Brrr! (2015Jan09)


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Friday, January 09, 2015                        1:42 PM

So ends the first work-week of 2015. Not that I’m employed, but I follow along. It’s cold—everywhere. Whatever happened to Florida or California (or Syria, for that matter) being warm in winter? It’s even colder, psychologically speaking, in Paris right now—attacks on freedom of speech and violent anti-Semitism makes it hard to feel the warmth of humanity.

An Islamic apologist makes the point that Muslims act differently in different countries, that, for instance, female genital mutilation is practiced in Christian countries, too, and that it is a characteristic of African countries, not Muslim ones. And it occurs to me that Islam predominates in the under-developed world, where ‘Christianity-lite’ or outright Agnosticism predominates in the developed world. A case could be made for poverty, ignorance, and lack of good government being the true source of most terrorism—but that only means the Muslims should be the most pro-active in distancing Islam from these bad actors.

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However, the unhappy truth is that large numbers of Muslims applaud the attacks on modern civilization, i.e. the Great Satan, America, and its allies, and like-minded countries. And is America innocent?—of course not. Some of the activities of our government make me ashamed to call myself an American—but no country is perfect, and America has a great deal to be proud of. More importantly, America has the ability to recognize its own mistakes, and to change. Considering our place in the world, I think it’s obvious that working out our problems is preferable to burning the place down and beheading everybody.

But my personal problem is that I’m against religion of any kind. How tempting it is to hold up these terrorists as an example of how dangerous and ignorant religion is. The suppression of women, the persecution of gays, and other religion-based ignorance, is nearly as common in the developed world as it is in the rest of the planet. But violence is common to fundamentalists and atheists alike—and the raising of children to be adults capable of cold-blooded murder is the real problem. Religion is just the nail some of us hang it on.

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Ending poverty and illiteracy would do more to eliminate violence than any other action we could take. Warring against religions because of their specific violence can only make more violence. I saw a hopeful slogan today on a Humanists Facebook post, “Humanity before Creed”. I like it, but in our present environment, I anticipate that theists will take exception.

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Warning Signs (2015Jan08)


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Thursday, January 08, 2015                             3:31 PM

Madness is a part of life. We are all mad, to some extent. But the only time we call someone ‘mad’ in earnest and lock them up is when a person manifests a danger to themselves or others—and even this is not entirely the case, if you consider the dangers represented by certain politicians and businesspeople, not to mention gang-members and organized criminals. Even the slip-shod mechanic who neglects to tighten the bolts on your new tires is, to some degree, a public danger.

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So most of us are let loose upon the public, willy-nilly—hell, I could even run for elected office, if I wanted, and possibly become responsible for a whole town or county—talk about madness. But my unsuitability would stem from incompetence. The majority of elected officials are unsuitable for far darker reasons—reasons having to do with human nature, and with the connection between wanting to be ‘in charge’ and the type of person that wants that.

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But a touch of Napoleon Complex isn’t the end of the world. Outside of elected offices, we deal with such people all the time—they are often behind a counter, or teaching a class, or patrolling the neighborhood. Martinets are a fact of life. Having a touch of the compulsive, myself, I’m tempted to give them a pass.

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Then there are people who don’t care for children or animals—but even that is understandable. As both a parent and a pet-owner, I’ve experienced occasional annoyance at both kids and pets—so I can easily see where someone with a short fuse might well have difficulty appreciating the little darlings.

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So let’s agree that people can have a multitude of perhaps disagreeable inclinations or personality quirks and still merit the label ‘sane’. However, I occasionally run across a person who sends a chill down my spine—a person in whom I fail to detect a minimum level of what I would call humanity. These are people who slip through the cracks, using the variable standards we must have for personalities as cover for attitudes that are beyond the pale. I’m sure you’ve met them, too—the surprise white supremacist, the callous misogynist, the over-the-top fundamentalist—people who shock us with the nightmarish implications of their casual comments—people who, given responsibility for any group or organization, will make of that group a hell on earth—or use that group to spread hatred and violence.

