Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The virtues of prayer

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Here is a nice video to explain the virtues of praying....and I respond to some of the feedback after.

It is interesting to read some of the comments after the which I will respond:
"Not believing in something (i.e. No god) does not constitute a "belief system", for the same reason that "not fishing" is not a hobby".
Just as believing in a non-existing god is not really believing in anything either. Faith = non reason, altruism = non-self. Religion defiles your nature. Why? No reason. So having reasons for not believing is more of a system than faith, but I agree with your premise that atheists should have a full value system....but whose to say they don't. They are merely staying on topic.
"The notion that religion causes wars because they "KNOW" that they have "the one and only absolute truth".
There is nothing wrong with being certain of your ideas, or 'absolutes' as such. The problem is that religious absolutes are not based on evidence, but rather biblical assertions which cannot be verified to any satisfactory degree. I might add that objective truth is absolute, however it is 'contextual' absolutism.
"You need to realize that man cannot explain everything and in light of the fact that we are all ignorant to some degree or another some of us like yourself need to get off our supposed intellectual high horses and show just a bit of humility".
This is a weak argument. Humanity not being able to explain everything is not the same as not being able to explain everything. Context is everything. You have core knowledge, and you have peripheral knowledge. You can trust that which integrates and corresponds to facts. You can have still more confidence if you are a critical thinker with a propensity to seek and investigate alternative scenarios. I might repudiate the idea that humility is good by highlighting his 'apparent' absence of it. How can a humble person proclaim another people arrogant for having an opinion, which they 'humbly' repudiate.
"Well,as long as you can hate Christianity without hating Christians like Christians hate sin without hating sinners like yourself we should be able to get along. Well,at least not beat the tar out of each other".
Hate? Dislike? Sadly opposing values can make a big difference to our lives. Christianity and other forms of subjectivism are indirectly related to a great deal of collectivist political imposition and coercion, which ultimately destroy lives. That is just the 'political manifestations. Religion destroys lies, whether its the self-righteous parent who invalidates their their child; or the abusive parent who destroys their self-esteem with dogmatic nonsense; or worse sexual abuse. There are people who've been raised with unrealistic fears because of biblical teachings. More problematic and generally, there is the diminished capacity to think logically and critically, well-represented by Christians who cannot respond to logical arguments. The implication is that they are predisposed to repression and evasion.
"Christians go to the same schools that you go to yet you accuse them of being ignorant. They are not ignorant. They just do not accept the things you accept as being true. They choose not to believe some things just as you choose not to believe some things. What we believe is based on what we have experienced and what we have experienced you have not experienced. No one can be expected to throw out their experiences even in the face of your supposed logic. That would be illogical".
Logical argument? Case in point. Comparative ignorance is not simply a matter of school selection. Personal application and even parenting are critical, and there are a great many factors. If Christians have had a personal experience which justifies God, then they have less virtue because they have evidence, so less faith required to believe. Don't try finding logic in this nonsense. This assertion is a repudiation of objectivity. Christians can explain their experience, and they are open to account for that experience if they want to be taken seriously. One need only look at the quality of the Christian thinking to repudiate the philosophy. I might also add that a great many of you are not Christians but nevertheless suffer from a related 'subjective' fallacy, whether some form of moral relativism, scepticism or collectivism, or even liberalism. The only defensible philosophy is objectivism. It is the only one with a valid theory of values. I'll prove the point too. Email me for a debate!
"I am pretty sure small children have been murdered at the hands of atheists,agnostics,and religious folks".
True enough, Christians don't have a monopoly on immorality. Yes...immorality. Christianity is an immoral philosophy. A philosophy is a value system which ought to serve the life of the subject. The idea that people ought to find salvation in renouncing their nature is nonsense. i.e. Faith instead of reason. Faith is acceptance without the opposite of logic. Someone in ancient times was really trying to screw with their subjects to teach them this nonsense.
Other types of subjectivism like socialism, fascism or environmentalism, or animal welfarists are equally immoral as they place others, even animals and the environment before humans. They also support placing some humans above the interests of others. They are a repudiation of objectivity and logic.....just like religion. They are just as bad as religion. Indefensible. If you want to defend subjectivity, simply walk in front of a bus...conflict resolved.
"It is a good thing that all who identify themselves as Christians are not the same then,isn't it? It is a good thing that the religious right is only a wing and not the whole bird,so to speak".
Christians vary in the extent to which they accept religion, and how they accept it. I have had Christians email me, thanking me for helping them resolve their attitudes to religion. They, like me, only needed a logical argument to drop religion like a sack of potatoes. Others tend to have less respect for ideas because they were not raised with it. I was raised with a great deal of respect for science, so it was an easy refutation when the arguments were presented. It was literary a 'day conversion'.
It is sad that libertarianism is supported by anarchists and Christians. They offer no plausible justification for freedom. Why? Anarchism is based on subjectivism. Religion advances altruism. Capitalism is based on an ethics of rational self-interest. They are incompatible. This argument greatly upset my grandfather 2 decades ago.
Andrew Sheldon

