zanelle

zanelle
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Alpine, California, United States
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December 07
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I am here in cyberspace trying to understand the true nature of reality. My artwork can be seen in the blog link below. http://suzannesmith0.wix.com/stucco-by-zanelle#!home/mainPage

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APRIL 10, 2012 7:36AM

Richard Dawkins Made Me Think

Rate: 18 Flag

  I have been intrigued with the Secular Movement since I saw this sign from the freeway put up by the San Diego chapter of the Coalition for Reason.

   billboard_San_Diego_CoR_hi-res_2_tx700 

  The organizations that supported the Richard Dawkins lecture were:

                     San Diego Coalition of Reason
Humanist Fellowship of San Diego
Rational Thought at UCSD
Secular Student Alliance at SDSU
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Kahal Am – Humanist Jewish Community of San Diego
San Diego New Atheists and Agnostics
San Diego Association of Rational Inquiry
Secular Families of North County
Camp Quest West

 

   I zoomed into the depth of downtown and saw the picket lines right away.  One said, " Richard Dawkins is the Jerry Springer of Athiests."  The other one I saw said,"You mean all this came from Nothing?"  There were lots of people milling around but no loud arguments.  However the atmosphere was charged.  Dawkins addresses many subjects that are controversial such as taking religion out of government;  abortion and euthanasia as a right,  eugenics as intelligent design and an unwillingness to debate Creationists.  He will be meeting with Religious leaders for debate but just doesn't have time and patience for the nuts.

     dawkins

   There was a ten dollar charge to get in but some fellow offered me his ticket for fifty cents and I took it.  I sat next to a man who talked to me about his life.  We both had fathers who taught us to THINK.  I got tears in my eyes remembering my smart daddy who played games with my brain and encouraged me to be an independent thinker.  Thanks Dad.

      Dawkins2

    The Golden Hall filled up and overflowed which was nice to see.  I felt I belonged and I haven't had that feeling very often in my life.   There were mostly younger people there and lots of couples.  The John Lennon song "Imagine" was playing as we waited for the first speaker and I always get chills listening to that song.  There were silly sayings and cartoons projected on the screen too.

                       Dawkins4

   The first speaker had long blonde hair and a lovely voice.  She told of the rally for Secularism in Government in Washington DC with 30,000 people in the rain.  Her organization is the Out Campaign.   

  • Reach out and talk to others about atheism and help spread a positive view of atheism
  • Speak out about their own beliefs and values without feeling intimidated, thus helping people realize that atheists don't fit stereotypes and are a very diverse group
  • Keep out, meaning to promote the idea that religion should be kept out of public schools and government, and that nobody's religious agenda should be allowed to intimidate
  • Stand out and become visible in their communities and become involved.

  The second speaker was a lawyer and politician but we were encouraged not to hold that against him.  He wrote this book.  I liked his passion about making Christian Organizations conform to Government regulations to protect children.  Horrible stories about abuse in Church run day care where there are no inspectors. 

                              Theocrats

    About this time a man stood up and loudly demanded to hear Dawkins speak.  Everyone booed him and pretty soon the main speaker appeared.  I was not close enough to get a good look but I immediately loved his voice.  Measured English with a touch of fierce sarcasm and a great deal of intelligence.  He launched right in to a very complicated lecture on intelligent design, the folly of most of the ten commandments in this age and morality.   

                      2012-04-05_1307

   There followed a question and answer session which I thought was very brave of him and the first person was a religious person who started to preach about love and how Jesus had died for Dawkin's sins and forgave him.  Everyone started yelling but Dawkins answered the fellow and calmed the situation down.  His point is that you don't have to believe in the Christian religion to be a good person.  Forgiveness and love are available to all humans.  

   The second question was about the possibility of an atheist running for office.  Dawkins said he thought Jack Kennedy might have been an atheist but in those days you couldn't say that at all.  Kennedy barely got elected being a Catholic.  When you ask a Catholic if they really believe that the wafer and wine truly become the blood and flesh of Jesus most people falter.  He also mentioned that we have Romney running for President who believes a man was inspired to start his religion by finding some gold tablets and translating them with a stone in his hat.

   Another questioner asked Dawson if he encouraged mocking Believers.  Dawson answered that he tried to respect the person but not their beliefs and that we should call people out on what they believe and not be shy about taking a different point of view.

    Someone respectfully asked him if he was inspired by psychedelics in his theories and he laughed.   "Regrettably no." he said. We laughed.

    Designer babies, bodies and races were briefly discussed.  I was not sure how his arguments on legalizing abortion made sense.  I am still pondering how a fetus cannot feel any more pain than a pig or lamb that we kill and eat.  I also wonder about the fact that he said to ask where is the soul of identical triplets was after the single cell divides.  He refused to call an embryo a baby.   He also said we should have the choice to assisted suicide.  

   There was a reception for him in a fancy area of town after the lecture for people who contributed one thousand dollars or more to his lecture tour or one thousand five hundred for a couple.  They also encouraged people to go next door to a keg bar and get acquainted and maybe help in spreading the word that Religion is not necessary any more in this world and just causes trouble. 

             tmor-300x300

      His books sold out in the lobby and there was a line for his autograph as I left the concourse.  The pickets were gone and people seemed energized by his talk.  I liked all the young, hopeful energy in the crowd.  It gave me hope in a future where intelligence rules.  I think he is very brave to stand up to the religious right and every other major religion in the world.  I hope he has a good security system.

                       Dawkins-1

                        The_God_Delusion_UK

                         images

                           riveroutofeden

 

 

 

 

 

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I think few American secularists would object to theists if they were not continually and deliberately fusing religious dicta w civil law.

r.
I guess one of the fundamental emotions I have towards religion is it makes cowards of people. There is no dismissal that bad things happen in life. When people die, they are dead. Period. That's a tough thing to face but it's real and awful and it should be faced. It's a real tragedy in life to lose someone loved and valuable but that tragedy should be felt full strength. No superbeing will kiss it and make it good.
My children were raised without religion. They are three of the most caring, ethical, inclusive people I know...much better than I, and I was raised Catholic. I have friends who are Mormon, Jewish, Christians of various persuasions, Shaker, Catholic, Pagan, Hindu, Traditional Ojibway, Agnostic, Buddhist, and Athiest--to name a few. We have more common elements in our belief systems than differences.
No wonder millions have died in the name of religion. The subject is so emotionally charged. I never go to church but tend to be a believer in a theoretical physics kind of way. I do think that civil laws should work just as well as religion to keep our baser instincts in check. Sometimes I miss going to church.
Richard Dawkins and the other members of the so-called new atheist movement have raised many good points about many issues. Most of these are ligitimate; however after looking close at some of what some of them claim I think some problems may turn up and if some of them use some of the same manipulation tactics which religious leaders have used then a rational amount of skepticism is in order for the new atheists as well.