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There are some warning signs. Today, a friend of mine shared the following quote on Facebook: “François Rabelais invented a number of neologisms that have since entered the French and other languages, but one of his words has been forgotten, and this is regrettable. It is the word agélaste; it comes from the Greek and it means a man who does not laugh, who has no sense of humour. Rabelais detested the agélastes. He feared them. He complained that the agélastes treated him so atrociously that he nearly stopped writing forever.”  — Milan Kundera

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Thus we have warning sign number one: no sense of humor. Don’t misunderstand—these people will laugh—everybody laughs—but they are only amused by the slapstick of human tragedy. Perhaps ‘wit’ is a fitter word for what they lack—one can imagine that ‘a sense of humor’ is an aspect of intelligence, the mechanism by which we recognize unpalatable truths, even about ourselves. People who lack a sense of humor will be generally constipated, emotionally—they won’t dance or play games, and they’ll be squeamish about intimacy. Somehow, they don’t stop at merely lacking this form of insight—they’ll usually react against it in others—which is what makes this a top warning sign for ‘inhuman humans’.

The second warning sign is expressed in one of my favorite quotes from the Bard:

“The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,

Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;

The motions of his spirit are dull as night,

And his affections dark as Erebus:

Let no such man be trusted.

—Mark the music.”

— Wllm. Shakespeare “The Merchant of Venice” Scene V, Act I

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One sees this aspect in very few people—music appreciation is pretty basic, as human attributes go—which makes it all the more chilling in the few that truly feel no response to the temptations of music. Unlike those with no sense of humor, the unmusical don’t really manifest their failing in any practical way—it is simply an indication that some basic connection to the rest of humankind is missing from a person’s psyche.

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Unfortunately, the third warning sign is one we see the most of—blood-thirsty fundamentalism. Most of us recognize that our spiritual lives are, at their core, personal journeys, interior workings-through of what our lives mean to each of us. The fundamentalist wants to put these spiritual workings-through on a worldly stage, making a life-and-death chess-match out of something they haven’t the subtlety to recognize as a personal struggle. They suffer no cognitive dissonance due to the joining of something as ethereal as faith with something as cold and concrete as murder.

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Here’s an example from today’s discussion of the murder of cartoonists in Paris. In a USA Today article, this unbelievable cretin, Anjem Choudary, wrote, “So why in this case did the French government allow the magazine Charlie Hebdo to continue to provoke Muslims, thereby placing the sanctity of its citizens at risk? It is time that the sanctity of a Prophet revered by up to one-quarter of the world’s population was protected.

This scum is suggesting that the murder was bound to be committed by some devout Muslim, sooner or later—and that the real problem is that the cartoonists’ work should have been against the law. And he has the lady-balls to suggest that such legislation, now, is the correct response to this tragedy. Why do wackos like him get their idiocy printed up in a national newspaper? Has the sensationalizing of journalism made newspapers champions of the ignorant and amoral? Do I have to ask?

Now you know how to spot evil people. No music, no laughter, or a tendency to confuse sanctity with sociopathic behavior. These are their ‘tells’—run if you see them.

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On Whose Authority? (2015Jan07)


I was frustrated by the senseless violence in Paris today, as can be seen by the essay below. But, just to lighten things up a bit, here’s an improv, too….

 

“At Least 11 Killed in Shooting Attack on Paris Newspaper”

– The New York Times

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015                        11:05 AM

On Whose Authority?

In France today an editor and many contributing cartoonists of a satirical magazine were the target of Muslim extremists with AK-47s. Their offices had been bombed by the same people in 2011. These French terrorists have also been increasingly violent towards Jewish communities in the area. One is tempted to wonder what it is about Islam that makes it such a tempting badge for psychopathic, cold-blooded murderers? But one must remember that such behavior is just under the surface of Christianity and Judaism, as well. All three major faiths are really just variations on Western Monotheism, i.e the Judeo-Christian-Muslim heritage of Western Civilization. Between the Crusades and other Holy Wars, the Inquisitions, the Wars of the Reformation, the Nazi’s ‘Final Solution’, and the burning of ‘witches’, there is an ugly history of religion-based bloodshed, war, and genocide. The modern ‘Muslim’ terrorist is just the latest in a long line.

These wretches are not terrorists who become Muslims—they are Muslims who are weaponized by the Imams who lead their sects. Like all religious killers, they are authorized (and, to varying degrees, directed) by their leaders. Their targets are likewise based on threats to Authority—which puts cartoonists at the top of their hit list. Being laughed at has always maddened the puffed-up egos that dare to claim they speak for God. ‘Sharia Law’ is another example—the opposite of ‘separation of church and state’, Sharia Law states that no earthly authority can supersede the words of the Imam—as if some jerk in a kaftan is more in tune with the wishes of the Universe than any cop or judge or legislator.

