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04 November 2010 @ 03:28 pm
It is often said that Jesus "raised the bar" when he said "every time you lay eyes on a woman to lust after her" or similar.

But really, this is totally false. Divorce and murder are rules regarding behaviour. Of course, in a society you have to set up such rules so that everyone knows what is and isn't allowed. What takes place inside you is not "more" nor "less" than that - it is just something completely different.

If your inner behaviour helps you conform to a desired outer behaviour - more power to you. But really, this is your own decision and not something that a godbeing/son of god/magic man in the sky can decide and decree for you.
08 August 2010 @ 09:03 am
Just a little semi-coherent rambling... more like notes-to-self, really.

The downfall of religions does not start when they state that humans are imperfect, sinful, unenlightened. It starts much, much earlier. It starts when they try to set up perfection as a measuring stick.

Of course I am not perfect. We all seem to accept that. But what does that really mean? How exactly would I be if I were perfect?

The fact that we cannot even imagine ourselves as perfect does not imply even more imperfection. It simply means that perfection is an arbitrary abstraction without any real meaning.

Against that illusory concept do we measure ourselves. And then, obviously, we turn up flawed, sinful, unenlightened.

Only, it doesn't make sense to say that you're flawed; flawed against what absolute measure?

My memory isn't perfect because you seem to remember more details of your childhood than I do? Well, my memory works differently than yours. The fact that we don't remember everything does not mean that we have "imperfect memory" - it means that memory does not work like RAM. That's really all it means.

It is not noble to seek perfection - it's stupid. It cannot ever be reached, because it's undefined. You can get good at a specific discipline, measured against your own expectations.

There is no god, therefore there is no sin.
26 May 2010 @ 07:18 am
You know, this kind of bugs me.

I've been very adverse to christianity, and I also had times when I was very soft, and almost felt like an "inofficial christian" myself. (Yeah, I am able and sometimes willing to interpret things in a way such that everything is everything else; I can be odd at that. Also, technically speaking, I cannot even escape christianity, according to their own doctrine, being baptised and all.)

I would love to just have a few hearty, hard debates with intelligent christians. I mean, they can try to convert me, I really don't mind that. I'm old enough to think for myself, and I certainly don't fear manipulation or whatever.

But this doesn't seem at all possible, at least online. The faith-based communities will ban you for being heretic and "luring people away from the faith", the anti-religious communities won't have many christian members, and there doesn't seem to be much in between.

I have times when I think, screw it, and I go pestering the christians. But of course, all that does is stir up shit. Do I really want that? Well, yes and no. It's fun for a while, but it doesn't go anywhere.

My position on this is decidedly un-decided. On the one hand, if you stumble into buddhists, and declare that you think the buddha was a moron, they'll most likely just laugh you off, or debate you - but they won't ban you. This is what I expect of grown-up folks.

I guess, since I enjoy an intellectual challenge, I have a hard time seeing that other folks can't enjoy that at all. In fact, I see it as a profound weakness in faith-based religions.

But on the other hand, aren't folks allowed to retreat into their weird little ghetto?

And then again, *they* are allowed to go out and proselytize to their heart's content. So the debate always seems to be on their terms, which seems totally unjustified to me.

And then again... It's just ugly to think that no debate is really possible between believer and unbeliever. It's totally irrational and unjustified.

And then again... and again...

(xposted around)
25 May 2010 @ 09:01 am
Oh dear.

I honestly didn't intend to post another of those infamous evolution/creation topics. But then I watched this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr6uvUNJLww

And I noticed how the creationist (a clever youngster) never let the scientist really answer his questions, and how he kept asking questions... attack attack attack. And in the comments, someone mentioned the Gish Gallop. There is an actual name to it, and this gets ''taught'' among creationists. Laurence Tisdall, of the aforementioned debate, even sells a video on How To Debate An Evolutionist And NEVER Lose.

And now I'm shocked.

The basic ideas seem to be to ask lots of questions, never let the opponent answer them thoroughly, interrupt them rudely and declare victory the first time the opponent hesitates. And never to answer questions about creationism. Of course, this works well with complex topics, because even professionals cannot know every single last detail of the theory, and as scientists they will try to answer every question rationally, incorrectly assuming that the creationist is really interested in rational debate. They will hesitate, because it takes time to go through the questions, and if you're hit by a shitload of questions, it confuses your mind, regardless of how intelligent you are. It's a totally screwed game and has nothing to do with finding the truth.

I used to think that those are just folks who got caught up in a fancy, if erroneous, worldview.

They're not. Those are tricksters who specialize in the very blackest areas of black rhetorics. These folks are more akin to scientologists than to proponents of an actual religion.

I really think information about those "debate tactics" needs to reach public consciousness. The danger inherent in irrational world views must not be underestimated, and we shouldn't reduce ourselves to a position of silent "tolerance". It is important that people know that creationism is a brainwashing cult of destructiveness and propaganda.

Of course, it doesn't logically follow that a worldview is wrong because most of its official proponents use black rhetorics. But I think it seriously casts doubts as to how convinced they really are of their own ideas if they're not prepared to have an honest, balanced debate about it.
24 May 2010 @ 01:14 pm
For your inconvenience.