His objections to the Mormon religion may be right in some ways but some of the skeptics for that have over looked some ligitimate mysteries that have surrounded it. there is an enormous amount of documentation about it and some of it does raise some major unanswered questions.

I agree with Dawkins etal about many of the misleading beliefs surrounding that religion but they have yet to explain how it grew so fast and several other mysteries including how Joseph Smith and Brigham Young learned to indoctrinate so many people so effectively and acomplish some other things they almost certainly shouldn't have been able to do.

This deserves a closer look and further research.
I am an existential pantheist in that I believe in every deity that has every or will every exist. Why? Because if history has taught us anything, it is that if anyone is ever so foolish as to deny the existence of another person's deity, that person is more likely than not will to kill you to ratify his religious beliefs. If he's successful, then it's God's will, you're dead and he's right.

This bit of sophistry began as a mind game to discourage or at least befuddle the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons who knocked on my door when I was sleeping off my hangover, but as time goes by it makes more and more sense.
You were right to hope he has a good security team. It would be some religious nut who would try to kill Mr Dawkins to show his love for Jesus!
I was raised Catholic, and am now lapsed. I can definitely appreciate other points of view, including those of atheists. I am also in favor of assisted suicides, when it is the choice of the patient. Illuminating post, zanelle.
echoing Jon
let me try to find the map my mom sent me (the point I got was so not her original point) that showed direct correlation between increased religiosity in people and denial of gay civil rights
From the inimitable Terry Pratchett - "Jingo".

"Night poured over the desert. It came suddenly, in purple. In the clear air, the stars drilled down out of the sky, reminding any thoughtful watcher that it is in the deserts and high places that religions are generated. When men see nothing but bottomless infinity over their heads they have always had a driving and desperate urge to find someone to put in the way."
dawkins is a favorite amonst us dogs. Of course what do we know?
Sarah, as I sit here in my little place 2,000 miles up in the desert behind San Diego I know that power you describe so well.

That power can be found anywhere at anytime. Abundance is a nice thought. All you need is around you right now.

Thank you for all these amazing comments. What a nice bunch of smart people hang around OS.
I've read The God Delusion and have seen several of of speeches and Qs and As on YouTube. On that stuck with me was this guy in his early 20s with a quavering voice told Dawkins that he had walked and talked with Jesus and how much Jesus had helped him through some awful times and how could Dawkins deny such direct, first-hand experience. As gently as he could, Dawkins replied "I'm afraid you're deluded". Excellent writer and thanks for the post zanelle.
"I'm afraid you are deluded." Yes. It is not easy to take on the believers. In my own life I avoid them and they avoid me. I have too many questions. I like how Dawson handles it all. He has chosen a difficult path and I think he is tough and gentle at the same time.
I've always subscribed to the Always Hedge Your Bets religion. Raised Catholic and love the ceremony but who am I to tell someone what they should believe? I don't know many people, okay no one, who has seen God, but then I've never seen an atom, I only believe that some scientists have seen one. I'll have to read some of Mr. Dawkins books. Thanks.
You can't hedge your bets with God. You either swallow Him whole and accept His domination or dismiss the old fraud totally. Because if you accept a God as being all powerful, all knowing, He damned well knows for sure what's going on in your mind.
Anyone who asserts there is a GOD…or that there are gods…is making a blind guess about REALITY.

Anyone who asserts there are no gods…is also making a blind guess about REALITY.

Anyone asserting about “life after death” or asserting “there is nothing after death” is making a blind guess about REALITY.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with making blind guesses about REALITY, but it just seems a bit more ethical to acknowledge that blind guesses are blind guesses…than to pretend they are revelations of some kind.
Aah Frank, you're back on the merry-go-round again. It's how you behave that demonstrates your true colors. If you behave as if there is no god or gods, you're an atheist whether you admit it or not. And to assume you might be wrong and there really is a God and you do not conform to His demands means you're defying Him. Dangerous!
Aah Frank, you're back on the merry-go-round again. It's how you behave that demonstrates your true colors. If you behave as if there is no god or gods, you're an atheist whether you admit it or not. And to assume you might be wrong and there really is a God and you do not conform to His demands means you're defying Him. Dangerous!

Aha, Jan…you are back to pretending you know that gods do not exist…and that you know there is nothing after death.

No problem. Theists do it all the time…although they do make blind guesses in the opposite direction from you. But like you, they insist there is something very reasonable about their blind guesses.

You also are back to pretending that you can define what it means to “behave as if there are no gods.”

Why don’t you share with the world how a person behaves as is there are no gods…or who behaves as though there may be gods.

I know I would get a kick out of it...and perhaps the others here will also.
Frank, you seem not to understand what "believe" means. It indicates how you act, what you do. If you really accept the possibility of active gods you have to behave that way and since there are so may contradicting demands from all these possible gods you deeply believe in you are in something of a quandary as to how you behave. So you put out that you believe they are possible but you ignore them because you cannot possibly obey all of them. And that action of ignoring them is what you really believe no matter what cloud cuckoo land theories you talk about. Religious people pick one god and perform as that god demands. That is belief. That is what the word means. If you perform as if none exist, that is your belief. Stop kidding yourself.
Frank, you seem not to understand what "believe" means. It indicates how you act, what you do. If you really accept the possibility of active gods you have to behave that way and since there are so may contradicting demands from all these possible gods you deeply believe in you are in something of a quandary as to how you behave. So you put out that you believe they are possible but you ignore them because you cannot possibly obey all of them. And that action of ignoring them is what you really believe no matter what cloud cuckoo land theories you talk about. Religious people pick one god and perform as that god demands. That is belief. That is what the word means. If you perform as if none exist, that is your belief. Stop kidding yourself.