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We are no better. Our ongoing struggle against gay rights, and against the self-determination of women, shows the same tendency to ignore common sense in the face of Authority. Anyone with any sense can see that being gay is not a choice—the only choice gay people have is whether or not to be honest about themselves in public. And any man who believes he has more insight into pregnancy than a woman is an idiot. Only blind adherence to comforting Authority allows such hateful stupidity to persist. Otherwise, these Christian conservatives would use their heads and their hearts to understand and embrace the rights and freedoms of others.

We wonder how the Republicans, who seem to have it in for the human race, could have won both houses in last year’s election, when they are so dysfunctional, so corrupt, and so ignorant. But that question answers itself—the more ignorant and capricious a leader is, the stronger their authority seems. The Democrats offer benign leadership, while the GOP has a tendency to tell us to shut up and do what we’re told—of course we vote for the assholes—they’re the strongest-seeming leaders. More importantly, they absolve us from the responsibility of thinking for ourselves. Freedom is frightening—a true American lives on the knife-edge of responsibility. Like Spiderman, he or she cannot have the enormous power of freedom without accepting the enormous burden of responsibility.

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Unfortunately, such responsibility requires education, engagement, and civic awareness—and not everybody lucky enough to be born here is capable of upholding these standards. We now have a population wherein those who cry most loudly about “The American Way” are the same people who flee from any of the difficulties inherent in maintaining our standing as a bastion of freedom. Plus, there are a vast number of us who confuse American with Wealthy—people for whom money is the greatness on which we are founded. They forget (or never knew) that America’s emergence as a land of wealth was a consequence of our freedoms, not their source. But let’s stay on track for now.

For years I have avoided criticism of Christianity in deference to my friends who take solace and meaning from it, who raise their children by it, and who find in religion a way of life. After all, there is much good to be found in faith, particularly in the teachings of Jesus. But the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition of Faith is also an unflinching supporter of Authority. And because Faith eschews Facts, religious authorities can justify, rationalize, and perpetrate any crime, any violence. “In the name of God” becomes synonymous with “Because I said so”.

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If we look back into history, we see that monarchs operated on the same basis. Monarchies were a working system—so they could say, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” When more-enlightened rulers sat on thrones, they could take credit for the good works they did—and when despots made things worse, they could kill any critics. Religion, likewise, is a very good thing when it is used for good by good people—and unassailable when it causes evil. Their similarities are due to the similarity in Authority. Whenever people in charge are left to their own justifications, we get pot-luck—good things from the rare, good leaders, and evil from the far more numerous, perverted ones. In that sense, religion is as obsolete and corrupt as monarchy.

So how do we take the good things from religion and eliminate the bad? Can we believe in a beneficent creator, an afterlife, and purposeful living, without believing in priests, imams, and preachers? That depends. If our intention is to look behind the veil of existence to find meaning, then it is possible. But I fear that for most people, religion is a security blanket to protect us from the cold, practical reality of the infinite universe—their search is for safety, not meaning. In that fear for their safety, they surrender themselves to any Authority that pretends the universe is on their side, no matter how messed up and violent the practices of that religion.

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The temptation to invoke religious authority is so strong that it may be impossible to have religion without it—it is certainly impossible with the old religions we now have, ancient faiths with their roots deep in our authoritarian past. Our founding fathers’ concerns over religion were based on their perception of Religion being, like the English king, a source of empty, non-representative, and divisive Authority. Much as I would like to overlook the failings of religion for the sake of those for whom it is a positive, it’s threat to our modern civilization, as indicated by today’s attack, makes that an irresponsible weakness on my part.

However, my feelings for or against are beside the point. The world we live in is suffused with religion, and with religious authority. The fact that they’ll kill anyone who laughs at them means that we must take every opportunity to hold them up to ridicule. The fact that they are incapable of laughing at themselves makes them dangerously narcissistic—not to mention lacking a sense of humor, which makes them ugly, stupid people, in my opinion.

