that, don’t stick that up your tookus….

 

But some of those things caused our ancestors to see the world in ways they might otherwise never have discovered, and to interact with it in ways that could not have been foreseen. Here’s an example: about 23,000 years ago, at the height of the last of the Pleistocene glaciations, there were modern humans living along the Atlantic seacoast in southern Europe – I’m talking about the Solutrean culture. If there’s ice year-round only a few hundred miles north of you, that means you’re living in a climate that’s similar to what present-day denizens of Wasilla, Alaska enjoy. People could live on the coast during the summer – and we have ample evidence that they did, and that one of their main sources of protein was fish. But it’s too cold to live there during the winter, so you go inland and upland and take advantage of the karst features. In nearby regions in what are now France and Spain, people weathered over in the limestone caves, taking with them whatever they could hoard over the course of the summer: dried fish, fruits, nuts, berries, tubers… and of course they supplemented their diet with whatever grows in the perpetual darkness of caves, in that growth medium so generously provided by roosting bats.

 

We all know what that is, right? Et voilà! – art is born! You know the art I’m talking about: art so extraordinary that it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; the splendid cave paintings associated with such place names as Lascaux, Chauvet and Altamira. Do you imagine for a moment that there’s no connection between magic mushrooms and the birth of art? And can you think of any better event to fix as the watershed between being merely anatomically modern and being behaviorally modern, than the birth of art in a particular culture? The birth of art and the birth of truly modern humanity are two names for the same thing. I suspect that Mother Nature’s natural pharmacy has had much to do with the blossoming of human creativity. Please understand that I’m not fixing the birth of modern humanity at the birth of art in any one particular place: it happened at many different times and in many different places, and is in some sense an ongoing process. There’s a reason that the most fantastic symphonies – and I mean that literally – were written during the Nineteenth Century, when virtually every major European artist was coked to the gills on opium (which was perfectly legal and not overly expensive).
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Evil Empire: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act for Adoption

Governor Rick Snyder would rather have 13,000 children languish in state sponsored homes and foster care than let any one of them be adopted by two loving men or women. There I said it, we all know thats what he really means. The recently rushed and signed (June 11) bill by the Michigan Governor is essentially the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for adoption and has already drawn the ire of the ACLU. The same derogatory and incendiary language for refusing services based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” has been passed in Michigan with little or no mention from any social media sphere even with the almost identical Indiana bill, complete with collective uproar, happening only a short while ago.. Sad proof that without prompt most of us just simply don’t care enough to participate unless CNN or Fox News scream it into our lives.

 

I have heard three arguments for the support of such a bill and they are as follows:

 

  1. “This is about making sure we get the largest number of kids in forever families,” Snyder said in a phone interview. “The more opportunities and organizations we have that are doing a good job of placing people in loving families, isn’t that better for all of us?”
  2. The moral and traditional two parent, dual sex household is the best and only acceptable home for an adopted child.
  3. There is an economic reason for turning away these homosexual couples and the state cannot handle any more costs.

 

Well the first one is just a quotation of Governor Snyder’s deceitful and distraction oriented word salad. Here is another similar response from Governor Snyder before we start analyzing his diatribe:

 

“We are focused on ensuring that as many children are adopted to as many loving families as possible regardless of their makeup.”

 

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Essentially what he is saying is that since the number of children adopted every year is going up (85% in 2014 up from 70% in 2011) the state of Michigan can justify the religiously bigoted beliefs of certain organizations even if it results in 13,000 leftover children who live yet another year as wards of the state.

 

My argument for this always reverts back to the civil rights movements of the 60’s and simply replaces the couple requesting the adoption of an eager, desperate, and loving child from a homosexual couple to a black couple. Religious justifications were then and are still used for the discrimination of African American i.e. black people all over the world including the US. This new law would allow, hypothetically speaking of course, the new Ken Ham Creation Adoption Center to refuse in allowing a black male and female couple (cursed with the mark of Cain or Ham) to adopt a new baby as long as they gave a list of other adoption centers they could try or give them the state index resource list. I would like even FOX news to try to justify that over the round of racist applause from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (note to self stay out of Wyoming).
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Are Believers the Most Arrogant Atheists?

© Religion Erased

Atheism. The disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. There are plenty to choose from and with insufficient evidence, plenty to disprove. So how does one go about doing so? Well, wait until a religion presents credible evidence. One that actually stands out from the ordinary.

 

It makes sense. Instead of doing the impossible and spending a lifetime analysing the seemingly endless line of false prophets, wait for one to impress you.

 

That is what the religious community decides to do. If you ask a Christian what it would take to convert to Islam, the answer will be solid evidence. Meeting Allah face to face. Something that us utterly irrefutable and can no longer cast any shadow of doubt.

 

I share this stance.

 

If I tell a Muslim I am not a Muslim, I am labeled an atheist, whereas if I told a Christian that I’m not a Muslim, I’m simply not a Muslim. Why is that? Why the two perceptions?
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Young Earth Creationism and the Ultimate Question Concerning “Number 2”

In the course of a recent exchange with a Young-Earth Creationist, I was accused of dodging what my interlocutor imagined to be “the hard questions,” all of which were pretty much on the level of Bill O’Reilly’s “OK, smart guy, how’d the moon get there?” His rapid-fire questions basically took the form, “If there’s no God, why do we see something instead of nothing?” They boiled down to the ontological difficulties concerning the origin of the universe and the origin of life, both of which (of course!) he imagined to be inadequately addressed by “evolution.” No surprises there, right?

 

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard those objections raised by some close-minded troglodyte who had no intention of paying any attention whatsoever to any answer that involved more syllables than “God did it,” I’d be a very wealthy man by now. As any honest person recognizes, there’s still a lot to learn about the origin of the universe and of life. There’s still a lot to learn about evolution, for that matter, which is why the relatively new science of EvoDevo is so exciting: it’s starting to furnish some answers to some longstanding puzzles. But it will inevitably raise other questions, a prospect that is troubling only to a person with no native curiosity and a deep-seated need for “the sure thing.”

 

I think maybe it’s time to turn the tables on people who raise what they imagine to be unanswerable questions (and who, in raising them, show no sign of actually being interested in answers, but raise them rhetorically, as a “gotcha” device). My motive in doing this is to try to get Christian fundamentalists to see just how ridiculous their “questions” are. Let me counter with a few nagging theological questions. Let’s see if I can get some straight answers from fundamentalist Christians, who seem to be so damn sure that their “holy book” has all the answers we need to all the questions that are worth asking. Turns out, the Blessed Old Leather-Bound Bible leaves quite a few things unexplained.

 

Let’s start with the matter of feces. Does God’s Word really tell us all we need to know about that?
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