Jan, you really have to get control of yourself. You lose it too quickly.

Is it truly impossible for you to conceive of gods who are not demanding?

Is it possible that you are a closet theist…who is certain that any god must be like the god the theists posit?

Is it not possible in your world for a person to be unsure if gods exist…and still not go about prostrating him/herself because of the uncertainty?

In any case, one of the things that theists do is to pretend they know the true nature of REALITY…they assert they know gods exist. Atheists like you (thankfully not all atheists) pretend they know the true nature of REALITY…and they assert they know gods do not exist.

I’ll stick with “I do not know the true nature of REALITY. I cannot rule gods in…but, since a reasonable explanation for existence could include gods, I also cannot rule them out.

The person who ought stop kidding himself, Jan, is you.

Zanelle, this is an excellent essay…and I wish you well in your search. I also am of the opinion that non-theists have to speak out and assert their rights to all parts of society; that non-theists have as much right to be part of government and policy making as their theistic brothers and sisters.

I hope you are more understanding of the point I am trying to make here than Jan is.
Of course there can be gods that are not demanding. And there can be gods that are over-demanding. And there can be gods that are sort of half assed inbetween. The CG (confused god) sector who simply cannot make up their minds - it's tough being a god and they have frequent nervous breakdowns - once every couple of billion years or possibly every other nanosecond depending on personality.
But, to be frank, (if you don't mind both of us being frank or Frank for the purposes of discussion), when you accept all possible gods you cannot be picky-choosey. They are all there in possibilities that you accept and you have to swallow the lot. And that is your problem. You must perform for all of them, the nice the bad and the ugly. And If you excuse my doubts, this is an act you cannot perform. No one can. So you don't and therefore the difference between you and a non-believer is zilch.
Of course there can be gods that are not demanding. And there can be gods that are over-demanding. And there can be gods that are sort of half assed inbetween. The CG (confused god) sector who simply cannot make up their minds - it's tough being a god and they have frequent nervous breakdowns - once every couple of billion years or possibly every other nanosecond depending on personality.
But, to be frank, (if you don't mind both of us being frank or Frank for the purposes of discussion), when you accept all possible gods you cannot be picky-choosey. They are all there in possibilities that you accept and you have to swallow the lot. And that is your problem. You must perform for all of them, the nice the bad and the ugly. And If you excuse my doubts, this is an act you cannot perform. No one can. So you don't and therefore the difference between you and a non-believer is zilch.


Oh, I most assuredly am a non-believer, Jan. But that does not make me an atheist…as you erroneously suggested I am.

Fact is, many atheists are “believers.” I suspect you are one of them, Jan…I suspect you “believe” there are no gods.

I, on the other hand, acknowledge that I do not know…and I see no unambiguous evidence upon which to base a meaningful guess. Those kinds of guesses are blind guesses…and I do recognize that some people disguise their blind guesses using the word “belief.”

If there is a demanding god…one who expects “performance” on my part…one who punishes and rewards humans for the kinds of things Christians (for instance) suggest, I guess I am in a hell of a lot of trouble.
I don't have the temerity, Frank, to speak for most or any atheist but myself. Your problem, Frank, is that you think in possibilities, like most people who buy Lotto tickets or throw their entire wealth overboard when they visit Las Vegas. The casino operators, on the other hand, think in probabilities and, in general, they do rather well at it.

Probabilities are set by observation and events and on that basis gods are overwhelmingly non-existent. People who claim their existence lean heavily on ignorance since nobody knows everything. But we are discovering a great deal every year and not one bit of evidence based on observation so far reveals any gods. Things will change radically when gods appear but that's nothing that worries me.

And I doubt you are in trouble but if you cannot be persuaded otherwise, perhaps you are.
Ah, but there You are wrong, Jan. You are speaking to fRANK apisa, and frank knows EVERYTHING.

There is NO police state.
There is no climate change.
There is no torture, even though shrub says there is, in his book.

If You smoke five or six joints a day, but stop for a day or two a year, You can analyze situations clearly, like fRANK; and don't forget

gingrich is gonna' be our next president.

fRANK is NEVER wrong.


-R-
Probabilities are set by observation and events and on that basis gods are overwhelmingly non-existent.

Using your reasoning, the probability that there are other beings in our universe must be overwhelmingly non-existent. But of course, most of us realize the defects in your line of reasoning there, Jan. Gods may exist; gods may not exist. Theists claim the “probability” of gods is great; atheists claim it is almost non-existent. Setting the “probability” of gods existing or not existing is self-serving nonsense.

People who claim their existence lean heavily on ignorance since nobody knows everything.

People who claim they do not exist probably lean as heavily on ignorance. All we can logically say is: We do not know.

But we are discovering a great deal every year and not one bit of evidence based on observation so far reveals any gods.

Correct. Not one bit of evidence based on observations so far has revealed any being living on any planet circling the nearest 5 stars to Sol…but no intelligent person would consider that evidence that there are no beings living there.

Things will change radically when gods appear but that's nothing that worries me.

Great. Doesn’t worry me either.

And I doubt you are in trouble but if you cannot be persuaded otherwise, perhaps you are.

Not really sure what that was supposed to mean, but it doesn’t sound important—so I’ll just leave it.
Your reasoning is pretty far off insofar as other beings are concerned since organic compounds basic to the functions of life have been discovered throughout the universe through astronomical observations. The more recent discovery of how planets are plentiful in the galaxy also indicates a very high probability of other life.

Nothing comparable as an indication of gods has appeared. There is absolutely no observed indication of either gods or anything demanding the existence of gods.

That final remark of mine is quite important if you have the interest and capability to think it through.
Your reasoning is pretty far off insofar as other beings are concerned since organic compounds basic to the functions of life have been discovered throughout the universe through astronomical observations. The more recent discovery of how planets are plentiful in the galaxy also indicates a very high probability of other life.

Answer the question as regards the planets circling the nearest 5 stars to Sol, Jan.

My reasoning is not far off…and in fact, is right on the mark.



And you would know that how??? Are you an expert in detecting gods? Tell us…what do you use to “detect” gods? And lastly, are you of the mind that a god that wanted to hide itself from you cannot exist?

There is absolutely no observed indication of either gods or anything demanding the existence of gods.