Eastern philosophies see Good and Evil as counterparts, as a balancing of opposites to form the whole of existence. Our Western-influenced insistence that we increase the Good and try to eliminate the Evil shows a total lack of understanding of human nature. Even more ignorant is our predilection to give Authority to one who is presumed to represent Good, one who is devoid of Evil—there is no such person. The fact that, as a society, we are unable to learn this basic truth renders this entire essay a waste of time. But I don’t mind—it gives me something to do while I try not to think about the savage, animal bloodshed that is the hallmark of all true believers.

Oh, Come On, All Ye Faithful


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The world is full of sad, suffering, bitter, frightened people—so much so that there are even those who have been ‘broken’. We once had an unspoken agreement in our society that anyone who was obviously psychotic or deeply stupid would be nudged away from any responsible role in civics or business. Not that we didn’t like them—just that we could see their behavior as problematic in any ‘position of authority’, where the broken may not see such a problem within themselves. I guess Bush, Jr. put an end to that tradition—if not his election then, certainly, his re-election—and now the floodgates of ‘stupid and mean’ have opened wide.

Additionally, we now have evangelical politicians (that used to be an oxymoron in this country) who disregard all the serious people who, for generations, kept their religion on simmer—just to avoid that all-too-easily-approached position wherein a person may choose their faith’s dogma over common sense. Not to mention this unspoken Neo-Con campaign to change America from the ‘land of religious freedom’ to the ‘land of Christian theocracy’. And how the public figures dance around this issue, being coy and arch and never coming out and saying the thing they truly believe—because they know the real world will take their bald admission of their loyalty to the church and hold it up as the childish bedtime story it really is.

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Admittedly, this issue is skewed, publicly, due to the fact that morons will shout their stupidity to the mountain-tops, but reasonable people of faith will allow for the give and take of scientific reality and mathematical truth and, more importantly, are too busy leading productive lives to make nearly as much hullabaloo as the extremists they far outnumber. But it remains a major point of cognitive dissonance in politics. While science professors in top colleges would not be reluctant to admit they’re Atheists, politicians must still keep to the establishmentarian position of ‘morals by religion’ and no other avenue of ‘understanding good and evil’.

The evangi-lantees  (you like that? I just made it up.) take advantage of this virtual strait-jacket whenever they imply that ‘godlessness’ is synonymous with ‘evil’. Most of my friends and acquaintances would scruple (I certainly hope) at describing me as Evil. Yet the holy-rolling, bible-thumper set would have me, an Atheist, be seen as a threat to my country, my community, and my family. No national candidate for high office has as yet proclaimed their atheism (not to my knowledge, anyway) yet the greatest horrors of our times—9/11, genocide, warring and bloody revolutions in the Mid-East—all these violent upheavals were perpetrated by certain people claiming religious motives or religious authority for their behavior.

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Shouldn’t the Atheists be preferred as being more objective about religious dogmas and the different cultures and life-styles of different religious groups? If we only accept some sort of Christianity in our political candidates, aren’t we enabling the evangelicals’ “Freedom of Belief as Long as its Christian” agenda. Why should we accept different views in our teachers and scientists than the views we expect from politicians? It’s a conundrum. Here’s another: Why don’t Europeans see this happening in their countries? Why is the USA the only country that sees the rise of evangelism and pseudo-Christian extremism? Is it because they’d already gotten over their Reformation by shipping all the crazies over here?

The fundamental divide between Atheists and Christians (or Theists in general) is in our ‘reality’s. True believers live in a reality where God is real. Atheists live in a reality that excludes specific faiths and precise dogmas—we see civilization as the progress (or evolution, if you will) of humanity from ignorance to enlightenment. We see the churches of today as vestiges of a time when the world had no better solution to the riddle of existence than myths. We see the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition as a movement from very primitive, multi-divinity traditions into a monotheistic paradigm. This gives us a perspective in which today’s major faiths are only different from Greek Mythology in that there are still people that take their ‘myths’ seriously.

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This accounts for the accusations of rudeness, crudeness, and anti-social tendencies that Christians will often make against Atheism. They think we are insulting an actual ‘being’. And we Atheists are trying to find a way to tell adults, “there is no Santy Claus” without being condescending—or going crazy ‘banging our heads against a wall’.