Aaaargh! I really find it troublesome to look at botoxed faces.

There are emotions expressed in the words, and their mouth smiles... and I just automatically expect their eyebrows and eyes to move in specific ways, but of course they don't... because they can't... because they deliberately chose to poison themselves.

Not that they don't have the right to do so, of course. I just think it's important to point out, very loudly, that it is not at all attractive. Not. At. ALL. It's uncanny and repulsive to me.

And I hate it especially on folks whose art I revere, such as Tori Amos for example. Duh! You had such a beautiful, expressive face, Tori, why on earth did you have to do that to yourself, and to your trusting fans?

Once again: Botox does not make you attractive. It makes you repulsive and ugly.
23 May 2010 @ 07:16 pm
I think it's impossible to believe simply by choosing to do so. In a certain way, you don't have a choice in the matter. (The christian explanation for it is that only god can change your heart.)

I mean, you can perhaps make yourself believe by way of self-hypnosis and auto-suggestion, which is probably what actually happens in churches - but if you were to do that consciously, you'd still have the problem that you would KNOW that it was yourself who made yourself believe.

I think there is a certain confusion in the whole concept of religious belief. There are certain experiences, like a perceived miracle, altered states of mind, maybe meditation, or awe-inspiring natural phenomena, which trigger spiritual states. And then afterwards, we attach explanations to that, and if the only available explanation at that time is religious, we stick with that. Add confirmation bias and group-trance, and you got yourself a cult.

But inside christianity, or any faith-based (revealed) religion, it's often seen the other way around: FIRST you believe, THEN god does something in your life. Only it's simply not true.

And that, IMO, is also why evangelisation doesn't work the way it's often expected to - by convincing people logically. (It's why Jehova's Witnesses seem to be in a stalemate - they rely on logic and reason to convince people, and they don't appeal enough to emotions.) Evangelisation really only works by creating that altered state that is inducive to spiritual experiences. That's why they always try to pray with people on the spot.
24 April 2010 @ 07:15 am
If there is joy, enjoy!
23 April 2010 @ 05:38 pm
The story goes like this.

The apologetic had a religious experience. An intimate, honest, intensive experience. Most probably, this experience happened in a certain context - at a church or a mosque, alone in a cave at sunrise, with her bible in her hand alone at home... and probably, the apologetic had a specific, probably religious upbringing.

So, given the situation, it was just the obvious choice to interpret her experience in the terms of a certain religion. The words other members of this faith use, the words from a holy book, the words from the tradition of that faith.

From that moment on, the apologetic most certainly had lots of similar experiences. And of course, she interpreted those in the framework she got used to, as well. That's not bad. That's not a fallacy. That's just the way we human beings operate - an interpretation has worked in the past, why not use it from now on?

So... our happy apologetic meets our happy skeptic.

The skeptic, of course, has made his own experiences, and he has formed an opinion about what he believes is the apologetic's creed. Either he was once a believer himself, and has gotten skeptical because the words of this faith failed to convince him, or he has read the holy books without being a member of said faith.

So. The two meet, perhaps at some outreach. The start talking.

And almost by necessity, the apologetic will use the words of the holy book to convince the skeptic. She thinks those words are convincing - after all, they seem to match her experience perfectly! So she cannot grasp why the skeptic won't believe her.

The skeptic, on the other hand, will use the same holy scripture, pointing out logical flaws and inconsistencies, to show that this cannot be a good, qualified basis for a religious faith.

Well, it isn't. And it needn't be. The holy book consists of the experiences of other people, long dead, who were equally trying to express an experience that is, by definition, impossible to put into words.

But both our heroes fail to see that. They're talking about a whole lot of interesting, challenging intellectual questions - but they're not communicating about the one and only thing that can really create or destroy faith: personal experience.

They're like an old married couple who quarrels about whether that ship in her honeymoon was yellow or blue. They have talked about it for ages, never agreeing, never able to agree, and completely missing the point, namely how they loved each other then and love each other still.

It's kind of amusing, really, in a very, very sad way.

[xposted a bit]
10 March 2009 @ 08:03 pm
I always find it weird - and on the other hand, pretty delightful - how things get complicated when we start including the meta level into our thinking: when we start to talk about exclusive vs inclusive spiritualities, instead of talking about one religious content vs the other.

I have often wondered about the possibility of a truly inclusive spirituality. Such a spirituality, to me, would include the acceptance of those paths that are exclusive: the realization that some people's stance of their way being The Only True Way (TM) is just another way of acknowledging the universe - not stupid or undeveloped, just different from my position, and maybe even different in a delightful, enriching way.

Comparing the following two statements:
  • "I am the way, the truth and the life" (exclusive)
  • "All instruction is but a finger pointing to the moon." (inclusive)
quite regardless of my greater sympathy for the latter stance, I wonder if there can be a point of view that is ABOVE both of them, including and extending both, in a way that proponents of both the exclusive and the inclusive way can accept.

xposted: allpaths, spiritualities, vijeno
12 February 2009 @ 07:46 am
This is a comment on a youtube video where someone argued in favor of ID.
I couldn't handle the text limit there, so I put my answer here...

The video, BTW, is here.

It saddens me to see how easily people seem to be fooled by a few clever words.Collapse )