There is absolutely no observed indication of carbon-based forms of life resembling terrestrial horses that exist on any planet circling the nearest 3 starts to Sol either; and there is absolutely no demand for such life to exist.

But anyone who would use those facts to come up with “therefore the probability of that kind of life there is remote” is being remarkably illogical. I expect better from you, Jan.

That final remark of mine is quite important if you have the interest and capability to think it through.

Oh, is this where you start questioning my intelligence and sanity, Jan? You do that in almost every exchange we have…and I was wondering when it would start. This was a subtler beginning…and I congratulate you on that.

Zanelle Sorry for this, but you have absolute power to stop it if it annoys you. I will cease immediately if you ask for me to do so.
Let's try that again:


Your reasoning is pretty far off insofar as other beings are concerned since organic compounds basic to the functions of life have been discovered throughout the universe through astronomical observations. The more recent discovery of how planets are plentiful in the galaxy also indicates a very high probability of other life.

Answer the question as regards the planets circling the nearest 5 stars to Sol, Jan.

My reasoning is not far off…and in fact, is right on the mark.

Nothing comparable as an indication of gods has appeared.

And you would know that how??? Are you an expert in detecting gods? Tell us…what do you use to “detect” gods? And lastly, are you of the mind that a god that wanted to hide itself from you cannot exist?

There is absolutely no observed indication of either gods or anything demanding the existence of gods.

There is absolutely no observed indication of carbon-based forms of life resembling terrestrial horses that exist on any planet circling the nearest 3 starts to Sol either; and there is absolutely no demand for such life to exist.

But anyone who would use those facts to come up with “therefore the probability of that kind of life there is remote” is being remarkably illogical. I expect better from you, Jan.

That final remark of mine is quite important if you have the interest and capability to think it through.

Oh, is this where you start questioning my intelligence and sanity, Jan? You do that in almost every exchange we have…and I was wondering when it would start. This was a subtler beginning…and I congratulate you on that.

Zanelle Sorry for this, but you have absolute power to stop it if it annoys you. I will cease immediately if you ask for me to do so.
Sorry Frank, you are just too silly to bother with anymore. I have given you very sensible reasons to not bother with gods and you are still lost wandering amongst unverifiable totally imaginative possibilities when probabilities are what we use in rational functioning for our lives. And you are insulted when I request you to think about my statement. What am I to conclude about your ability to think?
Sorry Frank, you are just too silly to bother with anymore. I have given you very sensible reasons to not bother with gods and you are still lost wandering amongst unverifiable totally imaginative possibilities when probabilities are what we use in rational functioning for our lives. And you are insulted when I request you to think about my statement. What am I to conclude about your ability to think?

I think if you opened you mind to what I’ve written, you could conclude that I am able to think quite clearly. The New York Times apparently thought I think well enough to print an op ed sized letter of mine and NEWSWEEK Magazine printed a full page MY TURN…and paid me $1000 for it.

But I suppose you feel better about yourself to suppose I have difficulty thinking. So go with that. It costs me nothing.

Back on the topic at hand:

Theists assert there is a GOD…or that the probability of a GOD is so great as to constitute certainty that there is one.

Some atheists (not all) assert that there are no gods…or that the probability of gods is so small as to constitute certainty that there are none.

Both are being illogical…and offering self-serving scenarios. There is not enough evidence or reason to support either of those assertions.

Sorry you cannot see this, Jan. Most theists have trouble with that information; I suspect that is because they have closed their minds to the possibility of being wrong.

I suspect you also have closed your mind to the possibility that you are wrong.

No problem, Jan. The sun will shine; the birds will sing; you can continue to think I an too silly to bother with--and life will go on.
I'm afraid the NY Times and Newsweek are hardly the experts on the existence of gods I can rely on considering their past performances on such things as weapons of mass destruction, for one example amongst many.

Frank, you are that little boy who can't sleep because there is a monster in his closet and when his father opens the closet door to demonstrate nothing there he says it only appears when the door is closed. Grow up, Frank. I am tired of trying to hold your hand to calm you.
As I've said elsewhere, this "conversation with the moron clarifies one part of the mystery. From its bio: "On a political continuum with Extreme Liberal at 1 and Extreme Conservative at 10, I can be found at position “P.”

Clearly, amongst other things, the "P" stands for puerile and pre-pubescent.
@markinjapan

I am sorry that this conversation has drifted into attacking persons. That convinces nobody and only creates an ugly atmosphere.

My problem with Frank is that he has a strange fixation on a world that exists with infinite possibilities which must be taken seriously to the detriment of reacting to established information that is reasonably based on observation which is subject to change as new information is obtained. One cannot sanely live in a world where the wildest possibilities are given equal weight to observed phenomena that have been proven reliable.

I can speculate about Frank as to why he is so determined to hold on to a reality stuffed to the gills with fantasy, that he might have been indoctrinated in a religious atmosphere and these implanted and traditional myths are very difficult to dispose of if they are buried deep in his nervous system. But this is pure supposition and based on no real information.

I find him both amusing and pitiful but this is a very personal viewpoint. I doubt he is stupid, merely very odd and unable to face the reality that life is lived pragmatically on observation and experience..
Jan, as someone whom I consider to be a friend, I do not bristle at any criticism You may have towards my approach, however, I will take Your last words: "I doubt he is stupid, merely very odd and unable to face the reality that life is lived pragmatically on observation and experience.. and say that anyone of fRANK's age who has faced the realities of life and come to the conclusions that he has is either stupid or willfully ignorant.

I strongly suspect both to be the case based upon his own pronouncements.
@markinjapan

I too suspect ulterior motivation but I cannot figure what that might be.
Well, Zanelle, there are some people here who think that the existence of gods is so unlikely, that they consider people who suspend judgment to be immature, silly, or given to unreasonable fear.

I do not know if gods exist. I am of the opinion that “gods” are a possible explanation for existence; in other words, there is nothing I see that excludes the possibility.

I see nothing upon which to base a meaningful guess that there are gods; I see nothing upon which to base a meaningful guess that there are no gods; and I see nothing upon which to base meaningful probability estimates in either direction. I do not see anything silly, immature, or unreasonably fearful about that.