This is where the idea of religious freedom breaks down—two types of adults can try to discuss their differences, but in this case we are attempting to discuss our different underpinnings of our respective realities. Truly, it is easier for Muslims and Christians to discuss their differences than it is for either of them to debate Atheists. It’s kind of funny, in a way—if I told a Christian I didn’t believe in Islam, there wouldn’t be a problem; if I told a Muslim I didn’t believe in Christianity, again, no problem. There is an Atheist joke that points out how theists disbelieve in every other religion except their own, so Atheists are just off by one more religion. Funny, but true.

It doesn’t help that ‘enforced Atheism’ was a property of the old ‘Commies’ during the Cold War—the idea that people could be arrested because of their religious practices is the opposite of religious freedom. It was one of our main points of ‘superiority’ over the ‘Iron Curtain’ countries—in the Free World, we had no limits on religiosity. It seems ironic, now, what with Islam becoming a ‘suspect’ religious group—and not just for their being blamed for the fundamentalist extremists who flew the jetliners into the two towers, but also for their apparent misogyny and their concept of sharia law (pretty much the opposite of ‘separation of church and state’.)

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As always, the differences between theist and atheist are aggravated by the polymorphism of language. Fundamentalism, Extremism, Zealotry—words that once meant ‘deeply religious’ have been transformed by Terrorism into buzz-words denoting ‘random, delusional violence’. By the extremists’ insistence on hardline dogmatism, they make life difficult for the average believer in more ways than one. Being co-opted into implicit guilt of terrorist attacks is one way. Having their beliefs extended to the furthest extreme by the fundamentalists, thus highlighting the cognitive dissonance of any faith in the modern world, is another difficulty—in that it makes the majority of a faith’s believers begin to question their choice of outlook. In other words, terrorism (never a sane approach, for whatever objective, in the first place) may have the effect of driving away the majority of a faith’s more moderate and nominal adherents. Where the churches once created communities and connections, they are now in danger of being recognized as sources of conflict.

Atheists have their own problems—in my case, it is my reluctance to change my ethics to be in line with my discarding Catholicism. I’ve been consistently troubled by this issue for most of my life—if religion is false, what are the reasons for social behavior? I’ve always preferred to be a polite person, kind and sympathetic—and I hope that I have, by and large, been so—and I also know that, at times, I have not been what I hoped. But having given up any hope of taking any religion seriously ever again, I have never been changed in my feeling of the rightness in being the best person one can be.

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But, without any explanation or evidence, I have no formulation of logic that leads to my behavior—in the Atheist’s existence, there is no true rationale for anything, for being nice, for being helpful or having any care for others, not even for staying alive. And the closest I’ve come so far is this: There is no reason for anything, but there is likewise no reason not to care for anything. It’s not much, but I’ve used it for a long time and, frankly, I’m afraid it may be the only ‘answer’ to that particular issue. In other words, for me, ‘meaning’ is a subjective thing—but no less integral to happiness, and no more changeable than another’s faith, regardless of being my ‘choice’.

At ten years old, I announced my conviction that, having thought it all over, this God business was a crock. In my teen years, I tried out several other churches services in search of a believable faith—the Bahá’í seemed the closest—Quakerism was also pretty sensible, as was Unitarianism. These other faiths appeared to be far more humane than my childhood faith, but none could offer anything more sensible than Catholicism, in terms of logic and reason. In almost all cases, another religion would be far less silly than Catholicism—but that didn’t change the core concepts—unknowable being, constant surveillance from cradle to grave, life after death, souls—all the things that in a different context would be called ‘paranormal’, perhaps even ‘delirium’. In other words, if I had been shopping for a better religion, there were several contenders. But I was looking for a religion that was true—like science is true.

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Thus I became an agnostic, still willing to entertain new evidence and different perspectives. But then I ran across the archeology of religion. I learned that modern-day faiths were evolved from earlier forms, not set in stone from day one. I learned that many religious holidays were superimposed on dates that were held sacred by pagans prior to the intrusion of monotheism.

I learned that witch hunts and burning people at the stake were as much part of the destruction of the older faiths’ perspective as they were a ‘Jihad against Satanists’. Witches were revered matriarchs in Pagan culture—they were experts in medical lore, botany, midwifery, and other important contributions to their communities. They were living demonstrations of a Goodness unconnected with the churches—and they were far more effective and successful than the newer, so-called Doctors. That made them unbearable members of society in the eyes of both the new leaders and the professionals of this new, Christian ‘way of things’.