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Blessed is the honest bishop

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Here is an interesting article by a bishop in the Huffington Post about the churches role in inciting hatred of gays, lesbians and the like. It is a rather candid article coming from the church.
When a religious leader is so progressive, you have to wonder whether he retains any religious conviction. Clearly he retains a great deal of intellect...but only by driving his conflict to a deeper moral fundamental realm. Christians are morally obliged to throw themselves under a bus to protect others from prejudice. He neglects to understand that such collectivism is the source of this prejudice in the first place. He is therefore not a champion of moral rectitude but moral ambivalence. But bless the church for engaging and compromising its integrity yet again. It might well culminate in another church to defend or react to the indefensible. But there is plenty of moral scepticism out there, so I'm sure this bishop will find a market.
I am hoping to drive a 'Greek-inspired' revival of rational self-interest. These Christian apologists however keep 'doggedly' or 'dogmatically' clinging to their 'altruist' beliefs contrary to all the bleating evidence. Oh well....another century before the next intellectual revolution. I think we will have to wait until the next century before we can download a code of ethics into people, such that they will no longer quibble over 'what their bleating minds are for'.
Andrew Sheldon

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gold medal for Australian Catholic Church

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According to the NZ Herald, the Catholic Church has taken upon itself to recognise Mother Mary MacKillop as a saint...Australia’s first. I’m not impressed. The basis for this honour is:
1. She lived a life of integrity
2. She performed miracles
I would suggest she did no such thing. You can’t give without receiving....unless one of her miracles was to conjure up piles of money to perform her feats on this earth. I trust not. She more probably conveyed the biblical message and was able to raise money in order to do what she did. My guess it would not have been to hard to raise money in that time because Australia was having a commodities boom. According to the Christian standard, her work was only possible with the help of a lot of ‘materialistic’ people, who gave surpluses to her so that she did not need one.
Now of course....if not for the generosity or ‘guilted’ altruism of others, who is to know what would become of her? Would she be one of the more desperate flock rather than a leader of people? But saints are not necessarily leaders by the standards indicated.
The other aspect of this honour is that she ‘saved’ lives with some ‘miracles’. Of course there is no way of verifying that she had any such capacity....but the fact that someone who dealt with such desperate people could only find two souls to save suggests to be that she really had no skill at all, and it was merely a distortion, or someone’s overactive imagination. Self-delusion to be sure.
There is of course a great deal of political strategy in this announcement. There can be no better way of promoting Catholicism than by anointing a new saint. Why? Well there are two reasons:
1. Religion looks ever more relevant if you can point to some modern day miracle to support your rationalisation. Of course there are miracles being performed in India every day among the uneducated.
2. Religion needs to sanctify the life of pastors in order to attract more members, and also to reward the best performers. That is simply good business....and we need to remember ‘blind faith’ is a hard sell....yet its the more virtuous...but hell you have to give the pastors something to hope for don’t you. It can’t be all faith can it?
3. A miracle 100 years ago would appear to be 'modern enough' to be in the scientific era, but not so modern that anyone is going to dig up a scandal about Mary....or disprove her mythical miracle. Of course Mother Theresa did not look so positive for this reason. She was considered a control freak by some. Isn't that unsaintly? Certainly not humbling. Well, one flaw. Any miracles?
Andrew Sheldon
Attention all atheists!!
In fact anyone who has had an interesting encounter with a Christian which involved manipulation, deception or blatant rationalisation. This is research or material for a forthcoming book. I am not suggesting that all Christians are criminals, dangerous or threats to society, but I am suggesting that Christianity is a basis for moral inefficacy. There is a reason why Christian nations are always at war. There is a reason why former Christians (or children of Christians) have a tendency to drift into cults and extreme religious groups. Thank you for any life experiences you can recall. ----------------------------------------------- Andrew Sheldon