I would love to know if you feel there is reasonable evidence upon which to base a meaningful guess on any of these things…and I would love to know if you agree with these others that anyone who does not rule gods out is immature, silly, and fearful.
It is not a matter of ruling gods out, it simply is not a useful concept. One can do nothing with it. One could just as easily say a magician in a top hat said a magic word and the universe appeared. What should scientists do? Look for magic words?
Quite a lot to digest here with my breakfast but I love a good discussion. I like what Dawkins said about respecting all people but challenging their views.

I am an agnostic and not an atheist. I like to think I am open to all ideas and that includes thinking that rocks are alive and that magical things can happen. I respect science but I do not take scientific facts or religious doctrine seriously. I like to have fun with it all.

My ethical behavior is not connected to my beliefs. I am a part of this human species and I try to do my best not to give it a worse reputation than it already has. The fighting over religion has to stop in this world or we are all doomed.

That doesn't mean we can't talk about it. We need to discuss these things.
As is evident, I'm not enthusiastic about religious doctrine, but to scoff at scientific facts sort of puts civilization in danger, not to speak of the precarious effects of ignoring the law of gravity.
Jan, funny you should mention defying the laws of gravity being dangerous. I love to defy gravity and the University of Washington was conducting quite a bit of unorthodox gravity studies when I lived there painting my explosion series. I smashed things and threw the debris in the air and explored where it came down. I was interested in the pieces that did not land where expected and ended way out of any rational explanation about where they should have landed.

Fandango...I overheard some women in the next booth at a restaurant today talking about the evil in the world. They seemed to think that was a good reason to believe in a god with a capital g that could protect them. That FSM is pretty scary. Hiding doesn't work tho.
You didn't defy gravity, you analyzed it. Laws of nature are laws because they work every time whether you believe in them or not. To defy gravity you must evade it and you cannot do that. Gods traditionally perform "miracles" which defy natural laws and if that is accepted, natural law and the study of natural law which is one of the basics of science would be folly since no one would be able to discover why a law was not maintained. If a law seems to be violated then science discovers why and the law is adjusted so it accommodates the "violation" and the law then still holds. Without undefiable laws science would be a farce.
You just said some laws have to be adjusted. I agree. We adjust the laws all the time with our senses and our minds. The mind and imagination are very powerful. Focus, attention and manipulation can cause changes in physical matter. I focus. I have my own unique perspective and so does everyone else. We are just beginning to understand what reality is and it is just an illusion so far that is always changing. I challenge time and space every moment.
There are kids who tie a towel around their neck and drape it over their shoulders for a cape and pretend they are superman and jump off roofs. Illusions can be horribly disappointing. Natural laws are not created by people, they are discoveries as to how nature functions and you'd better damned well pay attention.
I take care of people who do not know up from down. Their world operates under the same physical laws as mine does but they miss the mark. When you empathize with them and see the world thru their senses you see a different world. It works for them and often they think they are "normal". I see the floor differently when I help them walk. Sure they don't do as well as I do but I often wonder how I would do if I saw the world thru the time and space warp they have. Warps. I like to move at warp speed. Laws are made to be broken.
Man made legalities are often foolish and sometimes totally insane. Natural laws never. There are penalties for broken laws in each case but penalties for attempting violations of natural laws can be extreme and are never forgiven.
wow I have to think about that. "attempting violations of natural laws can be extreme and are never forgiven." So when I hang something heavy from a tree limb I know I am tempting gravity. But I have to try it. Today one of my art works fell to the ground. I was amazed that it didnt get damaged at all. You would think this would stop me from hanging heavy things precariously from tree limbs but I keep doing it. I learn something when ever one falls. This one was on a weak branch. I move along. Walking thru hot coals as fast as I can.
Simply put, if you hang something from a tree and the rope and the tree are sufficient to counteract the force of gravity you have figured in the proper structures to exist within the gravity field. You are not violating the force of gravity, you are properly compensating for it.
Zanelle, good to see a fellow agnostic here in OS.

The theists and atheists here are interesting people…although the conversations with them can at times be trying.

Obviously we do not know the true nature of REALITY. Searching for it seems to me to be the most interesting of pursuits…even though it seems destined to be fruitless.

The theists and atheists who insist they know the REALITY…or who can figure out the probability of components of REALITY…are almost certainly kidding themselves, probably for a variety of reasons.

I get into these discussions knowing they are headed nowhere…and that some of the participants will resort to calling me stupid, unrealistic, unreasonable, and mentally challenged.

So be it.

The “interesting” aspects of the conversations more than compensates for the attempted insults that have to be endured. And at some point, the “attempted insults” become a point of enjoyment and satisfaction in their own right.

This thread appears to be stymied right now, but I’ll stick around in case it heads back in a reasonable direction. If it doesn’t, however, I hope we meet in other threads discussing these issues.

In any case, I think you will have more success defying gravity than in getting logical arguments across to some of the OS community.
Frank, you really shouldn't talk about reality until you can clearly lay out what the word means.
Oh, also Frank, I cannot gauge your intelligence but by your statements you have revealed an extraordinary ignorance.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information

It's not simple or obvious.
Much of information theory involves the transmission of a message and the symbols involved in coding and decoding the message. I am very suspicious of this approach because it involves teleology in a way and implies intent. A mind experiences the world as patterns which are the product, not only of the impinging energies on a receptive system but the constituency of the receptive system itself. This system has been evolved to fit the incoming energies into patterns which have some relationship to survival of the receptive system and this puts strong directives into what patterns are significant and what energies are perceived as noise which is irrelevant. But it has been noted that white noise contains all possible information. It's the old fifty million monkeys problem and the brain is expert in discarding irrelevant material. As an artist I deal with resolutions of random patterns all the time and it is frequently impossible for me to derive cogent information from particular random patterns. I doubt there is intent in the patterns. The cogent patterns are te product of my particular mind which has had a lifetime of pattern formation and it searches automatically for similarities to past experience.
Fascinating Link, Jan. "to give form to the mind" is reality. I put a comment on my recent post about clouds about a wise woman Shakti Gawain talking about visualization. We could continue this discussion over there as this section is getting kind of long and yet I like to see the way Richard Dawkins name has generated such a good bunch of comments.
It is a tough thing to be an agnostic because it has so many interpretations and you get flack from all sides. I liked your idea of information packages Fandango. Matter into energy and back again seems like the way I see things happening around me. I just think like Jan says, it isnt easy. Human emotions are powerful and very difficult to control even with information and I think they influence the laws of physics some way.
My last boyfriend was a con artist. He could make anyone believe anything. He was a great salesman. I thought he was kind of hollow at the core tho and his view of reality lacked some sort of compassion that seems to me to be important. When my art work falls from the trees because of gravity I get emotional. And I work to better understand reality so that I can avoid problems. At the same time I persevere in spite of accidents. I gain more information to succeed but that information isn't necessarily about physical properties only. It has to do with being flexible and seeing things that aren't there yet. Imagination is so important.
Be careful about particles and the word "exist". Simple words that we take for granted can be the most difficult to tie down. There are times when particles behave as particles and times when they behave as waves. It's like a small eddy whirlpool in water. Does it exist as an entity or merely an energy pattern in water that can form and disappear but the energy is still somewhere there in the water? Space itself is brimming with energy and the "whirlpools" we call particles can also be seen as some form of wave.
Jan Sand wrote:

Oh, also Frank, I cannot gauge your intelligence but by your statements you have revealed an extraordinary ignorance.

I am intelligent enough to respond to you without all the gratuitous insults you include in so many of your posts, Jan.

Pot, kettle, black…ya know what I mean?
Frank, you really shouldn't talk about reality until you can clearly lay out what the word means.

Obviously this is from the Gospel of St. Jan. Any chance you could give chapter and verse so I can check it?
Gary wrote:

It is more interesting to consider reality when you include quantum mechanics. Particle move in an out of existence and jump instantaneously from one energy state to another. Matter changes into energy and vice versa. What is the most basic element of matter, if there is one? I sometimes think that the ultimate particle is an information packet. Everything - matter, energy, time - is an emergent property of information.

All that could be true, Gary…and may very well be.

But whatever actually IS, Gary…IS what IS.

Whatever actually is…no matter how bizarre; no matter if we can describe it; no matter if we can understand it…whatever actually IS…IS.

That is the REALITY.
When one talks about reality and ignorance, fRANK should be barred from participation, as he has issued a series of pronouncements that ANY thinking person can gauge as light years divorced from any semblence of reality.

One of the most delusional that still tickles me when I see anyone take this bozo seriously is this:

"Pot is one of the most satisfying drugs ever discovered.
But...I, for instance, always limited myself to 5 or 6 joints a day...and often I would take a day or two off each year."

Frank Apisa
SEPTEMBER 08, 2011 08:10 PM

The inanity of using the word "limited myself" and then following them up with "5 or 6 joints a day" sounds like something the writers of Abbot and Costello could never dream up, but the kicker of "often I would take a day or two off each year." is way beyond anything even the most creative Hollywood writers could ever dream up.
Frank, you do have a nose to detect amusing foggy notions, that much must be admitted. We went through the "is" routine with the Clinton impeachment and it kept the nation amused for a good while until Clinton was re-elected inspite of his wayward noodle.

Korzybski explored that peculiar little word sometime ago and finally concluded it should be banned. He had a point. Is is a generality from a particular that is totally deceiving.

As I pointed out, Frank, there are things you should be aware of and you are deeply in the dark. You take that as an insult when it is merely a prod for you to educate yourself. Don't let your ego obstruct your perception.
Insofar as reality is concerned, Frank, don't try to weasel out of it by asking me to define a word you insist on using. That's your problem and if you cannot come up with a solution you are left empty handed.
Jan wrote:

As I pointed out, Frank, there are things you should be aware of and you are deeply in the dark. You take that as an insult when it is merely a prod for you to educate yourself. Don't let your ego obstruct your perception.

And you talk to me about ego! Egad!

Thanks for the laughs.


Insofar as reality is concerned, Frank, don't try to weasel out of it by asking me to define a word you insist on using. That's your problem and if you cannot come up with a solution you are left empty handed.

I’m not asking you to define it, Jan…I am just getting a kick out of the effort you are putting into all this nonsense…and without a hint of enjoyment. You gotta stop taking yourself so seriously, Jan. Put a smile on your face and enjoy these delightful give and takes.

I am.
Sociopathic moron with a passive-agressive personality disorder, AND a sh*t eating grin to boot. What more could one ask for to confirm that the guy belongs in a padded cell?

How's that gingrich preDICKtion going for ya', moron?
Hey, zanelle.
Richard Dawkins Gave Me a Headache.
He was here last week "debating" our Cardinal Pell.
It wasn't a debate ; it was like this thread.
I miss Christopher Hitchens. At least he wasn't a smug asshat.
Do you mean the Christopher Higgins that so appreciated and loudly applauded the wonders of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?
It is not appropriate, Frank, to giggle and drool over poor unfortunate people who cannot appreciate even the most basic understanding of what they see and how they live. That's why I do not find you all that comical. I do not laugh at cripples. People so disabled as yourself need help, not disdain.
Whoops! Hitchens, not Higgens. I had Pygmalion on my mind.
I am thinking of Hitchens the atheist, not Hitchens the apologist.
The man was capable of entertaining 2 discrete notions at the same time, Jan ;-)
What a thread to come home to after a long day working with insane people. I know that I really do enjoy the banter at work when you expect everyone to not make sense. I think it is such a challenge to be out in the sane world and pretend everything is just fine.

Believe me when I tell you that kindness is the only path. If you stray from a life centered in love you pay. I am not sure what atheists think about LOVE. It is awfully close to the GOD word and I hate that. It has always scared me. Very powerful stuff and akin to HATE.

Emotions are more important than particles. There is a big shift in our concepts of time and space coming soon. I love the show Fringe where the climax is tonight and the two parallel universes are in danger of colliding. The fight for reality is on.

What is real is up for discussion. And for what it is worth I am stoned right now. Lovely talking to all you gentlemen. Behave.
What is being ignored is that people are not grasshoppers, squid or fruitbats, none of which would function capably as members of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study. In fairness it should be noted that any of the geniuses at Princeton would most surely fare badly trying to compete with grasshoppers attempting to operate within their life style.