Fraser’s “Golden Bough” was a ground-breaking book published at the turn of the last century. It cataloged the many threads that wound through civilization’s history, connecting our present day beliefs to traditions begun by far more primitive belief-systems. It is basically impossible to read that book and still take modern religious rituals as seriously as when one assumed one’s religion was ‘made from whole cloth’.

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Most troubling of all is that the book was archeological in nature—it didn’t defend or attack any specific faith. Fraser diligently searched out carvings, scrolls, parchments, temples, and historical documentation for what would become his conclusions. Worse yet, it wasn’t long afterwards that the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered—an Archive of older versions of today’s Bible, displaying far-ranging variations on what was previously ‘known’ to be a single, full compendium of Christianity—the New Testament.

We may not see the excitement-factor in such musty scholarship, but to the Vatican these scrolls were a potential death-blow. They sprang into action, acquiring the majority of the ‘treasure’ and spending years in so-called translation of these bomb-shell documents. Eventually, serious people started getting impatient with this suppression of such important historical material, and the scrolls were released to public study. A library found at the Nag Hammadi (Nag Hammadi Scriptures and the Gnostic Gospels) added its own confusion to the pile-up—including one very surprising “Gospel of Mary Magdalene”!

So, maybe it’s just me but, after many years of digging to get to a truth of my own, I felt I had found it—religion was evolved from our earliest, most primitive thought-processes—our fear of death, our preference for an ordered life-style, and our curiosity about the big ‘Why’s—Why does the universe exist?; Why are we here?; Why do we live, only to die? The worship of the Sun, of nature, of animals, of father-figures in the sky—all these things were part of how human ratiocination operates. They seem natural and real, because they are the natural result of our thought-processes.

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And I had seen my own changes—as a boy, we Catholics were forbidden to eat meat on Fridays; Catholic priests celebrated the Mass in Latin; and the congregation remained silent throughout. By my tween years, the ‘no meat on Friday’ strictures were dropped—(a real blow to seafood restaurants); the Mass was performed in English; and we were suddenly being taught how to do antiphony—the ‘call and response’ portions of the Mass. It takes some strong faith, in God as well as in oneself, to make alterations to the rituals of one’s faith. To a youngster like myself, it seemed little different than saying all my study of the Catechism was just a joke. “We’re changing things around—we may change again—nothing is set in stone.”—that’s what I took away from the experience. And what is the good of belief if it isn’t set in stone? I asked myself—belief should have the same permanence as arithmetic.

That’s me all over—I took Catholicism too seriously as a kid, then I took their changes too seriously, then I took science too seriously. I have found, in my older, more recent years, that everything has a ‘balance’ to it—taking something too seriously has the effect of creating an ‘imbalance’. So I try to take things less seriously now—but it is my nature to be demanding, compulsive, and fussy, so I have little success in my attempts at sensibility.

I admit my life is worse for not having joined a faith—much of society is oriented around religion. But how lucky I was to be born in a time and place where my lack of faith wasn’t a death sentence. Society wasn’t always merely oriented around religion; it has been for most of our history as accepted-as-fact as arithmetic was—indeed, if there were to be a lack of agreement between arithmetic and the church, it would have been the arithmetic that would have been ignored.Image

The acceptance of Science as our baseline reality is a surprisingly recent change in civilization—so recent that many parts of the world still live their lives in thrall to dogmas, rituals, and mysticism. That their society and their religion are inseparable presents a problem when these far-off lands are negotiating with the developed countries—once again, the very foundations of their realities differ so much that points of contact are elusive and mercurial. And the many people in the developed world who retain their families’ faiths, but take them with a grain of salt, so to speak, are as repugnant to the true believers as Atheists like me.

In some ways, I side with the zealots on this issue—if I did truly believe in my religious precepts, I wouldn’t half-ass around about it, either. I have always had great respect for the Shakers—they believed that, if original sin was a sin, then they would never commit that sin. They lived in celibacy—the only new members of the Shaker faith were orphans and runaways adopted by the Shaker community. Still, there came a time when they were all gone—they had obeyed their God by never having children—now, that’s faith, bub! They had their own Rapture, by sheer commitment to their faith. We who remain on Earth today could well be waiting for a Second Coming that already came and went.

So, I can take the high ground here if you all are the type of church-folk who skip services during football season, or cheat on your taxes, or cheat at cards, whatever… And the rest of you—keep the faith, baby! (If that’s your thing.)

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