Evolution has endowed humans with a particular set of instruments and brains to match to prosper under very limited conditions A few miles above or below the fragile surface of this particular planet where some adapted bacteria frolic joyfully humans would expire in a few desperate moments. And people don't seem to realize and accommodate themselves that our brains are not totally universal instruments but as tightly constructed and functional within highly limited expectations. Each evolved creature creates a comprehension of reality within those limitations and humans are no exception. It is senseless insanity to demand accountability to all possible fantasies of reality which Frank claims he does but openly ignores the required implications for his rather nutty conjectures. He claims agnosticism but nevertheless performs as an atheist because that is the best anybody can do. He is a very profound hypocrite.
So it is either all or nothing. I am happy to say I am a grey person. I like to think about our existence in this five miles radius of carbon life but I want to be so brave that I could die in the next five minutes and do it with grace.

Exiting this existence and going to another place is what the root of religion is about. Where do you go when you die? If I thought a scientist could overcome death I might be interested but no one escapes and the timing of a death is important.

Hypocrite is a dirty word in my life and I do not take it lightly. It is what my grandfather called the people who went to church in his little town. He went to the bar and got the real world. Right. A hypocrite is one of the worst things a person can be and I see that hypocritical nature in every human being. Tread carefully.
A hypocrite is somebody who refuses to accept the nature of his actions which bespeak the truth. Frank pretends to accord belief in all possible gods but acts to ignore all of them. Living demands actions to accompany words. One must accept the results of one's actions.

Where do we go when we die? Where did we come from when we were born? Where did the World Trade Center go when it collapsed? Where does an apple go when you chew it up? Is there a destination for chewed up apples? Full of happy ghost apples strumming harps whilst small magic cherries with wings fly through the clouds and the Holy Watermelon benignly watches all? I have deeper feelings than doubts on the matter.
Good Lord!

Uh, I mean, holy hell, zanelle.

Wait that wasn't appropriate either.

What's going on here???
I love Richard Dawkins' voice. I don't care what he says about God; he could sell me a time share on the moon with that voice.

And Jan - you've got me craving fruit salad.
Since there is a real but very remote possibility that apples, oranges and raisins have souls and broccoli is most favored for vegatative heaven, I have given up eating vegetables. I gave up eating meat some time ago. I am currently subsisting on sand (most appropriate) with a few bits of medium sized gravel thrown in for texture. It's a bit rough on my teeth but they will be worn away soon enough and with sand gums will do as well. Rich people, of course, who maintain this attitude do fairly well consuming precious metals and perhaps a diamond or two for dessert. There is a bit of flavor here and there where a dog has relieved itself on my sandpile and that is a bit sharp and it wakes me in the morning. Since sand is rather heavy stuff I have not lost much weight ad it solves my cholesterol problem. Defecation tends to be a bit noisy and my plumber's friend is kept quite busy keeping the drain clear. I am somewhat concerned at the comment that rocks are alive but their basic nature seems unchanged in their passage through my system and I presume they perhaps enjoy the novelty of the passage like a ride through Disneyland.

I am somewhat sympathetic with Frank who has the infinitesimal possibility of being correct and at his ultimate confrontation with St.Peter at the gate to heaven he will be given the standard derisive short shrift with the remark from the old saint that you can't work both sides of the street and either you commit yourself totally to get the admission ticket or you roast a bit to think it over for being a wise guy. Atheists, of course, never show up since they have voluntarily chosen terminal obliteration and thereby escape theological mistreatment and don't even have to worry about resting in peace.
Jan wrote:

It is not appropriate, Frank, to giggle and drool over poor unfortunate people who cannot appreciate even the most basic understanding of what they see and how they live. That's why I do not find you all that comical. I do not laugh at cripples. People so disabled as yourself need help, not disdain.

If that is what you have to think of me to have your life feel good, Jan, do so. Not sure of what I have said or done that causes such scorn in you, but since I see you exhibit it so often, I suspect it is not a function of what I say, but a function of how you feel about your own existence.
I am somewhat sympathetic with Frank who has the infinitesimal possibility of being correct and at his ultimate confrontation with St.Peter at the gate to heaven he will be given the standard derisive short shrift with the remark from the old saint that you can't work both sides of the street and either you commit yourself totally to get the admission ticket or you roast a bit to think it over for being a wise guy. Atheists, of course, never show up since they have voluntarily chosen terminal obliteration and thereby escape theological mistreatment and don't even have to worry about resting in peace.

This sounds to me like something written by a person who “believes” in gods and an afterlife…and who is in a snit yelling, “I hate you, I hate you” to the god.

Jan, your life can’t really be that bad…and it is not necessary to blame any gods that might exist for how you feel about it. Try to improve your attitude and the sun will come out in your life. In the meantime, if you are going to argue that hypocrisy derives from how one acts, you ought be more careful when writing this kind of thing.
Zanelle, in any case, I want to restate that I am particularly bothered by the notion that so-called non-believers are treated so dismissively in our society. Atheists and agnostics have every bit as much right to be considered for office…and dismissing their candidacies primarily on the basis of “beliefs” or lack of them is tantamount to disqualifying them for skin color or gender.

Some movement has got to be made in that area…and I thank you for being part of that movement.
Frank, that you cannot comprehend parody is another rather basic lack in your mental tool chest. That is most unfortunate.

One has only to glance at the political atmosphere in the country today to comprehend how firm the grasp is of religious fantasy on the public mind. That should be obvious.
Frank, that you cannot comprehend parody is another rather basic lack in your mental tool chest. That is most unfortunate.

Jan, your need to insult people at every opportunity and pretend that you are not actually doing so is hilarious.

"Parody!" That was a gas, Jan. You ought to be writing for Leno.

One has only to glance at the political atmosphere in the country today to comprehend how firm the grasp is of religious fantasy on the public mind. That should be obvious.

And you are under the mistaken impression that I am not aware of the problems in that regard?????
fRANK, when are you going to wake up and realize that most people who read you, look at your words and feel pity, because it is obvious that you think little better than an adolescent, and at seventy something years old, you are still a lightweight schmuck who has really never done anything worthwhile in his pitiful life?
@Seer

Something like saying being mentally clear headed is merely another form of a mental aberration.
I have really attempted to get through to Frank that you simply cannot accept the possibility of gods and then blithely ignore them. Gods have a bad reputation of being pissed off if ignored.

But it is useless to become angry with Frank. It's obvious there are a few things beyond his understanding. Let it go at that.
Once again, Jan, I find it distressing to take issue with a friend and person I hold in great esteem, but I think to say that "there are a few things beyond his understanding," is an understatement of epic proportions and an effort, gentleman that you are, to extend some sympathy and compassion for this wretched soul.

It would be MUCH easier to list the things that fRANK DOES understand than to compile a list of what he doesn't understand and/or is TOTALLY clueless about.
Mark, I wouldn't expect a snapping turtle to recite John Donne nor a goldfish to prepare a spaghetti dinner nor an electric toaster to play Mozart. No sense in getting angry about it. That's how things are.
I have really attempted to get through to Frank that you simply cannot accept the possibility of gods and then blithely ignore them.

Jan…other than the fact that you have asserted it, is anything else that corroborates your assertion that one cannot accept the possibility of gods and then blithely ignore them?

I guarantee I accept the possibility of gods…and I am totally willing to ignore them. I expect there are others here who accept the possibility of gods…and are willing to totally ignore them.

Why do you assume others must accept what you assert…especially when what you assert in this instance is absurd?

Gods have a bad reputation of being pissed off if ignored.

Really! Perhaps the ones you believe in, Jan. I am open to the idea that gods can exist…and not give a damn what we do or do not do. Sorry you are not able to open your mind to that idea, but that is your problem.
Jan and MarkinJapan, I am really appalled that you have such hatred in your words for Frank and I assume towards me too. I would love to talk to some atheists who are not so crude. The ideas that we are all bouncing around are fascinating. I loved the digestive journey with Jan. That is imagination at work.
There is always hope and we are going to see more of this kind of dialogue in the future as the religions of the world battle each other down to nothing and thinking people have to take over. Do we have animosity to look forward to among us too. I try not to make fun of atheists. I think their views are very important and balance out the religious zealots. But I also love the views of people like Frank and I. And I am happy to know that Richard Dawkins is out there trying to discuss as openly as possible all of his personal viewpoints and listening to what everyone has to say. He deserves a medal for taking all the controversy head on.
So to reiterate my stand on the nature of reality I am open. When I look closely at what is around me I see things that cannot be explained by anyone. All you need is one tiny exception to disprove any scientific theory. One tiny thing! And the whole theory has to be redone. We are constantly evolving. So I try to stay open to everything.
I have a good friend who is a Deacon in the Byzantine Catholic Church. His reality of angels and God's help is so strong that he just relaxes and enjoys it. I sometimes feel his angels and can imagine their power. I went to their church and the visit is still in my heart. They have made it a very real place with spirits all around. If I were to walk in to that place with a heart that is closed I would miss so much. As it is I can play with the idea of angels and I can love my friend because he believes and not in spite of that belief.
I cannot speak for Mark who is, in my estimation, far too emotional on Frank than I am. This is derived, insofar as I can tell, from Frank's attitude towards the current Obama administration revealed in other posts and I cannot go into that here. I do not hate Frank or you for what I perceive as an addiction to religious delusions, I merely am frustrated by humanity in general for not being able to evaluate total nonsense and reject it as useless in a world under deep distress for not being able to face highly dangerous problems and arrive at rational answers that can save millions of lives and mitigate much terrible unnecessary suffering. It is not a minor problem but might, in the end, endanger all life on the planet. This is nothing to be calm about but affects everybody's existence and must be solved and solved in the near future or terrible troubles will result.
In Frank's latest response it is obvious he is incapable of comprehending what the problem is. It may seem as a totally minor nuisance but people are being imprisoned and dying even now for such idiocies as insulting imaginary gods and it is well past time that this must stop. Frank's latest comment puts forth that his acceptance of all gods as possible is OK because ineffectual gods exist and therefore he is safe from the vicious ones. This is so obviously nonsense that I have no rational way to reach him and make him understand this.

If it were just your friend in love with naive idiocies like angels I could pass it off as acceptable childishness like believing in fairies and elves and demons in the closet but women are being oppressed, children are having their minds twisted, unfortunates are being murdered as witches, homosexuals are being tortured and imprisoned for no sensible reasons at all and slight religious difference in sectors are being set against each other to cause terrible and unnecessary dissensions by manipulative politics for control purposes. These horrors cannot be lightly dismissed as mere harmless delusions.
I have read munch of Your blog, Zanelle and have absolutely NOTHING against You, nor the topics You wish to discuss.

I consider fRANK to be less than a neanderthal, regardless of the subject at hand, and address him as such.
Putting aside derogatory remarks about Neanderthals who, apparently, had a larger brain capacity than the current dominant simian species, I find Frank interesting as a problem in grotesque psychology. To generalize about him as a typical specimen of a specific human frailty I have mentally searched through his motivational characteristics and I suspect one of his basic lacks is an inferior or perhaps over or under active psychological threshold.

In engineering or physics or biology a threshold is a point of trigger reaction wherein data is gathered without reaction until it acquires sufficient strength to trigger an output. The firing of a nerve cell, for instance, through its axon when sufficient input from its dendrites is accomplished.

The human mind is sequestered from the general environment through various barriers and filters so that the huge amount of irrelevant data available through its various sense apparatuses can be prevented from overwhelming its general resources and only data of sure relevance is admitted to permit a reaction. Conditioning as to what is or is not relevant is dependent upon experience and selective qualities of the nervous system which can be either inherent or developed.

In effect each human mind lives in a kind of personal dwelling furnished with various useful apparatus to conduct necessary business and the useful furniture is separated from the massive store of possible stuff intimated out of the natural patternmaking processes inherent in all brains. These processes are in continuous automatic operation manufacturing, not only usable articles which we term “facts” but a huge store of stuff allocated to a storage warehouse of the mind labeled both reasonable and unreasonable possibilities.

The useful stuff is mostly discovered by pragmatic processes. If it works it is deemed useful. If it is defective it is either dismissed entirely or put back into storage as perhaps useful with future repair. A few non-utilitarian gimcracks can be kept around for decorative purposes but only somebody somewhat unbalanced takes these frequently amusing bits as serious useful furniture.

To get back to Frank, his dwelling is so cluttered with mental kitsch he can no longer recognize what the functional furniture is and he keeps mistaking weird contraptions for working apparatus. Although this frequently reaches comic proportions it seems to me it makes life far more difficult than necessary and all that stuff is better put away past the threshold into storage where it can do no damage.
Well I think on that note we will close these comments. I am done.
Comments are now closed.